Achieving Your Goals (marginal improvements)

This week I came across this TEDx Talk by Stephen Duneier.  I was walking down my daily 2-mile path in my neighborhood and picked this particular discussion to listen to.  Why?  Because I am continuously trying to improve myself, one small adjustment at a time.  Stephen’s entire talk was speaking to me.

See, I’m the type of person who is NEVER satisfied with my level of knowledge.  I am always looking for ways to improve.  I am consistently searching for different motivational techniques to keep me moving, for fresh new skills to learn, and for valuable content to study.

People often say “How do you find the time?”  I run a small business.  I have two teenage boys.  I volunteer in school activities.  I visit family, go out with friends, keep up with household duties, and all the other things moms/wives do.  And, I have time to relax at night to watch my favorite shows or to read books.  And I even sometimes start craft projects (and finish them).  Am I Wonder Woman?  I wish.  But no, I’m not!

This speech by Stephen sums it up.  I make marginal improvements!!

I used to go to the local gym every day (for about 2 years) and work-out every morning for about 1.5 hours.  I then moved out of the area and cancelled my membership.  Forward about 3 years and I kept telling myself I had to get back to the gym.  But I didn’t want to waste hours of every day, inside, around people I didn’t know.  I love being outside.  I love being active.  So, about a year ago I decided to start walking down our street (it’s one street about a mile long) when the weather was nice.  I would walk about half-way then come home.  It felt good.  It was probably less than a mile.  No big deal.  Well, I then decided to find time to go EVERY day and work up to 1.5 miles each time.  I put Pandora on my phone and listened to my favorite stations (usually 80s music).  After a few months of that, I decided to increase to 2 miles each time.  I had to adjust my walk route, but I managed it.  And I also decided to track my daily walks (time, distance, steps, and calories) by downloading an app on my phone.  THEN, I decided I didn’t want to listen to music every time.  So, I started listening to Tedx Talks.  Now, I’m down several pounds, have a decent tan, and know more now than I did last month, and the month before that.  I even started learning new things by searching for topics on YouTube to listen to when I walk.  Yesterday I listened to an event planning training and today I listened to a strategic alliance marketing Q & A.

So what is my point?  These were all MARGINAL IMPROVEMENTS.  And I didn’t really see them as that until I listened to Stephen’s talk above.

So, my question to YOU is…What marginal improvements can you make in your personal life or professional life that can change you for the better?

What are some small goals you want to accomplish in the next 6 months?

Here are a few of my summer goals:

1 – Walk the 8-mile track around our local nature park.

2 – Learn more about 1 very specific niche for marketing (to increase my business).

3 – Read 3 new books (something that’s NOT business related because I need to learn to relax a bit).

I’d love to know more about your goals and how you make marginal improvements in your life!!!  Feel free to email me your story!

“Strive for continuous improvement, instead of perfection.” – Kim collins

Elizabeth Debol
Executive Virtual Assistant
elizabeth.debol@smallbvs.com
www.SmallBVS.com

Advertisements

Inspiration for Business Owners

I work from a remote office, so I need to take breaks often.  I love getting outside, so I typically go for a daily walk.  I used to listen to music and just clear my head (which helps me work more efficiently for the rest of the day).  But, I recently decided to listen to TED talks instead.  I love them!  I’m sure I look crazy laughing while walking down the street, but some of the speakers are really funny!

They not only give me some great inspiration, but they make me feel like I can accomplish anything.  They offer amazing advice that can be used immediately in your daily life.  They point you in the right direction.  They make me feel inspired and motivated.  And I wanted to share some of them with you.

Here are 7 different TED talks for business owners.  They are short enough to listen to during your work breaks or lunch hour, or even in the car to and from work.  I even listen to them while I work.  I promise you’ll love them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elizabeth Debol
Executive Virtual Assistant
elizabeth.debol@smallbvs.com
www.SmallBVS.com

#TedTalks #Inspiration #Motivation #BusinessOwner #Success

Low Budget Marketing for Small Businesses

Marketing is necessary for all businesses, but it can be a kick in the financials for small business owners.  So, coming up with clever ways to stay on (or below) budget can make all the difference in business success.

Marketing - Canva - Free

Here are some ideas to market your business on a low budget:

Referrals.  Often if you ask, you shall receive.  Maybe ask in an email campaign, offering a free download as a thank you.

Photo Credit:  Canva

Brochures.  Create a brochure to share on social media or to hand out during networking events.  No postage needed.

Website.  Design a free website (or landing page) for one of your best services or products.  Share it on social media or through email campaigns to capture emails or stir up attention.

Blog.  It’s free to tell your story or offer your advice.  Everybody loves to read something personable and helpful, especially if you aim it at your target audience.  Solve their problems and don’t spend a dime.

LinkedIn.  Spend some time each week connecting with your perfect audience.  Send personal messages, offer advice, schedule a free phone meeting, or just tell them you’re here if they need you.  Being friendly can go a long way.

If you can do any, or all, of these small marketing tasks, you’d be surprised how your business can grow.  And if you don’t have the time to implement them yourself, I am always here to help.

Elizabeth Debol
Executive Virtual Assistant
elizabeth.debol@smallbvs.com
www.SmallBVS.com

Passion or Pretend

secretary

Well, it’s officially nice weather here in Michigan.  It’s been in the 70’s the last few days and I’m enjoying it very much.  I love getting outside and exercising, so I’ve been walking 1.5 miles a day and doing as much yard-work as I possibly can.  Why am I telling you this?

I have a few passions in life:

– Feeling good
– Helping others
– Working hard

Here’s something about me…  I don’t pretend to have it all together.  I don’t pretend to always know what I’m doing.  I don’t pretend to be passionate about something I’m not.  I’ll tell you straight away what I like and what I don’t, what I’m good at and what I’m not.  I am not afraid to learn, but I only do what I’m passionate about.  That’s who I am.  That’s why I’m always happy and I don’t let anything stand in my way.

Are you doing what your heart desires?
Are you enjoying your business or are you just pretending you do?  

Here’s a little story:  When I first started out as a Virtual Assistant 6 years ago, I was willing to do pretty much any admin work I could get my hands on.  I worked for a small hourly fee.  I put in a lot of hours learning how to perfect my skills.  I busted my hump to build up my business.  In the process, I learned a lot about myself, my clients, and why I decided to work as a VA in the first place.  I love helping others (one of my passions).  Many business owners don’t want to sit behind a desk (or simply can’t) doing things they hate, or are not good at, or don’t have the skill for, or simply don’t have the passion for.  When they pretend, things either don’t get done at all or they simply get put on the “will do later” list.

What I’m trying to say is that I’m not pretending to love my job, I actually have a passion for it.  If you have a passion for your work, don’t let anything get in your way.  Don’t let small tasks (and lack of skill set) stop you from pushing forward and continuing to grow your business.

I am now working on expanding my business, hoping to bring on some partners and work locally with more businesses.  If you’re in need of some assistance with your administrative tasks, contact me.  I want to help you!

Elizabeth Debol
Executive Virtual Assistant
elizabeth.debol@smallbvs.com
www.SmallBVS.com

Organize Your Workspace and Be More Productive at the Office!

Working as a Virtual Assistant, I get this question over and over again… “How do you stay organized enough to balance all your client work?”

Well, it’s called #TimeManagement.  I learn to #organize and #declutter my office area, so my mind stays clear of distractions.  This gives me optimal work time.  But, my decluttered desk and organized virtual space don’t happen without me working at it every day.

Here are some things I do to stay focused and organized:

I use G Suite, a lot!  G Suite helps me stay completely organized when it comes to my virtual space (computer) and everything I work on for my business.  I use a calendar for my personal life, and each of my clients has their own calendar (for me to keep track of daily tasks, not for them).  I use Google Drive to house all my documents, spreadsheets, forms, slideshows, etc.  I use Gmail for my business email, to look more professional and so my emails have less of a chance going into a Spam/Junk folder.  And I also use the task list inside my calendar so I can keep track of any other tasks that I might not want to include on my calendar.

I clean out my emails every day.  I only keep emails in my Inbox if I’m currently working on those projects, if I still have to work on those projects, or if they are questions that need to be answered.  Everything else goes into a clearly labeled folder for that client, company, etc.

Example of folders I keep to organize emails:

A.  Say I have a client named John Smith.  I will move all his emails into a folder labeled “John Smith” so I can go to that folder anytime I need to find something he has emailed to me (it’s a perfect reference place).

B.  Say I signed up for a webinar (which I often do).  I have a folder labeled “Webinars” that helps me keep track of all the webinars I’ve attended for future reference, or in case I need to contact the person/company who hosted a specific webinar I’ve already attended.  Keeping the information is very helpful.

C.  I have a folder labeled “Leads” so if I have an email conversation with someone who isn’t sure about needing my services yet, but wants me to contact them at a later date, I put them into this folder.  (I also add them to my calendar a few weeks later so I can contact them again to see if they’re ready for assistance).  Doing this has helped me land quite a few clients in the past.

– I check my SPAM/JUNK folders every day.  Sometimes even my clients’ emails get stuck in there.  Or, a new lead might email me and they get thrown into the SPAM folder.  I don’t want to miss an opportunity to work with someone because I didn’t check my SPAM folder.

– I mark tasks off on all my calendars with a big X next to the task.  This lets me know that I’ve completed this task and I can now move onto the next one.

– I only keep one calendar open at a time (the client I’m currently working on) so I don’t get confused.  I also have a specific color assigned to each calendar (client), which I end up memorizing, which helps me keep tasks more organized.

– I create a folder in Google Drive for each of my clients, where I keep all their information for current and future projects.  This helps me keep track of everything, so it’s not all buried in emails.  Client folders get assigned the same color as their respective calendar (neat trick to stay even more organized).

– I save everything (not related to G Suite) to a flash drive on my computer; I don’t save anything on my desktop or on my computer itself.  This way my computer doesn’t run slow and I can take my files with me to use on any of my laptops at in-person meetings or when I work at a local coffee house.

– Every weekend I print out any necessary information for the next week (I keep track of my social media postings for clients on a document that I check off throughout the week).  Doing this over the weekend helps me stay focused and “ready to start” come Monday morning!

 

For the most part, my office desk is clear.  I have two laptops and two monitors on my desk at all times.  I work on projects on both systems simultaneously so I can work efficiently and productively every day.  I also have one pen, one lamp, one notebook, and one box of Kleenex on my desk, and that’s pretty much it.  I keep a bowl of candy on my desk (which stops me from getting up to get snacks a lot during the workday) and I have an oil diffuser on my desk (which helps relax me and helps me stay focused due to the specific blends of oils I use).

I get a lot done during my work week, but it wouldn’t happen if I wasn’t organized.  I hope this information gives you a little inspiration and helps you become organized and work efficiently too.

If you need help organizing your workspace, contact me via email.  I’d love to help you!!

Elizabeth Debol
Executive Virtual Assistant
elizabeth.debol@smallbvs.com
www.SmallBVS.com

Why are some people so negative all the time?

Okay, so I just have to start February off by saying one thing – “Stop Being So Negative!!!”

I have the kind of personality where I am 99% positive all the time (the other 1% is me complaining about Michigan weather).  I feel like negativity just brings people down and makes a bad situation worse.  There are not a whole lot of positive people in this world, and it’s really frustrating.  Sometimes I feel like I’m in a world all my own.  Is anyone out here with me???

Here’s the thing… I am a busy entrepreneur, mom, wife, daughter, sister, and friend.  I juggle my own business, my teenage boys, my widowed mother, a house, normal human responsibilities, and I find time to exercise, read, and learn new things.  BUT…I know some people who think I’m crazy.  Why?  Because I like to better myself?  Because I want to be successful?  Because I want to make some kind of change in the world, even if it is small?

Am I perfect?  Hell no!  I just don’t believe in people sitting around waiting for good things to happen to them.  You have to go out and make it happen, people!  You have to work hard, put your time in, put some effort into your passions, create a life you want by doing what you want, and hopefully, good things will happen!

Since my audience is entrepreneurs, I wanted to share this with you!  I want to tell you that you have to go after what you want.  You have to push hard and learn new things and put yourself out there.  One of my fears is talking face-to-face with people (which is why I love being a Virtual Assistant).  I get severe anxiety over meeting new people.  But, when I’m behind my desk I don’t mind having phone calls with new people.  And I must be good at it because 90% of new calls turn into new clients.

My point here:  I stay positive and push through.  I remain professional and contain my anxiety and move forward.  I hope to have my own physical building one day.  I also want to have other professionals around me, where we’re all working together to make a difference in our community, doing what we love.  That’s my goal within the next couple years.  How do I plan to get there?  By continuing to build my business and by staying positive!!!

Can you share your positive stories, your successes, or your dreams in the comments below?  I’d love to hear how you’ve built your business and reached your goals!!!  And I bet you stayed positive the whole way!!!

Elizabeth Debol
Executive Virtual Assistant
elizabeth.debol@smallbvs.com
www.SmallBVS.com

What Does Your CRM Look Like?

OK.  I need to start a topic of conversation regarding CRM programs & database management.  I talk to at least 1 person a week (sometimes more) regarding their contact database and CRM platforms.

I currently work within the following platforms for clients:

www.Soffront.com
www.ConstantContact.com
www.MailChimp.com
www.Zoho.com

What does your CRM look like?  Here is what I often see:

  1. Thousands of contacts getting no consistent communication.
  2. Thousands of contacts getting regular communication, but poor list segmenting means poor open rates.
  3. Thousands of contacts added to the wrong lists, resulting in poor open rates and no engagement.
  4. Thousands of contacts, segmented fairly well, getting the same communication, resulting in no engagement.

Now, some of the individuals I speak with say they have thousands of contacts, hundreds of business cards, numerous clients, and dozens of suspects, but when asked what they do with all them, they say NOTHING.

Does this sound like you?  If so, don’t feel bad.  I’m not trying to call you out or put you down.  It’s just the way it is.  Why? Because not many people really know what to do with their contacts. They just don’t know where to start.

Well, let me explain something to you.  Email marketing and list segmenting is NOT something magical.  It doesn’t happen overnight.  It doesn’t create instant clients.  But, if done correctly and consistently, it does get your name out there and get you in front of people.  And it can get you new clients. And that’s what you want!

It doesn’t have to be complicated.  It can start with a simple spreadsheet and turn into so much more in a short time if the work put in is consistent and effective.  But who has time for that?  I know you don’t. I speak with so many business owners who say they WANT to get starting with email marketing and they WANT to see the results, but they have no time in their busy work week to even think about sitting down and starting from scratch.

Don’t let all those contacts go to waste.  Don’t let all those years of networking and hours of meetings leave you with no prospects or leads. Utilize all that hard work.  Put it to good use.  Find a CRM program and email marketing platform that works for YOU.

Need help?  Contact me.  That’s what I do.  I help the overwhelmed business owner keep track of their communication efforts and consistently work with them to effectively keep their name in front of those who need their business.

Elizabeth Debol
Executive Virtual Assistant
elizabeth.debol@smallbvs.com
www.SmallBVS.com