Friday, March 01, 2013

5 Tips to Grow Your Business Beyond Your Wildest Dreams

There’s nothing like owning your own business. There is the thrill of landing new clients; the joy of getting emails from those you work with who love the results they are getting. And then, there’s that rush you get when you look at your bank account balance and for once it doesn’t make you want to run back to bed and cry.  Owning your own business truly rocks!

A key component of building a successful business is continually working on it. We aren’t talking about doing everything it takes to keep the business operational—that’s working “in” your business. We’re talking about working “on” your business – planning, marketing, customer relations, selling, etc – focusing on the things you need to do whether you have zero customers or a million customers. You need to have a good handle on all aspects of your business and continually do more of the right things to keep it thriving. That doesn’t mean you have to do it all yourself either. It seems like a tall order, but it’s not.

Here are our top 5 tips for growing your successful business:

1)    Market – Market - Market and then Market some more. Even when you have a full client base, don’t stop your PR and marketing efforts. So many businesses make this mistake. They market, get clients, stop marketing, lose clients, and then market again to regain those clients. This leads to the constant feeling of starting over. You have to look at what you did in the past and review it.  If it worked, then do it again. If it didn’t work, come up with something new, and implement that plan. Exhausting, isn’t it? Plus, people tend to forget about you if you aren’t always front and center. So develop a marketing plan that works for your business and continually keep it going. Every week add your marketing tasks to your to do list just as you do for your client work. Continually market your business and the results will absolutely come.
2)    Market correctly. Not only do you need to be marketing consistently, you also need to be doing it correctly so you reach your audience and they are compelled to contact you. One of the first things you need to do is ensure that you are marketing to your target audience. What is that, you say? What about this target audience? Exactly! You have no idea how many business owners we see that just market with no direction in mind. You absolutely have to know whom you want to focus on in your marketing. Those are the ones who will be buying from you and also will understand your value because they are looking for assistance in that area. So know exactly who your target audience is and market to them in the language they will best understand.
3)    Check your stats and measure your results. It’s important to know what marketing activities are working and what aren’t so you can do more of the right things.  How can you tell what’s working? Easy, ask clients where they found you. Check out your website stats and see where those potential clients are coming from. Or, simply add in verbiage to your marketing efforts so that when it comes back to you, you know exactly where it came from. For example, you do article marketing, in the bio include an email address that is specific to these articles. Then when someone contacts you, you know exactly where they found you.  (Yes, it’s that easy!) It’s not enough just to collect this information. You have to analyze it and take the necessary steps to adjust when things aren’t working. Or, maybe add a little more to an area that is working.
4)    Do More and Be More – When you give clients more than they ask for on a consistent basis, they continue to not only send you more work, but they tell others about you.  That’s how your business continues to thrive. Always do more and be more than your clients could ever imagine. In return, they will want to help you succeed, because you are always looking out for them.
5)    Hire Help.  Don’t do it alone. You never see the CEO of a company doing everything in their business, so why would you believe that you should be doing it all in your business.  Even though you can probably do the work, why do it? You should be focusing on what you do best. That’s the mark of a successful entrepreneur. They know to achieve top success they have to put the right team in place and have confidence in their team.

Lastly, if you ask most entrepreneurs what makes them a success, you most often hear, “I truly love what I do.”  That passion is what sets them apart.  Be passionate and follow the above steps. In doing so, we think you will start to see good things come your way. We can’t promise it will always be easy, but the knowledge you’ll gain about your business while using these tips to grow your business will give you a new sense of pride and much more confidence going forward. To your success!

Diana Ennen and Kelly Poelker are the co-authors of numerous books including Virtual Assistant - The Series: Become a Highly Successful, Sought After VA and accompanying Virtual Assistant - The Series Workbook, and Virtual Assistant - The Series: Working Virtually, A Guide to Working Remotely as an Employee.  Stop by their site for complete information on starting your own VA business  Article is free to be reprinted as long as the author’s bio remains intact.

7 Mistakes Virtual Assistants Make In Doing PR

A Publicity VA is a virtual assistant who adds the niche “Publicity” to their VA business. It’s basically working to get more press for your clients. It can be as simple as sending out articles and press releases, to providing more complex services such as creating entire media campaigns and pitching the media. It’s effectively promoting a business, a book, a speaker or coaching program, whatever your clients need that will get them more exposure in the media. To be most effective for your clients, a Publicity Virtual Assistant needs to know how to do it right. 

Here are 7 common mistakes Virtual Assistants make in doing PR:

Mistake #1: Not getting enough traction with the releases you write.

•    Don’t be a one-pitch wonder. Know that PR takes time and if you only write one release and send it out to one or two places, you won’t see results.  Plan an aggressive PR campaign.
•    Repurpose your material.  Your press release can be made into an article, blog posting, added to a media kit, sent to clients, added to your website, newsletter, Twitter, etc.  Social bookmark it as well. Get the most exposure you can. 

Mistake #2: Your media is not interesting enough.

•    Your release or article needs to address an audience problem. It should be attention grabbing, create curiosity and finally it should entice the reader with a strong reason to continue to read further.

•    Make it newsworthy.  Talk about why this release would benefit your audience.  Make sure to provide value and a solution to your reader, and why your expert information will make their business run better or make their life easier.

Mistake # 3: Not using social media.

•    It’s important to do as much as you can with all media you send out. Add all media coverage to your blog, site, newsletter, etc.  Also, add a share button so that you can share all the media.  Ask friends to Digg it, Tweet it, Facebook it, etc. 

•    Share other articles and press releases that you find on the industry. This also adds to your rankings and expertise.  People will want to read what you find interesting.

Mistake #4: Not doing a keyword search analysis and not using the right keywords.

•    Before you send out any releases or articles, do an SEO search first; Google Adwords, Word Tracker, etc.  Also look for search topics in Twitter.

•    Now see how you can incorporate those keywords into your release, title and summary. Even add keywords to image links when possible.

Mistake #5: Not submitting at the appropriate time.

•    Timing is critical. You don’t want to be pitching a business lead when the media is experiencing an influx of other news. Pitch during the slow news spells.

•    Be familiar with editorial calendars.  Publications routinely write on topics months ahead and often talk about the same topics during the same time frames. Also, know the lead times for magazines and other media.

Mistake #6: Pitching in the wrong format.

•    Most media will tell you how they want their material to be sent to them, as an email pitch, a completed form or some other method. The most important thing is to know the different methods and submit the release using correct one.

•    Follow the accepted guidelines for writing an article or press release: including overall word count, punctuation, newsworthiness, etc. Using improper format can cause your work to be rejected.

Mistake #7: Not checking the status and rankings

•    It’s important to know your client’s Google Status as well as Amazon Page Rankings, etc.  This allows you to follow results of the media you submit for your client.

•    Also, make sure to check stats when submitting articles and press releases.  Have the articles been approved recently? How many hits did they get?  This tells you whether you want to do more.

Adding publicity as a niche can be exciting and rewarding for a virtual assistant. The key is to learn as much as you can about the field so you can offer top-notch services. Understanding these common mistakes will help you to fine-tune your expertise and allow you to provide your clients with the quality of service they need to promote their business or products.

Diana Ennen and Kelly Poelker are the co-authors of numerous books including Virtual Assistant - The Series: Become a Highly Successful, Sought After VA and accompanying Virtual Assistant - The Series Workbook, and Virtual Assistant - The Series: Working Virtually, A Guide to Working Remotely as an Employee.  Stop by their site for complete information on starting your own VA business  Article is free to be reprinted as long as the author’s bio remains intact.

Virtual Assistants – Best Ways to Find Speaker and Coaching Clients

The coaches and speakers niche is a perfect market for the virtual assistant. Coaches and speakers have so much going on with speaking engagements, product launches, webinars, etc., that they just can’t do it all and are often looking for help.  That’s why you need to be out there front and center so when they have a need, they come to you.

There are many ways to find clients in the speakers and coaches market.  Here are just a few:

•    Being active online is crucial and can work well to help establish you as an expert in your particular field of support. Making your presence known on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites is a key way to build name recognition.
•    Follow those coaches you respect and interact with them frequently. See who they are following and follow some of them as well.  Oftentimes, the coaches will announce that they are looking for assistance. Seize those opportunities to reach out and connect to them.
•    You can also attend events for speakers. Setting up a booth at these events is a great way to be front and center with your target audience. Most speakers have their event schedule listed on their website, so it’s easy to find out when they might be in your area. Take advantage of every opportunity you can to get your name (and face) in front of those you want to work with.
•    Send out articles about how a virtual assistant can help speakers and coaches.  That way when they type in Google for information, there you are.
•    Do radio interviews, especially on business radio shows.  This is a great way to be in front of your audience and showing your expertise with the tips you provide.
•    Host webinars, seminars, etc., and target those on topics that would relate to speakers and coaches.
•    Ask for testimonials from your current clients.

See how easy it can be.  If you’re a new VA looking for a niche or a seasoned VA hoping to expand your client base, try some of these suggestions for establishing yourself as a VA serving this niche.

Diana Ennen and Kelly Poelker are the co-authors of numerous books including Virtual Assistant - The Series: Become a Highly Successful, Sought After VA and accompanying Virtual Assistant - The Series Workbook. Stop by their site for complete information on starting your own VA business or email them at or Article is free to be reprinted as long as the author’s bio remains intact.

Different Payment Options for Working with Virtual Assistants

Not sure what payment option to use when working with Virtual Assistants and their team? Fortunately, there are many payment options available. You can work with them on an hourly basis, retainer basis, utilize their service packages, and even hire them to work with blocks of time. Dependent on the client and their needs, a plan can be customized and implanted specifically for them. This is especially beneficial for those clients who aren’t exactly sure what their needs will be. Let’s break it down.

Here are several payment options to explore:

Hourly Rates – This is the base rate charged for work done on an hourly basis.  Normally it’s a higher rate than say your retainer rate, but it still can be effective.   With the hourly rate, you have one rate for every hour worked.  Most online support businesses, however, normally recommend their client go with a small block of time as opposed to hourly so the client receives the maximum benefit.

Retainer Rates – With retainer rates, you retain services for so many hours a month, and normally the service provider’s rate goes down the more hours retained. The hours are to be used during that month. The benefit of retainer rates is not only do you receive a lower rate than the hourly option, but also you are guaranteed the Virtual Assistant and their team will be available for those hours.

Blocks of Time – You purchase a block of time (say 5, 10 or 15 hours) and once the time is up, you can purchase additional blocks of time.  The beauty here is there is no rush to get work to your Virtual Assistant at the end of the month as with the retainer option. With blocks of time, a set price is usually in place and you can order the block of time that fits best for you.  However, some companies do offer a lower rate for larger blocks of time (say 20 to 30 hours).

Packages – As the title suggests, this option refers to grouping together services for one fee.  You can have add-ons to that fee, but the main package is set.  For example, you can purchase a package for a WordPress blog and the support needed to get it up and running.  You can also buy packages for such things as having a press release written and sending it out to a designated number of places.

What’s great about offering payment options is no matter what type of business you own or what your specific needs are, Virtual Assistants can customize an option to fit.  Speakers and coaches especially benefit because often their projects differ each month with the events they have ongoing. Not sure which one would fit your needs best? Just ask. We will be glad to discuss your needs and help determine the option right for you and your business.

Diana Ennen is the President of Virtual Word Publishing, and the author of numerous books on starting a virtual assistant business including Virtual Assistant the Series: Become a Highly Successful Sought After VA and accompanying Workbook and also Corel WordPerfect’s Office Ready Virtual Assistant Solution pack.  E-mail her at to receive your free Business Informational Package.  Article is free to be reprinted as long as bio remains intact

Entrepreneur Tips – What is driving your clients away? And What to Do About It

Many businesses experience a slow down at times throughout the year. It happens to the best of us.  However, if you’ve been feeling that slow-down for the past several months, perhaps it is time to take some action and figure out what is going wrong. What might you be doing or not doing that is driving your clients and potential clients away?  Before it is too late you need to take a minute to reflect and then make some positive changes. These should help.

Top Ways to Keep Your Clients Coming Back Time and Time Again:

How are you doing with your clients and potential clients?  Are you still making your current clients feel special?  Even though you’ve been working with them for years, it’s important to still make them feel like they are your #1.  Think about it. Are the newer or potential clients getting all your energy?  This happens, but it’s important to note and make the appropriate changes.

What can truly happen in your business is you get too overwhelmed.  The demands of running your business can be too much.  We also know that part of being a business success is to grow your business and secure new clients.  You WANT to continue doing this, just not at the expense of your current clients. It might be the time to sit down with your virtual assistant or team and go over more tasks they can handle for you so you can give that quality care to all clients.  The biggest mistake most make is thinking they need to do it all alone.  You don’t.  So take action now.

Also, take a look at your promotions or your offerings. Are you offering all the good stuff to the clients you are hoping to attract?  Giving specials is great, but consider what you can be doing for your regular clients too.  You know the ones that pay each and every month.  It doesn’t have to be money either.  It can be things such as sending out extra tweets or helping them with a project they are having problems with.
Are you ignoring feedback? – What are you clients telling you?  Are you listening so you can take appropriate action?   Look for signs that things are going well.  For example, are they not sending you as much work?  Are the responses back not as warm and fussy as before?  Be mindful of the signs and work to make it better.  Also encourage feedback, by asking for it.  When I send my invoices, I also ask for recommendations and I truly want to hear what I can do better.

Not connecting enough – Are you not engaging enough with your clients and potential clients. When was the last time you sent out a newsletter or updated your blog? Be honest.  Okay, take it a step further, when was the last time you actually did some marketing for your business?  Take just a few minutes and write down what marketing you’ve done in the past two months.  Now review that.  Is it enough? What have you done right, what can you improve upon?
Now you know what you can do to make positive changes, be sure to include a plan to do that.  Write down a specific to do list to make these changes and follow-up on them. Be sure to make client relations a big part of what you do to not only keep those clients coming back again, but to keep them referring you to others.

Diana Ennen is the President of Virtual Word Publishing, and the author of numerous books on starting a virtual assistant business including Virtual Assistant the Series: Become a Highly Successful Sought After VA and accompanying Workbook and also Corel WordPerfect’s Office Ready Virtual Assistant Solution pack.  E-mail her at to receive your free Business Informational Package.  Article is free to be reprinted as long as bio remains intact

Grow Your Virtual Assistant Business with These Top 10 Tips for Good Client Relations

Want to have the best relationships with your clients? As your grow your virtual assistant business, it’s important to build solid business relationships with your clients.  Then these clients will not only keep coming back, but also refer others to you. 

Here are ten fun tips to help you establish a great working relationship:

#1 - Come Again?   It’s critical to establish right from the beginning how you will handle the communications with your clients. If e-mailing, what is the standard turnaround time that you respond back to emails.  If phoning, what are your hours?  Once a client knows when they will hear from you, then they can plan their day and work accordingly.

#2 - No Surprises - Nothing is worse for a client than to discover four hours before you leave that you are heading out on a week-long vacation.  That’s stretching it a bit and you probably wouldn’t do that, but think about other ways you might be surprising your client and not giving them the advance notice they need.   Keep in mind that they are probably under pressure too to get their work done.  Always give as much advance notice as you can when things will disrupt the business flow.

#3 - Where’d She Go?  For building good client relationships, try not to disappear off the radar screen.  Check in with your clients often.  When a client writes and they don’t hear back from you for days (or weeks), they fear the worst.  Even if you are working on a large project and the deadline is weeks away, e-mail them and let them know “All is going well.”  That builds confidence and security.

#4 - OOPS, Where Did That Come From?  We’ve all been there.  You get the email from the client saying they found a typo or typos.  Ouch.  We can’t be perfect, but try and be as close as you can.  Proof and reproof your work.  Also, if possible wait until the material is fresh and reread it again.  Determine the time when you are at your best, and use that time to do your proofing.

#5 - Super Size It Please -  Always give your clients more than they ask for.  You will be rewarded with not only more work, but lots of word of mouth referrals too.  And there are so many ways to do it.  For example, 1) Set up an Autoresponder for them so they can sell more products; 2) Set up Google Alerts under their topic or target audience so you can find websites or blogs that will help them spread their message; 3) Help them produce a newsletter or blog; 4) Send them more clients or referrals; 5) Ask them directly what you can do to better the relationship; and 6) Most importantly, listen to what they say. It’s so easy to get busy and listen with half an ear, or try and talk too much about your business.  Being a good listener is a valuable asset.

#6 - Short and Sweet – Make sure that all e-mail correspondence is typed accurately and is short and to the point.   With everyone having busy schedules, this helps your clients save valuable time. One thing you’ll discover is if you write too long of an e-mail often your main points will be missed.  This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t strive to get the answers you need, but keep in mind that their time is valuable and to use it wisely.

#7 - You Need it WHEN? - Determine exactly when work is to be completed or when the order is to go out.  This will save a tremendous amount of problems down the road if everyone is in agreement.  It’s also good to have a written contract. Be specific.  Once everyone knows what is expected, things run so much more smoothly.

#8 - My Dog Ate It - One thing you want to do is always try and make your deadlines and avoid excuses.  We all know that things come up and that’s okay if it happens occasionally.  However, if you make it a habit of needing additional time or not finishing projects, that client will fear sending you more work.  Not a good thing.

#9 - Saved by the Bell -  Make it a point to back-up your work on a regular basis.  And test those backups.  Can you imagine even losing a week’s worth of work?  Your clients are counting on you to protect their work so you want to make sure it is.

#10 - Howdy Partner – Remember that you are establishing a partnership relationship with your clients.  You want to help their business grow because as you do, your business grows too.  Let them know you value them as a client and are glad that they have entrusted you with their work.  In other words, you appreciate them.  Also, let them know that you appreciate referrals so that they can help in your success.  It can be a two-way street with this partnership.

And finally, enjoy.  Start a friendship with your clients and let them know that you care about them.  Most of my clients today are good friends.  This isn’t to say that I’m not professional and don’t conduct myself professionally, as I do. However, I let them know that I’m also interested in them personally and how they are doing.  I take time to know their birthdays, their kid’s names, etc.  Think how you feel when something lets you know they care about you.

Hope you enjoyed these ‘fun” tips.  As our Industry continues to thrive, it’s important to earn the respect and trust of our clients and also fellow Virtual Assistants.  When you set up your business with the goal of doing a fabulous job, you’ll end up with fabulous clients, and fabulous friends.  It’s a win/win for all.

Diana Ennen is the President of Virtual Word Publishing, and the author of numerous books on starting a virtual assistant business including Virtual Assistant the Series: Become a Highly Successful Sought After VA and accompanying Workbook and also Corel WordPerfect’s Office Ready Virtual Assistant Solution pack.  E-mail her at to receive your free Business Informational Package.  Article is free to be reprinted as long as bio remains intact

Virtual Assistants – When is it time to hire a coach?

You probably started your virtual assistant business with big hopes of success. You figured as soon as others knew you were in business they would be flocking to you.  Yes, you were ready.   Success was yours.

However, even though you put up your shingles, “Open for Business” a funny thing happened.  No one came. So you go back to the drawing board again and become a little more vocal this time.  “Hey, I’m opened, come and get it.” That should do it.  But unfortunately it doesn’t.

So many make this mistake.  They think with the right services the clients will be able to find you once you get started. Unfortunately instead of that lovely emails you receive of “you’ve got a payment” you can still hear a pin drop and no one is contacting you.  Now what do you do?

Believe it or not, this happens to a lot of virtual assistants and other business owners thinking that once you open you can just get down to doing the work. The clients will automatically come running.  But that’s not always the case.  In fact, that is rarely the case.  You need to get out there and promote your business and also you need to be set up for success, well before you send out that first marketing piece.

And that is why you might need a virtual assistant or business coach.  Someone who can take you step by step through the process and help you not only get those clients, but also be set up correctly so once you get them, the day-to-day operations of your business run smoothly. Let’s talk about what a coach can do for you.

What can a virtual assistant coach or business coach help with?  Here are just a few things:

•    A coach will make sure you haven’t forgotten any of those vital business basic steps needed to start your business.  Bookkeeping, licenses, business plans are just some of the topics to be discussed and figured out.

•    A coach will help you decide with your skills and experience who would be your ideal clients.  Then the  coach will help you put the steps into place to land those clients. Marketing your business will be a big part of what you will be doing together.

•    Your coach will review your pricing and figure out the best way to set up your business, whether you would benefit with going with packages, blocks of time, retainer rates, etc.
•    A coach can review all your media including your website, media, blogs, and make recommendations.  This alone is worth its weight in gold.  Once you get out there marketing, if your site and branding doesn’t convince clients you have what they need, then you can be not only wasting your time and money, but burning bridges down the road.  Those potential clients may never come back.

•    A coach will be your best friend at times and your worst enemy at others.  Yes, they will be there for you when you do things right, but they should also be there for you and guide you gently when you don’t.  By helping you prevent many of the mistakes that they might have made themselves, you learn the best way to do things.
This all sounds good, but how do you find a good coach?  The main thing you want to consider is to find one you feel confident in by reviewing their business.  Is it one that you would like to mimic?
Do they walk the walk and talk the talk?  You want someone who you respect and know they have your back as well as the skills needed to help you success.  Once you know what you’re looking for, go out there and connect.  Your business success is waiting!

Diana Ennen, President of Virtual Word Publishing, has been in business for over 25 years and is eager to help coach you to better success.  As the author of the highly successful, Virtual Assistant the Series: Become a Highly Sought After VA, she can guide to in all you need to do to be successful too.  Email for her free informational package  Article is free to be reprinted as long as bio remains.

Organized and Loving It.

Over the years, I’ve tried it all- different ways to get organized.  Trial and error.  Some worked, some didn’t.  I tried some of those fancy looking matching desk sets.  They looked beautiful and for some, I’m sure they are perfect.  But for me, they took up too much valuable space. Space I needed to proof my work, keep my reference books, or keep those essentials that I use on a regular basis.  For me, when I work I want everything within an arms reach and have the tools I need to complete my assignments within arms reach.

I have a corner desk and on it I have my computer, printer, fax, phone, etc.  Beside my desk I have a two-drawer filing cabinet.  This was possibly the greatest thing I’ve ever done to organize my business.  In it I have my files and supplies that I use on a daily or regular basis.  My clients’ stationery, clients’ files, file for my receipts, all personal correspondence, paper, folders, etc.  Whenever these files get bulky with client documents, I simply empty them into the main filing cabinet.  For example, my main clients that I’ve been working with for 15 years, their files in the main cabinet are quite large and it’s so nice to have the smaller file close by with just their recent correspondence.   Plus, when I need a folder, an order slip for my books, a copy of my stationery, it’s all right there.  AAAHHH, now that’s convenience.

Now for the receipts’ file.  I keep it monthly.  I simply at the beginning of the month, replace the file with the new month’s file.   That way, at tax time, I don’t have to go through a whole year’s receipts and divide it up then.  It’s all separated.     

Here are some other organizational tips you might find beneficial:

Mail—We have a round basket by a small table by the front door.  All incoming mail goes in there first.  Then when I have the opportunity to sort through it, I get it and put it in its appropriate place.  Always pitch anything you aren’t keeping   All business-related mail is sorted and put away immediately.  Anything that might need work done on it, is logged into my Daytimer and then put in the To Do Bin.

Desk—Your desk should have on it only those items that you use on a regular basis.  Look around.  What haven’t you used in the last month or two.  Start Dumping.  Find another spot for it.  But find the RIGHT space for it.

No Piling of Anything Allowed. This is one of those habits that can be so easy to get into.  Definitely one of the ones that I catch myself doing a lot!  But I stop myself now because I know it will just be brushed off to the side and forgotten.  Too often I miss something important and regret the piling blunder again.  You will be amazed how much more organized you will feel if you just don’t do this one thing.

Daytimer—Now this isn’t only for Time Management.  Your Daytimer can have a space for all your business cards, appointment cards, etc.   How great it is to have all these cards right in the same place. On the date of your appointment, you simply grab the card and off you go.    

Start the beginning of the day and the end of the day with a clean-up.  What a tremendous feeling that is.  When you are done with a project.  Away it goes.  Everything.  When you start the next project, out comes all the material you need. 

There’s nothing like the feeling of sitting down in the morning to a nice clean organized desk and office.  Once you feel this a couple of days, you want to experience this every day so you’ll take the appropriate steps to make it happen.

Diana Ennen is the author of numerous books including Virtual Assistant: the Series, Become a Highly Successful, Sought After VA and accompanying Workbook,, Corel Word Perfect Office Ready, Virtual Assistant Solution Pack, and is president of Virtual Word Publishing and Free to reprint article as long as the bio remains intact.  Also, email us at for your free information on starting a business.

Home Based Business Success – Start Yours Today

So many today want to start their own business and fortunately businesses are constantly looking for guidance.  One home based business I recommend is starting a word processing or virtual assisting business.  It can make a great work-at-home career and the potential just keeps getting better and better.  You will now find many famous authors, actors, businesses, and even political candidates beaming about how a virtual assistant is a must have for business success. In fact, in many books now, some are citing that having a virtual assistant is one of your most important keys to success. 

Getting started is easy.  Fortunately, it’s not expensive either.  First of all you need a complete plan of action set out in advance.  This ensures that you don't leave any vital steps unaddressed and will have a solid plan of action to succeed.  You don’t need anything technical, just how you plan to operate your business including advertising methods, pricing, business hours, equipment and supplies needed, goals, etc. 

You want to clearly define your business.  There are so many different areas you can go into as a home based word processor or virtual assistant so you need to decide with your skills and your experience what is the best for you.  For example, do you want to do strictly word processing or do you want to do marketing too.  How about transcription?  I highly recommend considering that.  Most businesses today do dictate their work and now virtual assistants can transcribe dictation from anywhere in the world.  You’d be amazed how easy it is to learn too. 

Now, that you have your business plan you need to decide on the name of your business.  One thing you need to make sure of is that you can legally have that name.  Often I’ve seen word processors start their business and just grab a name and call it their own.  That doesn’t work well when someone else has already chosen that name, registered it, perhaps trademarked it, and has been using it for years.  First check and make sure that no one already has it, then test it out.  Is it easy to pronounce when you answer the phone? Does it sell you well?  Does it limit you?  Five years from now will you still feel proud of that name? Try it out on friends and ask their honest feedback.  Also, go to the various boards and mention it too.  For such an important decision it’s worth the effort. 

To operate a business you are required by law to have the appropriate licenses.  This is your permit to do business locally. It's a simple procedure that doesn't require a considerable amount of time.  Contact your city and county officials under occupational licenses for complete details or go online.  Most VAs start out initially as a sole proprietorship and then might change later into either an LLC or S Corporation.

Now it's time to set up your bookkeeping. You will want to keep track of all your income and expenses.  Save all receipts and pay all your expenses out of your business checking account.  A software program such as Quickbooks is ideal for our type of business.  Not only does it allow you to keep accurate records, but it also enables you to track exactly where the most money is coming from.  This enables you to target your marketing efforts more in that area.

Now you must decide how much to charge.  Don't undercharge your services.  The Virtual Assisting Industry is a very proud bunch and we want our clients and others to know that when you hire us, you are getting a professional and one capable of making your business better.   Clients will pay well for making their business succeed.  Determine what is being charged in your area, but also take into account what you are bringing to the table.  When you offer specialty services such as web design or say expert proofing or publicity, you can charge more.

It is also important to have an impressive marketing piece. Your brochures, letterhead, flyers, business cards, etc., should look sensational.  I personally love VistaPrints at  I can afford to get matching business cards, mailing labels, magnets, and even postcards cheap.  This makes me look more professional as I have everything the same layout and because it’s so reasonable, I even have different styles for different clients.

Now you need to get those clients. The key to successful marketing is to tell clients what benefits they will receive by answering their main question, "What's in it for me?"  Keep in mind, you're not selling your services, you're selling the benefits of your services.  What can you offer them that would make their business run more successfully?  An example of this would be accurate dependable service done on an “as needed” basis.  

One of the most important things is to get a professional website.  This will enable you not only to get clients through your SEO efforts, but also to show your clients your services and everything about your business.  Look around at other word processing or virtual assisting websites and get some tips.  Don’t copy-just get ideas. 

Now that you’ve got the clients, you need to keep them.  The best way to do this is to always provide them with more than they ask for.  Go the extra mile on all assignments.  Let them know that you value their business and are eager to help them succeed. 

Wasn’t that easy?  If you’d like additional information on starting a business, e-mail me or stop by my website at  I have free information available, such as a sample chapter of Virtual Assistant the Series, and marketing letters to send to clients, and also excellent books that can help you succeed quickly.

Diana Ennen is the author of numerous books including Virtual Assistant: the Series, Become a Highly Successful, Sought After VA and accompanying Workbook,, Corel Word Perfect Office Ready, Virtual Assistant Solution Pack, and is president of Virtual Word Publishing and Free to reprint article as long as the bio remains intact.  Email us for free Virtual Assistant Information Package.

Virtual Assistant Books – Choosing the Right One for Your Business

Want to have a successful and highly profitable business?  Who doesn’t these days?  Well, to do that it’s important to have the right resources as your foundation.  As a professional Virtual Assistant (VA) your business success, at least initially, can depend on finding the best virtual assistant book. Choosing the right one can be a daunting task at best; however, there are well-written and highly successful VA books on the market that meet those criteria.  You just need to know what to look for. You want one that is hands on, practical, current and offers all the information you need to succeed.

But first, what exactly is a VA?  A VA is a highly skilled professional who provides administrative support and specialized services to businesses, entrepreneurs, executives, sales professionals, and others who have more work than time to do it.  They can do everything from offering PR and marketing services to web design, event planning, bookkeeping, administrative tasks and so much more.
So when looking for a virtual assistant book, here are some recommendations:

Nothing is less practical than a resource written by someone with very little experience in the industry. Be cautious of the books that have been written by those who have been in business for under a year and have few clients.   Instead, look to those writers that:

 -    Know the challenges, triumphs and pitfalls of being in the industry for a good length of time.
 -    Are highly successful and sought after for their expertise. Let their record of accomplishment speak for itself.
-    Are out there on social networks offering tips and recommendations for others.
-    Above all, look for those that know what they are talking about and it shows.

Highlights Business Essentials Including Tools & Requirements
Look for a VA book that contains details to getting set up such as:

-    Understanding business basics including the type of business to start, how to choose your name, get your licenses, and more.
-    A solid, methodical, well-written, practical business plan you can execute in a reasonable period.
-    A checklist of all the components you need to start including examples of forms, client assessments, social media tools, self-assessment forms, marketing checklist etc.

Marketing Your Business Essentials
Look for solid marketing advice that is easy to follow, but will yield great results. Be especially mindful of these areas:

-    Marketing to your niche and how best to determine that niche and the experience and skills you will need for that.
-    Best ways to market that are cost-effective and time sensitive.
-    Social media tools that are current and inclusive to those plans
-    Updates on the technology and trends to increase your marketing.

Business Operational Procedures
Nice to have the vision for your business, however, day-to-day operations can be like throwing someone in the water who has never swam before and they have either to sink or swim. The right tools to ease that transition include:

-    Explains in detail best tips for organization, time management, client relations, office set up and equipment.
-    How to price your services.
-    Explains the best daily operational procedures such as turnaround time, work balance, etc. 
-    Taking not only care of your family, most importantly your number one asset, “you” should be tops on that list.

Let us face it there would be no VA industry without accurate resources.  Inspiration with practical and successful material is the perfect component to the successful VA book you need for your business.  

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. Follow us on Twitter: and
Article is free to be reprinted as long as bio remains.

Virtual Assistant Business Tops The List of Businesses to Start in 2013

It’s no secret being a business owner can be one the most rewarding ventures ever. After all, you get to be the boss, make all the rules, and make a great income—all at the same time, right? It doesn’t get any better than that! Of course that comes with a lot of hours, a lot of sweat, and a lot of sacrifice. Nonetheless, over 20 million of us do it and wouldn’t trade it for the world.

One of the most hottest businesses to start, according to a recent article in Home Business magazine (December 2012 issue) is a Virtual Assistant business. If you’ve been following the industry and the top businesses to start listings for any length of time you have likely noticed that a Virtual Assistant business has been high on many lists in recent years. Why? We would say that is due to rising popularity and ease of entry if you have the right skill set and expertise. And, there is minimal investment for getting started.

As we shared with Home Business magazine, “Virtual Assistants partner with his/her clients and learn about the client’s business to become a trusted and valued member of the team.  At the same time, the Virtual Assistant only charges for time on tasks, so it ultimately saves the client in overhead expenses while affording them the necessary time to take care of more business.”

It’s the partnership we create with clients that distinguishes us from other types of service providers, like those bidding for jobs on freelance-type sites. The ultimate goal is to establish a long-term relationship with the client to provide business support services, like those we outlined below. These services are performed in your office instead of the client’s, hence the virtual aspect of the working arrangement.

As an independent contractor you are then responsible for paying your own taxes,  providing the equipment, software, and whatever else you need to perform the services in addition to all other aspects of running your own business. This is where the VA can eliminate the overhead expenses of a hiring an employee for a business owner.

The article further went on to say, “Virtual Assistant services include:  publicity and marketing, article and press release writing and distribution, social networking updates, legal, medical, and general transcription, bookkeeping, web design, and administrative tasks.”  There are a wide variety of services a virtual assistant can offer, this is only a small sampling of the services you can offer.
Want to learn more on how to become a virtual assistant?  Take the time to visit different websites and do your research online. There are a number of colleges that offer training as well as industry experts, like us, who offer coaching.

Diana Ennen and Kelly Poelker are the co-authors of numerous books including Virtual Assistant - The Series: Become a Highly Successful, Sought After VA. Stop by for information on starting your own VA business  Also, stop by for a VA Self-Assessment to help you determine whether becoming a virtual assistant is a good choice for you. Article is free to be reprinted as long as bio remains.

Virtual Assistants Excel in the Publicity and Marketing Niche

We all realize how Virtual Assistants have revolutionized the way we work today.  Most businesses now count on their Virtual Assistant the same as they used to count on their secretaries, only so much more.  VAs are a prized and respected part of their client’s team, and unlike secretaries, who often were taken for granted, Virtual Assistants are praised for their professionalism and skills.  Most businesses today can’t imagine where they would be without their VA.  And as the potential for success in a virtual assistant business continues to explode, so does the need for good Virtual Assistants.

Today’s Virtual Assistants need to take pride in their business and also to learn as much as they can about their niche, which is the specialty they have chosen to specialize in. One niche that I highly recommend is to offer publicity and marketing services to clients.  This is an area that is growing in leaps and bounds as more and more authors, businesses, and other professionals realize the need to market their business to get good publicity.  A business can expand tremendously when hiring a Virtual Assistant to help them spread the word about their products or services.  Also, authors today aren’t aware that once they write a book, that’s when the real work begins.  They need to get the word out about their book in order for it to be successful.  That’s where a good Publicity Virtual Assistant comes in.

Publicity and marketing is thrilling to say the least.  There’s such a great rush when your client gets recognized in national magazines, or a TV station wants to do a segment on them and you helped them achieve this success.  Or better yet, when your efforts start resulting in substantial increased sales for them.  Clients will not only keep using your services, but also tell others about this new positive addition they have to their business. And best yet, you too get to feel that satisfaction as you are helping them achieve their goals.

One of my most successful tips is learning how to effectively use any publicity that a client receives.   When clients get national attention in a magazine, newspaper, or TV Segment, or even on a popular website, it’s important to make sure that everyone is aware of this. A press release should immediately go out to announce their accomplishment.  This release should be added to their website and also should go to all their local papers, radio stations, and TV networks.  Media loves to highlight a success story of their locals, so make sure you get this out there as soon as you can.  And you don’t have to wait for the publicity to happen.  If your client lands a major TV segment, you can start sending this press out beforehand in order to get more media for when the event happens. You just want to make sure that the client is fairly confident the segment will air.  Also, don’t worry if the segment gets bumped back, that often happens as breaking news takes priority.  This can almost be a blessing, as then you get to do more publicity before the airdate.

It’s also important to follow-up with the reporters and let them know how much you appreciate the acceptance of your quotes for an article.  When you go the extra step to show them your appreciation, they remember you when the next article comes up and they need help with more expert advice.  Many reporters work for multiple magazines so one good ally can lead to lots of media exposure.  Always keep your PR hat on.  Learn to take any situation and turn it into good press for your clients and your business as well. Stay on top of current events and see if you have anything to offer. Whenever a story hits the press that any of my clients would have a connection to, I’ll send it right away.  Having press releases already prepared for clients on their business is always a great help.  How do you know about these events?  Sign up for Google Alerts under the topics of interest and then whenever a story is written,  you can follow-up with your press release or article to the reporter.  It works!   I also use ProfNet from PRNewswire, which allows me to get daily leads from major news outlets.  You can also consider PRLeads. 

It’s also important to learn how to write a good press release and article and also where to send those.  Make sure that your press releases and articles are newsworthy and also something that interests the readers.  When I write a release, I always think would I read this release?  Would it interest me?  If not, I doubt your target audience would be reading it either.  Plus, be careful to sound too promotional.  You can easily get your message across without sounding like an ad.

Publicity is a great niche for Virtual Assistants.  To learn more stop by my site at or contact me for a free 10 minute call on PR tips or my free PR Informational Package.

Diana Ennen and Kelly Poelker are the co-authors of numerous books including Virtual Assistant: the Series, Become a Highly Successful, Sought After VA and accompanying Virtual Assistant the Series Workbook, and Virtual Assistant - The Series: Working Virtually, A Guide to Working Remotely as an Employee.  For complete information on starting your own VA business stop by and  Article is free to be reprinted as long as the author’s bio remains intact.

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?

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, rest assured – there is hope. You can have sanity and sleep, too.

When business worries and personal commitments get to be too much, you need to get help.  Businesses owners are faced with more and more challenges every day—finding clients, keeping clients, creating products, article and press release distribution, social networking, and the economy. So if you’re spending more of your time on administrative tasks or just plain spinning your wheels going no where fast, it’s time to make a change. It’s time to partner with a Virtual Assistant.

So what exactly is a Virtual Assistant and what can one do for you?

A virtual assistant, or VA, is an independent business professional who among many things, can help overwhelmed business owners handle administrative tasks so they can remain focused on their business. Utilizing the latest technology your Virtual Assistant can manage your social networks, write press releases and correspondence, tweak or create a presentation, make travel arrangements, be your own personal concierge, write letters, 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 my VA 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.

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 VA business or contact authors at if you need a virtual assistant. Follow us on Twitter: and
Article is free to be reprinted as long as bio remains.