What makes you GREAT?

OK.  So, I’m sitting here wondering what I want to post about this week.  And due to a not-so-fun, frustrating, attacking experience over the weekend, I decided to focus on what I do that’s GREAT.

Attitude - Canva

Photo Credit:  Canva

I’m a very motivated person.  I have an entrepreneurial drive.  I like to get things done, and if I don’t know how to do something, I’ll figure it out.  I don’t like to procrastinate (although it does happen sometimes).  I don’t like broken promises.  I like schedules.  I like lists.  I like organization.  I don’t like people who nag or complain about the little things.  I love music, walking outside, working in the yard, playing with my kids, cuddling with my dogs, and so much more!  Life is good!

Why am I telling you this?  Because we all have something great within us that NOBODY gets.  I think mine is planning.  In my head, I have to plan just about everything.  I plan my day from the moment I get up to the moment I go to bed.  But, I leave enough time each day for me to do something different than the day before (if I want to).  This probably doesn’t make sense to anyone but myself, but it’s true.  I have amazing executive functioning skills.  I love the feeling of accomplishment.  And being a Virtual Assistant helps me build on these skills, gives me the opportunity to use these skills, and makes me feel like what I do really does matter.

What makes YOU great?  We all have things we are terrible at.  For me, it’s cooking.  We all have things we enjoy and really love.   For me, it’s planning and executing.  I am constantly reading, learning new ways to help my clients.  I am consistently networking to find professionals to collaborate with.  I am inspired by new adventures and can’t wait for the next one to knock on my door (or email me).  🙂

If you are GREAT at something, follow it through.  Walk down your path with pride and enjoy your time doing it.  That is one reason I started my business.  I enjoy helping others walk down their path.  And I get to walk down mine at the same time.  What I’m able to accomplish might not be what others’ want to do.  And I’m fine with that.  But respect that I love what I do.  And I’ll respect that you love what you do.  Understand we are all great at something.  If we were all good at the same things, this world would be a VERY boring place to live.

If you recognize that your GREATNESS is NOT organizing, planning, or executing, then contact me.  I want you to do what you’re the best at, and leave those other tasks to me.  Help me feed my GREATNESS while I help you live out yours.

This year has been amazing so far, but I’m starting to find some real niche professionals I want to continue working with:  Business Coaches (event planning) and Realtors (blogging).  I’m also working on a new path…marketing for educational centers.

Like I said, I am always looking for new adventures, and it keeps my life busy but fulfilled.  I wish you great things on your journey, and if you need any help, please don’t hesitate to contact me!

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

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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

Five Ways to Kick Stress in the Rear! (Guest Post)

Stress. We all have it. We all get it and if you are anything like me, you would like for it to just go away! Unfortunately, stress is something that blocks us from living a healthy, purpose-filled life and often stops us dead in our tracks. Have you had that experience?

As I Googled stress one day, I found basic consensus that the top five stressors include:

  • A sick family member
  • Your health
  • Finances
  • Relationships
  • Career/Business

There was a point in my life, when all 5 of those hit at the same time. No wonder I was having trouble just getting out of bed and dragging myself to the shower each morning and barely having the energy to get to work. I did learn although I couldn’t control some of those things, there were some ways to relieve some of my stress to improve my mental, physical, emotional, and relational life. So here are five things that I have learned to do to release some of the overwhelming stress in my life. I know I cannot rid myself of all stress, however, I find that releasing some of it is like a pressure cooker releasing some steam – I am able to get up, hop in the shower and get to work… and for me, that is success!

  1. Learn to say NO! Look at your schedule and commitments and start to de-commit, cancel or postpone those things you really do not need to do. Remember, when you way “yes” to something, you are saying “no” to something else. Make your “yes” be something that will not add more stress to your life. If you can, trade it for something you can gladly say “no” to. For me, I said “no” to being on a committee at my church that was non-productive the previous year and said “yes,” to a business networking event where I could meet others, grow as a leader and share about our businesses.
  2. Share the load. It is true that no one is able to do things just like you. But once you give up the need to control some areas that are causing stress and begin to delegate, your load will be lighter. My husband agreed to take my mom, who couldn’t drive anymore, to the store every other week for me. You cannot imagine how that one change relieved a lot of stress in my life! All I had to do was ask for help!
  3. Let it go. Often the circumstances causing stress consumes our thinking. Train yourself NOT to focus on the stressor. How? Find a way to let it go. For me, I have several ways to do this. I will write the stressor on a rock and toss it in the lake.  Sometimes I will write something down and put it in the shredder. At night, I’ve trained myself to write the stressor on an imaginary white board and then, in my mind, I keep erasing it until I can move forward. If you are a person of faith, surrender it to God.
  4. Hit the delete key. When your head is spinning and will not turn off thoughts say “not helpful” as many times as needed. Or imagine your thoughts being typed on your computer screen and then visualize yourself hitting the delete key. Then focus your thoughts on something or someone you love.
  5. Know what you can and cannot control. Take a pen and piece of paper and draw two lines to make three columns. Label the columns: Stressor, Can Control, Cannot Control. In the first column, list those things that are causing you stress. In the second column, if you have control or can do something to relieve the stressor, write it down with some action steps. In the third column, list the things that are out of your control. If you cannot control a stressor mark through it and get it off the list. It’s not worth your time or energy to focus there.

Coach Cindy Tannehill

Coach Cindy Tannehill is a John Maxwell Team Coach, Trainer & Speaker, Professional Certified Life Coach and the co-founder of Pass It On Purpose Coaching & Training Center in Kansas. She works with leaders and executives in businesses, NGOs, and faith based organizations around the world. She also has a heart for women entrepreneurs and has co-written an online course, Raise the Bar Academy – The Crash Course to help women entrepreneurs be successful in business and life.

www.johnmaxwellgroup.com/cindytannehill www.raisethebaracademy.com

Contact: cindytannehill@johnmaxwellgroup.com or cindy@raisethebaracademy.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

 

What’s the real (effective) way to send email campaigns?

OK.  So lately, I’ve had some real questions about email marketing.  There is so much out there, and so much to learn, that many of my clients (and potential clients) are just getting frustrated with how unpredictable email marketing seems to be.

Well, let me start by saying this…It is a very slow process!!  You will have to do these things, and do them correctly, for email marketing to work:

  1. Pick an email marketing program that will work for your budget and your needs (I recommend Constant Contact because of all the tools it has to offer).
  2. Create web forms for your website, your blog, and social media.  These forms help get sign-ups for your email campaigns.
  3. Create an email that has value, is not too long, is not too short, has the right colors, and is mobile friendly.
  4. Load an organic, nurtured list of individuals into your program (and then learn how to segment them as your list grows).
  5. Follow-up with your contacts, based on their interests, their wants, and their needs.
  6. As your list grows and the demands get higher for your valuable content, create automated emails, or even put together a “product” using email marketing.

Oh goodness…so much to think about.

Let’s first start with FINDING INDIVIDUALS TO EMAIL. Where are you getting your contacts from?  Do you have a well-nurtured list of people just sitting in your folders in your Gmail or Outlook accounts?

Did you purchase a list that you’re hoping to use (I really hope you didn’t waste your money)?

Are you in the process of networking, collecting business cards, handing out flyers, speaking at events, etc?

AND what do you do with all those NEW contacts?

First, you have to decide who is who, where each contact came from, how you know them, what relationship you’ve nurtured through them.  Then, you need to segment them based on your answers.  The idea is to create SPECIFIC lists so you can send them SPECIFIC valuable content through your email marketing efforts.  If you don’t have contacts, well, then you need to get some. You can do this by using a web form through your email marketing program, through networking in person, or through prospecting on LinkedIn.

Is all this too much to process?  I know, it can be overwhelming.  And that’s JUST finding contacts.

Now, the first email you send to your contacts SHOULD always be an introductory email.  You should include who you are, how you know them, why you’re emailing them, what you have to offer, and how often you plan to email them.  AND always include a way for them to opt-out or unsubscribe…always!!!

Listen, don’t beat your head against the wall trying to figure all this out. Let me help you with ALL of this and more.  Email marketing is often times trial and error.  It’s can be a very long process…it takes time.  Don’t get lost in the email marketing world.  Contact me today so I can help!

Think of it this way.  Even if it takes you months to actually get it all right, just ONE of those contacts actually making the right move at the right time can pay for all your hard work and then some.  But in order to get that contact (and hopefully more) to purchase from you, you have to nurture them the right way…through segmented email marketing!

So, get help and do it all the correct way.  Don’t settle for a purchased list or a $10/hour admin to help you.  Remember, you ALWAYS get what you pay for…ALWAYS!!

Have a question about your email marketing needs?  Contact me! I will walk you through what needs to be done first, we will set a plan in motion together, and I will work with your budget and your business needs!

Elizabeth
Virtual Marketing Assistant
Business Virtual Services, LLC
www.BusinessVirtualServices.com

 

Business Communication…why it’s so important.

Effective Business Communication

When you own a business, it’s essential to have GREAT communication skills.  Whether you are communicating with vendors, clients, colleagues, or employees, your business is not going to work if there is lousy communication.

If you don’t know how to communicate in your business, then you should invest some time and money into learning how to.  Here is a great website to find communication skills seminars in your area.

It’s extremely important to realize that how you communicate is often how people see you as a business owner.  This can have lasting effects on your business and in your business relationships!

Example:  I have spoken to many business owners over the last 4 years.  Because I have the luxury of choosing who I work with, I make sure I pick those who can communicate effectively.  Why, you ask?  Because if I can’t get the information I need from them to work on their projects, then I’m useless and not making MYSELF money.  If they can’t communicate their needs to me, then again, I’m useless and not making THEM money. If I can’t get their projects done, then their business falls short.  Not only are they already behind (which is why they reached out to me in the first place), but now they are even further behind and frustrated because all they want to do is explain their needs to me, but they can’t.

Because of this communication gap I often see with business owners, I started offering monthly support calls.  These phone meetings are a way for us both to come up with a current strategic marketing plan, a detailed budget, and a suggested marketing plan going ahead.  It’s an effective way to communicate what their needs are because I am able to walk them through their thoughts.  This is often what many business owners need assistance with but don’t even know it.

I have also come to understand that many business owners just can’t dedicate time for monthly support calls due to traveling or extremely busy schedules (which I fully understand).  That is why I also created a 3-part online program to help them organize their business, so they will know exactly what they need assistance with.  And they will have everything in order to effectively communicate their needs when they are ready.  Plus, since it’s an online program, they can work on it when their schedule allows, at their own pace.

Now…the hard part is keeping up with emails!!!  I have a very manageable email process I use, and it’s free.  It’s efficient and I can easily find any emails I need.  It helps with my communication process and it altogether helps my business in a big way!

Here is a really great article from Forbes that goes into detail about how to write effective business emails.

The overall message here is…learn how to effectively communicate with ALL your business people.  It will not only help YOUR business, but it will help others as well.

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Elizabeth Debol
Virtual Assistant
Business Virtual Services
elizabethdebol@live.com
http://www.businessvirtualservices.com/


THANKS FOR READING!!  🙂

Feel free to use my post on your blog.  Just please make sure to include the link to my blog in your post.  I would greatly appreciate it!:)