Sunday, April 05, 2009

Wake Up and Partner With a Virtual Assistant

Love your comments. Here's Kelly and my latest article. Why do you partner with a Virtual Assistant? Or what should businesses partner with you as a VA?

Wake Up and Partner With a Virtual Assistant

Is your to-do list keeping you up at night? Are you counting tasks rather than sheep to fall asleep? Does this resemble one of your peaceful night’s sleep?

1. Wade through emails - 2. Finalize the presentation for tomorrow’s meeting - 3. Get handouts ready for Wednesday’s meeting - 4. Make follow up calls zzz - 5. Schedule sales meeting zzzzzz - 6. Buy anniversary gift. - 7. Call my kids.zzzzzzzz

If it’s been a long time since you laid your head down on the pillow at night without a care in the world, I assure you – there is hope. You can have sanity and sleep, too.

When business worries and personal commitments get too much, you need to get help. Businesses today are faced with more and more challenges, more work, and also the need to keep up with the latest in social networking. If you’re spending more of your time on administrative tasks, marketing or staying on top of the latest on the web, it’s time to make a change. It’s time to partner with a virtual assistant (VA).

So what exactly is a Virtual Assistant. No, we don’t mean the Veteran’s Administration. And, we are not talking about the state of Virginia. We are talking about a virtual assistant, also known as a VA.

A virtual assistant, or VA, is an independent business professional who among many things, can help busy professionals handle administrative tasks and PR needs so they can focus on growing their business. Utilizing the latest technology your Virtual Assistant, can manage your social networks, write press releases and letters, tweak or create a presentation, make travel arrangements, be your own personal concierge, follow up on trade show leads, handle literature fulfillment, and even prepare your expense and call reports. The possibilities are endless once you start to see how many tasks you really can delegate.

"I don't know what I'd do without my Virtual Assistant. As a sales professional who works out of my home and travels extensively I don't have an on-site staff to keep things moving. I can rely on her to prepare marketing materials, organize my contacts, send out letters, and keep me on track with special projects. Delegating routine tasks and special projects to my Virtual Assistant allows me to spend more time growing the business," says Mark Loudenslager, VP of Sales, Cathay Pigments USA.

Partnering with a virtual assistant affords you the luxury of spending more time in front of your clients and less time behind your desk. Because virtual assistants are independent professionals they come equipped with their own office, their own equipment, the latest software programs, and the know how of running a successful business. They don't, however, come equipped with added expenses like payroll taxes, expensive benefit packages, paid vacations, holiday pay, or "free time" (that you pay for) for talking to co-workers. They're only there when you need them. Sometimes they're even there when you don't think you need them!

Virtual Assistants are also invaluable in helping to keep your business from being lost among its many competitors or overlooked because of lack of professionalism. Amidst the Internet and Social Networking craze, millions of email exchanges, and web and teleconferencing many professionals have literally ‘lost sight’ of their clients. In a day and age where we thrive on customer relationship management, personal sales calls have taken a back seat to technology. Further, today’s economy has forced more layoffs and corporate downsizing, which has impacted the availability of internal support systems and other such resources. The lack of internal resources has forced companies to rely on already overburdened staff to pick up the slack. Staff such as sales people who are now spending more time doing administrative tasks than they are generating sales. Where does the madness end?

It’s time to wake up and get back in the field! Get ahead of the competition and you won’t find yourself saying “Oops, I could have had a VA”

Kelly Poelker and Diana Ennen are successful virtual assistants and co-authors of numerous books including Virtual Assistant: the Series, Become a Highly Successful, Sought After Virtual Assistant and accompanying Virtual Assistant the Series Workbook. Stop by for information on starting a virtual assistant business, or contact authors at if you need a virtual assistant. Article is free to be reprinted as long as bio remains.

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Top 10 Tips for Entrepreneurs to Start & Stay in Business

Our newest article -- Please add more tips in our comments. We'd love to have them.

Top 10 Tips for Entrepreneurs to Start and Stay in Business

Starting a new business is such an exciting time in life. You’ve got an idea for a product or service that you know will be a success. All you’ve to do is make it happen. Follow these tips and you’ll be well on your way to entrepreneurship.

1. Find your passion in life - Do some soul searching and make sure that the business you are about to begin is your true passion in life. Why venture into doing something “just because” – make it something you love to do.

2 . Research, research, research - Take the time to do your homework. Find out all that you can about your new business, starting a business, and what kind of competition is out there. Don’t rush in to anything. Your business will only succeed if you are filling a need or a void in the marketplace.

3. Develop a solid business plan - Whether or not you need financing for your business, you still need a business plan. Many people dread this process because they make it out to be a very daunting task. Daunting or not, it’s crucial to your success. A business plan, at minimum, should be an outline of your goals and objectives for the business – attainable and reasonable goals – both strategic and financial. It can be one page, it can be twenty pages – just be sure to do it. Putting the plans that are constantly floating around in your head down on paper will make you accountable. Visit your plan often and make the necessary changes to ensure your success.

4. Develop a solid marketing plan - The marketing plan is an essential part of your business planning. You need to research your competition, analyze your strengths and weaknesses, and identify the risks, opportunities and threats posed by both internal and external factors. In doing so you can easily determine a niche market, the best way to enter the market, and how to best turn your marketing efforts into revenue.

5. Create your USP - Your USP is your Unique Selling Proposition. This is what makes you stand out from the competition. Why should people buy your product or service over the competition? Do you offer the best price? Do you have a superior product? Do you offer the best customer service? Your niche coupled with your USP and a good marketing plan can quickly position you at the forefront of the marketplace – you’ll blow the competition away.

6. Establish your external support system - Starting a business on your own can be overwhelming. Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance when and where you need it. Draw on the resources closest to you such as family and friends. The Internet offers a number of opportunities to establish a system of peers including social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, etc., teleseminars, message boards, and discussion groups. Check out the various online and offline networking groups and associations. Chances are you have a local SBA office, Small Business Development Center, or SCORE office in your area that can be a great source of resources for starting and growing your business.

7. Communicate with your internal support system - Without the support of those closest to you – kids, spouses, moms, dads, significant others – it can be difficult to dedicate the necessary time and resources to developing your business. By communicating your plans, goals and objectives with your internal support system you better your chances of gaining their support and getting them behind your new venture. Keep the communication lines open so that they understand what you’re going through and let them know how they can best be of help to you.

8. Give it time - Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor will your business turn a profit in a day. It takes time to build a successful business. If the phone doesn’t ring today, it will tomorrow. The key is to be ready for when it does ring. Have all the proper systems in place; be prepared to spend a little money to make some money. If one marketing technique isn’t working, try another one until you achieve the results you desire.

9. Take it serious - If you want others to take your business seriously you have to take it serious yourself. You have to give it your all and apply yourself at all times. A successful business can’t be something that you just play around with or consider it a hobby – even the IRS won’t take you seriously.

10. Reward yourself - Be sure to reward yourself for all your successes no matter how big or how small. Sooner or later all of your efforts will begin to pay off. Be proud of yourself and do a little something special just for you – you deserve it!

Kelly Poelker and Diana Ennen are successful virtual assistants and co-authors of numerous books including Virtual Assistant: the Series, Become a Highly Successful, Sought After Virtual Assistant and accompanying Virtual Assistant the Series Workbook, Stop by for information on starting a VA business or contact authors at if you need a virtual assistant. Article is free to be reprinted as long as bio remains.

Virtual Assistant The Series Textbook Review

We just received the most awesome review for our book, Virtual Assistant the Series , where it was used as a textbook for a program for starting a virtual assistant business. Thanks Randi!
Just received a course evaluation for the online virtual assistant class I teach during the spring and fall. There was lots of good feedback from students and I wanted to share the following specific feedback about the textbook:

What aspects of the course did you find most beneficial? Student response: The book was soooo awesome - very informative!

What assisted you most in learning and understanding this course material? Student response: The book.

What aspects of the course did you find most beneficial? Student response: The book and additional web sites Randi gave us.

The main textbook(s) required for this course was clear and helpful. Student response: Strongly Agree - Absolutely, I will continue to use this book, especially trying to set up my virtual assistant business
Randi Tucker Barr