Organize and Grow your Business… in 4 easy steps

Have you ever felt like your time was being squeezed so tight that it felt like you couldn’t catch your breath? Have you felt like time with your family is being compromised just so you can keep up with the day-to-day tasks that keeping your business going? Business owners, especially the ones that try to do everything themselves, feel like this time and time again. Once they realize that something needs to change, and they have to take the steps necessary to make that happen, their business will start improving. It is the difference between a disaster waiting to happen and a well oiled machine. You see, the “one day” day doesn’t magically just happen.  People say “one day I will have time to communicate better with my customers”, or “one day I will get my business on social media so I can increase my sales”, or “one day I will find a way to organize my business records so that I can see how my business is doing”.  You have to make it happen, and if you follow these 4 easy steps you will be on the road to getting the organization you must have to get the peace of mind that you so desperately need.

1.) Get your business records organized. You need to have a program, I recommend QuickBooks, that can organize your business expenses and income into one place where you can look and see how your business is doing. It has lots of reports that you can utilize that will tell you exactly how your business is doing in terms of profit and loss. At tax time your accountant will love you. They can just log into your QuickBooks after you have given them access, and download all the reports they need to be able to fill out your tax return. No more paying accountant rates to go through your receipts, bank records, and credit card statements and organize them into a general ledger that they can then convert into the figures they need for your business tax return. This will save you a lot of time and money. It is cost efficient and easy to learn.

2.) Social Media. Create social media accounts that will increase your exposure to your target demographic and increase your sales. Certain social media platforms are better than others for different types of businesses. Choosing the right platform and engaging not only your existing customers but your target demographic for future business and sales could grow your business more than you ever thought. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest are some of the top rated platforms. You can give your customers tips, show pictures of your products, set up a click to buy, or promote your posts that will not only increase your likes, but your sales or services too! The statistics don’t lie. These social media platforms can help grow your business!

3.) Email Marketing. If you have a list of customers you have sold a product or a service to and you have their email information you can communicate with them on a consistent basis. Don’t bombard them with meaningless email that will make them hit delete every time they see your name. Send them information on a special you are having, or a newsletter with DIY tips or videos. Most people don’t mind getting emails if it is a way to save them money or help them in some way. Video is very popular right now. People don’t read plain text as much as text with pictures or video. Short 1-2 minute video’s are easy to make from just pictures and text. You could also make it a DIY tip video on a particular topic. Whatever you choose to send them, as long as it is engaging, will keep your name in front of them and they will be more likely to remember your company when they need something. There are both free and paid accounts you can set up in Constant Contact or Mailchimp that will let you upload your entire email contact list and create beautiful email campaigns with pictures and lots of color that will catch your customer’s attention.  Staying connected with your customers will keep them coming back!

4.) Hire a virtual assistant. You can’t do it all… you need help sometimes. Learn to delegate. Learning this will improve several aspects of your business and personal life. The more organized your business is the more time you have to enjoy your personal life. The things I mentioned in this blog are all things that take time. They will definitely improve the way your business flows and help you get on track, but you might not have the time, or the understanding of how they work to get them all accomplished. You might find that you need some help in just certain areas. By hiring a virtual office assistant you don’t have to pay a full-time or even permanent part-time employee to do the things you need done. A virtual assistant works only when you need something done. If you need help getting your QuickBooks set up or even someone to help maintain the invoicing, receiving of payments, and recording of expenses, they can help. If you need someone to help come up with creative content ideas for your social media platforms, they can help. If you need someone to create email marketing campaigns and videos to promote your business, they can help. Virtual assistants can simply help you set these programs up so that you can do the work yourself each month, or they can keep up with them when you don’t have the time. Most of them charge by the hour or by the project.  They are very fast at what they do because that’s all they do. It is their specialty. Some people who have used them don’t know how they ran their business without them.

Making your life easier is simple. Don’t let the business you started and love drive you crazy and keep you from doing the things you enjoy. There are ways to organize, grow, and get help managing your business that will make “one day”.. this day. You just need to quit thinking about it and make it happen.

How To Ask For Help

You have a mountain of paperwork on your desk. You have a to-do list a mile long. You realize that you really need someone to help, but you don’t need them all the time. Maybe this is just your busy season and you need some temporary help. What should you do? Call a virtual administrative assistant. The simplest form of help you could ask for.

You might be thinking that a virtual assistant might not be a good fit. They don’t know your business or how your office runs, so how can they possibly help without you spending even more time away from what you need to do to train them? Where would you even begin to know how they could help you? Well…. you would know because I am going to explain it to you. Since I am a virtual office assistant I’m helpful like that. Now you’re thinking maybe you should hire me…. but you should finish reading my blog first… but you should contact me right after your done…. what a great idea! You are making use of my advice already!

The biggest question that you need to ask yourself is out of your entire to-do list what things can only you do? Then see how much of your list is left. There is still probably a lot left on it. These are the things that a virtual office assistant can do. They can create forms that could make your business run smoother and save time. They can create presentations, keep the information in your database updated. If you find one that is truly experienced you can simply tell them everything that you, yourself do, what things aren’t getting done that should, and what you would like to see done, and they can come up with a plan to make that happen. A good executive assistant …. as Capitan Picard would say…. would “Make it so”.

The next biggest question you should ask yourself is what would I like to be doing but can’t because I just don’t have the time or the knowhow. Many people have told me when I’m consulting with them that they know there are lots of things they need to be doing like social media management or email marketing to engage both their existing customers and new ones. Some of them either don’t have the time to keep up with it or don’t have a single clue how to post material their customers will find interesting. These things…. things that would grow your business… are very important and are definitely worth hiring someone to help with.

Your virtual assistant knows what they do best just like your know what you do best. The easiest way to come up with a plan is after going over what your situation is, ask how they can best help you. If you like what they say and they seem to make sense then give it a try. You might find that you can be so much more productive with your newly hired assistant. As time goes by and you start using them more each month you might just wonder how you did anything without them.

Do what is right for you and your business…. ASK FOR HELP!

How much is your time worth?

How much is your time worth? It’s hard to put a dollar figure on it. If you’re a parent every minute you can spend with your kids is priceless. Some severely lack in having that luxury. They might have to travel a lot, have a work schedule that is very demanding, or have too many responsibilities. Sadly this makes seeing your family a rare occasion.

If you are a business owner your time is usually best spent growing your business. You might be the one that does the work yourself, such as a handyman. You might have employees to do the work but you are the one that goes out and gets all the new business. Without that you have no future business growth. Most business owners are also responsible for making sure their existing customers stay happy. Keeping a customer is just as important as getting new ones. All of these things are critical in keeping you in business.

With that being said it is obvious that your time is invaluable. If you sat down and made  a list of everything you had to do to keep it all going, then prioritized it, you would see that there are certain things only you can do and those things are usually at the top of the list. Then there are the things that are further down the list. Things you could delegate or maybe hire someone else to do. Things that still have to get done but not things that you have to do. This is where a virtual assistant comes in handy.

A virtual assistant can do all of the administrative work your business needs. They can provide the much-needed assistance you need to keep your business running smoothly so you can keep going. You might not need a full-time or even part-time employee to take care of things. They will cost a guaranteed amount every week and possibly even more if you have a full-time employee entitled to company benefits, vacation pay, sick pay, etc… You might not even have an actual office for someone to work out of. A virtual assistant can take care of what you need done, as you need it done, saving you both time and money. You might need some invoicing done, someone to make sure your customers are paying. You might just be crazy busy one day and need someone to return some phone calls or emails for you. Maybe you want to keep in touch with your existing customers and want some email marketing blasts to go out. There is no job too small… or to big when properly managed… that a virtual assistant can’t help with.

With the right person helping, you might just find the time to make that little league game, dance recital, or just plain sit down and realize how good that feels. So how much is your time worth? Hire a virtual assistant, focus on the important things, and your will see just how valuable their time is to you, and how invaluable yours is.

Bad Boss…..Great Teacher!

I have had many, many years of experience working with a very, very bad boss. He has no people skills. He can not communicate with his employees without ending up in a fight with them. He lied, cheated, and ran all of our good customers off, both big spenders and smaller ones. One would think that this kind of behavior would be a bad influence on people. Sometimes it is easier to lie and cheat in business to get a big payoff. Instead I decided that I would learn from his behavior. I would take his example and in turn learn how not to be!

My position in the company was one that was pretty much directly under him. This enabled me to have some authority in the company. When he would yell an employee I could usually talk to them after and make them feel better. I would have to convince them to stay or simply calm them down. This gave me good people skills. I learned how to treat employees. I learned that if you treat your employees with respect and compassion they will be loyal, hard-working allies. It’s not a difficult concept. Even if they do mess up you can still get your point across without making them want to throw things at the wall, like I have before after fighting with my boss (and I am not a violent person).  His extreme inability to handle his employees made me better at managing and communicating with them. It forced me to learn how to handle situations and fix problems, not cause them.

I also learned this same concept with customer relationships. I have seen my boss lie to customers and cheat them just to make a sale. Then, surprise, the customer got mad when they found out and stopped doing business with us. From that, I learned that honesty is always the best policy! He taught me… indirectly… that if you are honest with a customer from the beginning and they still decide to do business you then they will most likely continue to do business with you. I had customers that were his and they actually stopped speaking to him or even answering his emails and would only deal with me. It’s like he couldn’t understand that he was killing our business. It finally got so bad that almost everything he said contained a made up story or a lie. It wasn’t possible to tell the truth for him anymore because he had lied so many times he had got used to it. It was just second nature for him to lie. Again this taught me how I did not want to be. He has ended up almost totally alone, and unhappy because he has finally made everyone mad and want to leave. This was one of the biggest lessons because it showed me how through the years his bad behavior towards his employees and his customers has not only lost him business, but ultimately cost him his business (that he started in 1978). It also showed me the long-term consequences of his actions by seeing what his life is like now and probably always will be. He is 71 years old and has pretty much no hope of starting over. He has no business, no employees, and no customers.

It is always better to do the right thing when it comes to business, and everything really. Honesty and compassion goes a long way. Employees work so much better when they want to, not when they are forced to. Customers come back again and again when they are treated with respect and know they can count on you. All of these are lessons that I have learned because I was shown by my boss what happens if you don’t do these things. It was like seeing my future if I had made the wrong choices. I guess you could say he taught me how to run a successful business in a reverse sort of way. He was definitely a bad boss…. but a great teacher!


How to start over… in the middle

I guess you could say I am in the middle of my working life… maybe a little further. We won’t discuss actual numbers. The job I have had almost my entire adult life has ended and I am the sole owner of a new company. It is all up to me to make it happen. So…… where to start?

It was almost instinctual for me to just get things going. The thought of it not happening was not even a possibility in my mind. It never occurred to me that what I was doing might not succeed. Looking back I knew that if I had even started to think that way it would have never worked. It’s like when you are doing something that you have done a million times and you know what you are doing… you know you will get it done. You have done it so many times the possibility of it not getting done doesn’t even enter your mind. It’s like washing clothes, checking and returning email, going to the grocery store. These are all every day tasks that we don’t even think about. That’s how I was when I was setting up and starting my business. I had done these kinds of jobs for so many years, done them so many times, that all I could think about was “how many clients I could handle” at once. I didn’t think “if” I would get any clients. I didn’t think “when” would the clients start calling. As I set up my phone service, my thoughts were making sure I didn’t miss any phone calls from “all” of the clients that would be calling. As I set up my post office box I wondered if it would be big enough to hold all of the mail I would get… like checks from clients, etc.

It was this way of thinking that kept me driven to keep going until what I considered success was reached. I didn’t slow down. I didn’t get nervous if I didn’t get any calls for a few days. I knew if I kept pushing hard enough I would be making money in no time. Every day I thought of new ideas to get new business. I decided to improve my website, go to networking meetings with other businesses, create a presence on social media like Facebook , LinkedIn, and Twitter. I worked hard and I worked fast because I couldn’t afford to just sit around without any income.

Now my perseverance in finally paying off. I have several clients, some on a regular basis. I am generating income. I am still…and probably always will be… thinking of new ways to help my business as well as my client’s business grow . It’s solely up to me now to make it happen. There can’t be any excuses. There is no one else to help. It wasn’t easy, but despite what could have happened I was able to start over…in the middle.



Since I am just starting this ritual of blogging please feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this page. I would appreciate any feedback anyone has.

Thank you!


Start…. to Start Over

Twenty four years ago I started my job as a receptionist. I answered phones, filed, and other basic office tasks. I took the job because I needed to make money for my new family. I was 21 years old and I had just had a daughter. Things got expensive real quick!

It’s in my nature when I am in a situation to listen, learn what I can, and try to improve things. It doesn’t matter if it is considered my “job” or not I still do what is best for the situation and get the job done the absolute best that I can do it. I am a bit OCD about getting things finished. This philosophy is how I moved from receptionist to service manager to warehouse manager to office manager to operations manager/executive assistant. For 24 years I have held all of these positions… at the same company….and now the company is closing.

A person might think that if after 24 years of being with a company and they are faced with losing their job that things would be pretty bad. After all, 24 years is close to half a person’s career life span. Somehow, however, I managed to look at it in an entirely different way. I had 24 years of experience that I could put into action. All of that knowledge just couldn’t go to waste so I decided take the chance and ….. START OVER.

I didn’t think of it immediately. While my company was closing I sent out some resume’s. I got some responses but in the end I wasn’t willing to just start a job at a new place doing the same thing. Same job, same work, different company, and less pay. This did NOT sound appealing to me. I needed to do something I WANTED to do, not that I had to settle for. You know as you get older you want nicer things, maybe a nice car or house. If your lucky you might be able to afford to pay people to do the things that you once busted your but to do yourself. Well that is how I decided I would be with my career choice. When I started 24 years ago it wasn’t a “career choice”. It was a paycheck. Now I am making the decision to start my career. That is why I started my company Virtual Office Assist, LLC. I love the behind the scenes action that makes a business prosper. Since that was my passion and I had 24 years of experience doing just that I took the leap and started my own company.

I couldn’t be happier that I made that decision! I went from knowing my job of 24 years was ending to starting a new, exciting chapter of my life. One I CHOOSE to start. Not one that I have to because I am just starting out in life.

I went from START….. TO START OVER and I am so glad that I did!!