Are You a Grumpy Business Superhero?

Are You a Grumpy Business Superhero?

Whatever type of business you run there are times when you just need a little assistance. It may be a one-off to get back control or maybe just an hour a week to update your Facebook page. You may need proper business support.

*  Just because you run your own business doesn’t mean you have to be a superhero and do it all.

*  Just because you are a whizz with a drill, pen, wrench or pair of tweezers doesn’t mean you love hanging out on social media even though you know it’s where your clients are.

*  Just because you chose to go self-employed doesn’t mean you can’t spend time with the family at weekends.

*  Just because you love your work doesn’t mean you don’t worry at night about getting behind with the paperwork.

* Just because you can (after a fashion) ‘do the admin’ doesn’t mean you should have to.

 

There’s no point being a superhero if you are a tired, grumpy, resentful one!

 

Why not message me today and find out how I can help you.

 

Why a Virtual Assistant is a Great Idea If You Are a Writer

Why a Virtual Assistant is a Great Idea If You Are a Writer

If you are a budding writer, published author or a student with a dissertation to submit, you may find the task of typing up your manuscript or notes daunting. Not every who writes is a typist and many people in this field hire someone else, such as a virtual assistant, to get their work ready for publishing.

However many virtual assistants offer a writer service and can provide much more. They have skills and experience in many areas, lightening your load and freeing your time and mind to write more.  Outsourcing to a VA is getting more and more popular as freelancers and small business in all fields begin to understand the advantages to working with a flexible and affordable professional administrator.

 

7 reasons why a virtual assistant is a great idea if you are a writer:

 

Research

Of course a lot of writers like to visit the places they write about. They need to feel the atmosphere and the sights and sounds. But somebody else can easily research some of the more mundane details you may require. A virtual assistant will understand the need to research carefully, using multiple sources, and report the information found clearly with references. They can also research potential interviewees, sources and reviewers.

 

Formatting

From formatting your work to specific publisher guidelines to getting your manuscript ready for publishing to Kindle, a VA can take on this time consuming task.

 

Proof reading and editing

Depending on your VA’s skillset this could just be an initial read through for spelling, grammar and/or readability while others may offer an editing service.

 

Emails and fan letters

Monitoring your inbox for standard queries and requests, responding if appropriate, is an easy but vital service and provides a buffer against these daily distractions. This service, along with monitoring your social media (below) could be used continually or just during your intense writing periods.

 

Social media

If you aren’t already promoting your writing on social media your VA can set up the relevant accounts. If you are, but you don’t have the time or inclination to keep uploading, monitoring and responding, your pages will go stale and loose interactions. A virtual assistant can do as much or as little of your social media as you require.

 

Scheduling

Setting up interviews, talks, meetings and reading events can be fiddly and can eat away at your day. Why not allow your VA to access your online calendar and schedule some of these for you.

 

Transcription

As I mentioned at the beginning, not all writers use a keyboard. Some well known authors prefer to write long hand or to dictate their thoughts, but of course at some point these all require typing up.  A lot of VAs have worked previously as typists and secretaries and have experience of copy or audio typing. They also have the skills to do it accurately and quickly.

 

 

Why not drop me a message and take advantage of my free consultation to find out about my writer service and how I can help you.

 

10 Customer Service Tips for Small Businesses

10 Customer Service Tips for Small Businesses

It doesn’t matter how many customers your business has or what service or products you supply, great customer service should be your number one priority. At all times. However, small businesses need to be extra vigilant about their service as they don’t necessarily have a brand name and reputation to fall back on. Here are 10 customer service tips you can’t afford to ignore:

1. Experience counts

Make sure your customer experience is spot on from the very first enquiry onwards. Don’t zone out once the sale is complete and don’t be lax in following up and keeping in touch.

2. Make social media work for you

Interaction is key here. Show your customers you are a real person and you think of them as people rather than just potential profit. Feedback, reviews, recommendations and complaints are all very visual and a growing number of people use these platforms as a guide when choosing which company to use. Give the best customer service you can, outshine your competitors and make your clients feel extra special and you will win in this highly competitive arena.

3. Rapid response

Whether it is a letter, email or a comment on your Facebook page ALWAYS respond. And do so in good time. There is no excuse for leaving a question about your product unanswered on your selling site or not replying to an email within day or so. Not bothering to reply promptly looks like you don’t care about your customer. Customers want to feel valued. Make sure you have someone on your team checking your accounts and notifications regularly.

4. Be friendly

Make sure you interact with your followers on social media, talk to your customers, smile if you are customer facing (or even if you are on the phone). Get to know a little bit about them and remember their name and what they have purchased from you. There are various ways you can keep this information including CRMs or spreadsheets but do make sure whichever method is GDPR compliant and you have a data privacy policy in place.

5. £1 or £1000?

Treat all your customers the same regardless of how much they are spending. £10 spent on your product may have been harder to come by for that customer than the £100 or the £1000 another customer spends that day. Remember they have chosen to give their money, however hard earned, to you.

6. Promises promises

Don’t promise what you can’t fulfil. Always promise less and deliver more. Complete the work a bit earlier, add a small packet of sweets or a pen in the delivery box, do a little bit extra for free. All these ensure your customer feels special.

7. Say thank you

Always thank your customer for spending their money with you. Everyone expects an automated ‘thank you for your order’ email but a personal thank you, either as a hand written note in the delivery box or a personal email, goes a long way. What you can stretch to time and money wise will obviously depend on the size of your customer base but remember this is also a good way to ask for feedback and reviews.

8. Listen and acknowledge

Always listen and read feedback. Proactively respond highlighting something specific they mentioned rather than just a standard generic reply. For less favourable feedback ensure you acknowledge the issue and feedback to the customer what steps you will take.

9. Hire people people

Employ those who have high customer service experience and values. All your team members should have the same care and attitude for your clients whether they are standing in front of them, on the phone or miles away buying online.

10. Don’t forget the oldies

Don’t fall for the highly irritating sales ploy some big names go for by giving all the best deals and service to new customers only. Value your existing clients as much if not more. You want them to leave you great feedback, refer you to their friends and buy again. A study by The Nielson Company found people are 4 times as likely to buy something if it is a recommended by a friend. Try a loyalty incentive or a referral scheme with rewards, or ensure you send them details of latest offers earlier than they are advertised – again be clear on GDPR and ensure they have signed up for these type of emails before adding them to any mailing list.

 

How Take A Letter Virtual Admin Services got its Name?

How Take A Letter Virtual Admin Services got its Name?

I was asked the other day how I came up with the name Take a Letter Virtual Admin Services so thought I would explain….

 

Finding the perfect name for your business can be hard work

 

Do you use your name, a play on words that mean something in your industry, or something that has no relation what so ever? You can spend ages playing around with ideas, come up with what you think is the perfect one, only to find someone beat you to it! It pays to Google your initial ideas and see what comes up before you invest too much time and emotion in a name. However, if you are finding that you can’t move forward with starting your business it may be time to make that decision.

 

My name already featured in my photography website so it needed to be something else.

 

Why Take A Letter Virtual Admin Services?

 

When I was working out my name and niche I thought about the message I wanted my brand to convey. I decided as a trained secretary who learnt to touch type with my hands under a cover so I couldn’t cheat, I should use something that highlighted my extensive experience. I also wanted a name synonymous with efficiency, proficiency and accuracy. At first I worried that people younger than me might not get the reference but Take A Letter kept nagging as did the song Take a Letter Miss Jones from the hit musical Blood Brothers.

 

I wanted to get across that although I have been working as a administrator, PA and in business support for over 20 years, I am forward-thinking and completely at home on my Mac as I was on the old manual typewriter. I may have learnt my trade at a time of closed punctuation and formal letters but I am highly skilled in today’s office environment.

Incidentally, in one of my positions back in the mid 80s I was shown into a small office with a desk, a huge VDU and tower hard drive. I was given a box of 10 workbooks and floppy discs and told I had a week to teach myself MS-Dos and Word Processing! Throughout my career I have always made a point of up skilling and keeping updated with my industry. I needed that to come across in my business name.

 

After a few days mulling this all over I checked Google and Take a Letter was being used, although not by a Virtual Assistant. Refusing now to relinquish the idea I added wording to show what I was offering my clients and worked out my tagline.

 

I had my name!

 

Take A Letter Virtual Admin Services – traditional business values, working the modern way.

 

 

 

Choosing your business name might have been the easiest decision you have had to make or one of the hardest. How did you arrive at your business name and do you love it or are you ready for a change?

 

5 More Tasks to Outsource to a Virtual Assistant Today

5 More Tasks to Outsource to a Virtual Assistant Today

As a follow on to my original 5 Tasks blog post here are some more tasks you could outsource to a virtual assistant.

Invoices

Your VA can not only generate and send your invoices but can also chase late payers – always such a time consuming and job!

Logging expenses

If you have envelopes or an inbox full of receipts your virtual assistant can sort and print these off for your files, enter the details onto a spreadsheet so they are ready for you to transfer either straight to your tax return or to your accountant. Note: For your VA to do any kind of book-keeping tasks you should ensure they are registered under the HMRC anti-money laundering regulations.

Social media audit

You may have already got around to setting up your business on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc but if it isn’t generating the interactions or business you hoped for why not get your pages and accounts checked. If your VA offers social media services they can run through an audit and recommend tweaks in your profile or set up that should help.

If you haven’t got your business onto social media yet make that number 1 on this list!

Holiday cover

Yes, just because you own a business doesn’t mean you don’t have time off! Sometimes we need to remember why we went self-employed in the first place – flexibility, more time with the family – sound familiar? Your VA should enable you to take a break and not worry about your business. A VA can field your emails responding to enquiries on your behalf, and schedule posts on your social media to keep your profiles active.

Typing & Transcription

Whether your have your book draft in long hand or patient notes on audio outsourcing to a virtual assistant will almost certainly be quicker and more efficient than typing them up yourself, saving you time and money. Mail merges, newsletters, correspondence and reports can all be taken off your hands.

 

Interested in outsourcing some of these tasks and saving time and money? Drop me a message using the contact form.

Sourcing Images Well – Copyright Law

Sourcing Images Well – Copyright Law

Twitter posts with images are said to receive 150% more retweets.

Blogs, social media updates, websites and newsletters are just some of the times you may need to find the ideal image to get your message across.

It’s easy to just right click and save a photo you like, upload it to your social accounts but STOP!

Before you press publish do you know where that image originally came from? Who is the original photographer? And more importantly do you have the right to use it?

A photographer’s tale

At this point I should perhaps tell you I have a vested interest in this subject. As well as my Virtual Assistant business I am also a photographer and I supply stock images to a couple of agencies along with some portrait and product work.

Just by chance I came across one of my images being used by a local taxi company as the banner for their website. I contacted the owner of the company and politely pointed out that I hadn’t received a request for the use, or indeed had any license been purchased. I did get a reply, mostly abusive but quite emphatically stating that as he’d found it online (my Flickr account) he could use it however he wanted.

I replied, again politely, asking how he would feel if he spent his valuable time driving somebody to their destination only to have them disappear without paying the bill? I never did get another response but the image was taken down.

This particular image was not held with an agency, if it had been they would have pursued the taxi company for payment.

Incidentally, I am more experienced now and have set my Flickr account to block downloads. This is only a deterrent though and the fact remains he had no right to take and use my photograph. He was the first person I came across using my images. There have been many more and I now include an invoice with my email. Some pay, some ignore but too many say they weren’t aware they were breaking the law.

Copyright law

Photographers, illustrators or artists are not required to register images or watermark them and just because it’s on Flickr or Google Images does not mean it is free to use.

It is the users responsibility to undertake all reasonable methods to find out the original source of a photo and then ask permission or purchase a license.

You can read Google’s advice on using images from its library and also see Direct.gov for UK Copywrite Law.

A word on licenses

It is useful to understand the various license rights that might be attributed to an image. Don’t forget you are just purchasing the right to use the image, the ownership of the image generally remains with the original creator as does the copyright.

Rights-Managed – when you purchase this license you are normally purchasing it for a specific pre-determined use – a blog post say. If you then want to use the image in a different way you will need to purchase another license specifying the new usage.

Rights-Free – contrary to belief, and somewhat confusingly, this does not mean an image is free to use. When purchased this license means you can use the image as many times as you wish, and in different ways, although you can’t re-sell or change it. This type of license may have a time stipulation. These images tend to be cheaper than Rights-Managed and are often sold in different sizes so you can choose the best option for the particular medium you are using it for.

Creative Commons – these images are provided by the photographer or illustrator normally for free. However the usage is dependent on the specific sub-license requirement. For instance you may be required to credit the creator. There are 6 different types of Creative Commons license so make sure you understand which one relates to the image you use and abide by the stipulations.

Public Domain – Public Domain images are NOT just images that are on the web or ‘out in the public domain’. They normally relate to images where the creator has waived the intellectual property rights or the rights have expired. It is still good practice to credit the original creator but once you have ascertained the image is a Public Domain image you are generally free to use it as you wish.

Source well

To be certain you are not breaking copyright law ensure you source your images from well-known and respectable stock agencies. There are free images available from sites such as Unsplash and Pixabay, however the disadvantage here is the best ones are already being widely used. For more choice you will need to pay and agencies such as Getty Images and Shutterstock offer either individual download prices or, if you need regular images, they offer packages. For original images you could get professional photographs taken, either of styled set ups to suit your website or blog or simple product shots for your e-commerce site.

Finally, remember the photographer or illustrator who created these images is likely to be a freelancer or small business owner trying to make a living too. Don’t be that taxi driver!