I came across an article from Entrepreneur.com that discusses 20 reasons why entrepreneurs start a business. It’s a pretty extensive list. That being said, the reason I started my business is not included.
I started my business to help other entrepreneurs. Since I’m a natural helper this seemed like the next step for me. Of course there are other reasons, like supplementing my income, college expenses, family and travel.
I began my business to help business owners grow their businesses in a way that will allow them to work less hours, spend more time with family or traveling, or whatever they desire. I offer them a way to document their daily tasks, in a way that allows them to outsource or hire someone else to do them. Basically get it out of their head and onto paper for someone else to do.
Go ahead and read the aforementioned article. I’m curious. Is your reason why listed? Comment below and tell us your WHY!
When we entrepreneurs first have an idea for a business and go for it. We start out all alone taking care of all aspects of our business. And it may remain like that for a long time. However, think about it…can you really do EVERYTHING? Are you an expert at EVERYTHING?
Doing business consists of bookkeeping, social media, blogging, marketing, email lists, product creation, customer support, and much more. Do you have time to perform all of the tasks necessary for these areas in your business? If so you are probably spending way too much time working and not enough time with family and friends. I mean, that is the reason for having our own business, right? To be able to earn more money and have time to do the things we like to do. We want to travel, volunteer and spend time with family and friends.
There are people that can help you with these parts of your business. There are some that focus on a single area of concern, like a social media expert, or a customer support expert. Others can do a bit of everything. Some do outsourcing. Others hire virtual assistants.
Outsourcing is where you hire someone to provide specific services. Usually the person you outsource work to is an expert in that service.
A virtual assistant, or VA, usually provides many services. They know a lot about a lot of things. Consider hiring a VA to give you some of your valuable time back to use in other areas of your business or personal life. Some common things that are given to a VA to do are bookkeeping, research, manage email, social media, scheduling appointments, transcription and social media. But each VA has their own set of skills. You will need to talk to your prospective virtual assistants to see if they are able to do what you need.
The following is taken from a conversation that I had with my friend Ellen Marie. She is a virtual assistant. We talked about how one can find the right virtual assistant.
Pam: In your words, describe what a VA is.
Ellen: A VA is more than just an administrative assistant. They is a collaborative partner in your business. When I say partner, what I mean is they should “show up” for your business and treat it as if it were their own, insuring your success.
Pam: What kinds of services does a VA provide?
Ellen: Virtual Assistants perform a wide array of services for your business. It can be as simple as typing letters or responding to emails, but there are some who do so much more like marketing, social media, graphic design, web design and maintenance or email campaigns. There are some “generalist” and some “niche” VAs. Based on your particular needs you would speak to a VA a couple of times to be sure you are getting exactly what you need.
Pam: What are some questions to ask when hiring a VA?
Ellen: I would ask the VA about her experience, work schedule, fees, how do you organize your work, technology, ask for suggestions on collaboration so you can work smoothly together. Also what are your skills? What skills are you best at?
Pam: What would you recommend not asking a perspective VA?
Ellen:Do not ask “what can you do for me”. That’s too vague. Get specific. Mention the specific platforms you use and ask if she has knowledge of them. Remember, you are looking for a partner, not an employee.
The main things Ellen stresses is that you must be clear on what you need and what the expected outcome is? If you are vague in asking for what you need, you will not get exactly what you want!
Ellen can be reached at:
With Hurricane Matthew beating down our doorsteps here in South Florida, I thought I would take this time to talk about something critical. Something everyone and every business should have in place. That is emergency preparedness – a contingency plan.
Create a contingency plan to address the needs of the business in the event that something occurs outside of normal business operations. This includes events like a personal emergency, natural disaster (hurricane, earthquake, flood, fire, etc.), or even sabotage like a hacked website. These things are a possibility for every person and every business.
What would happen to your business if you fall ill and could not attend to your business for six months? How about a devastating weather emergency? In 2005, here in South Florida, we had Hurricane Wilma. We were without electricity for over a week. Luckily my family and I were able to evacuate the area to family in another state but if i had a business at the time and no power, how would I run my business? As a matter of fact, I was working a full time job in 2005. Some of my fellow employees were asked to take their computers and temporarily relocate to Orlando. That was the contingency plan in effect.
Your contingency plan will consist of several different scenarios. The plan for a weather disaster and relocation will be different than that of a website hacking. When developing your plan, you must think about all of the different scenarios that can potentially disrupt your business. I recommend building a list of these scenarios first.
When developing the actual plan for each scenario you must think about who, what, when and how these things will happen.
Who: Who will implement the plan? Who are participants in the plan?
What: What is the scenario or event disruption and how will it affect your business?
When: When will the plan be enacted?
How: How will the plan be implemented? This is the meat of the plan; what will happen in this scenario.
Once the plan is fully documented, make sure more than one person is aware of the plans and document. Store it somewhere safe; somewhere it will always be accessible.
My last tip is to make sure you review your plan at a minimum, yearly. Things change and you want to keep the plan up to date.
Click here to go to the Small Business Administration website to read further information about emergency preparedness. It contains some great information, PDF’s and checklists. Here is a link to the SBA for information about Cybersecurity plans as well.
Some entrepreneurs go to business conferences every chance they get. Others feel so intimidated that they never step out to see how attending a business conferences can help their business. I have found that attending conferences really do help entrepreneurs in many different areas. For that entrepreneur who works alone, getting out and seeing others (in person) proves that you are not alone. There are others, just like you, working on learning, building and growing their business.
Here are some sure fire things to do at business conferences to get the most out of your attendance.
1. Network. Network. Network.
Talk to everyone. Make sure you take the time to get to know other attendees. Introduce yourself, ask them about their business and then share how your business can serve them or others they know. Listen to other others with sincerity and interest. Grab a coffee with someone. Go to lunch or dinner with some new contacts or even ones you already know. Who knows? That person you are talking to may become your next best business associate, partner or client!
2. Wear your nametag.
Wearing your name tag will help you with networking. Other attendees will have an easier time remembering your name and you will have an easier time remembering theirs.
3. Bring plenty of business cards.
Once you have met another attendee and connected, share your business cards with each other so you can follow up and connect with them after the event.
4. Attend as many of the sessions as possible.
You are there to learn. Take notes and ask questions.
5. If there is a vendor area, visit the vendors.
Learn more about vendor products and offerings. This is also a great way to network. You never know when you will need that certain product.
6. Follow up with everyone you met at the event.
You met them in person, now solidify your relationship with each person so they will remember you. Send them an email once you return home and connect on social media.
7. TAKE ACTION!
Make sure to review your conference materials after the event is over. Make a list of what you learned and then take action. Put what you learned into practice! I mean, that’s why you went in the first place, right?
What are some actions you have taken at conferences that helped you get the most out of it?
Lately I have been reading alot about what happens to your online accounts after you pass away.
I began to think about my online usage and how many accounts I actually have out there. What will happen to them all? And what about all of the automatic renewals I pay for? If I don’t tell someone about them and something happens to me, they will keep on renewing year after year? And how will my family pay the bills? They have no idea what bills are even out there. I decided to do something about it. I am working on a project what will help me document everything for them.
Have you, a relative or a friend run into anything like this? What were the problems? How was it handled? Please comment here or contact me. I would love to talk to you about it.
If something happened to you, do you know what will happen to all of your online accounts? Well, for a short while, money will continue to be deducted from your bank account for services you are no longer using. The possibility of someone hacking into an online account of yours and making purchases on your behalf is always there. How about someone hacking into your email account and learning your password information to your bank account? They would probably bleed your dry.
Something like this actually did happen. I read this story the other day about a gentleman who’s email account got hacked. The hacker found out login information to his investment account. You know where this is going, right? Do yourself a favor and start organizing your digital life.
One way to start organizing your online assets is to use a Password Manager to gather all of your accounts and login information into a central place. Password Managers do a LOT more than this but this is one of the great parts about using them. Two of the most popular ones are LastPass and Roboform. I use both of them for different purposes. LastPass has a free version as well as Premium and Enterprise versions.
LastPass just recently updated their software to incorporate an Emergency Access feature. This allows you to designate someone to take over your account if something happens to you. I call this person your digital executor. Your digital executor, when you configure the option, will receive an email from LastPass. They are given the ability to request access to your account, in your absence. They will be given access to your accounts and passwords without having to know your master password. Once they get access they can use LastPass to log in to your accounts and pay bills, close accounts or do whatever is necessary at the time.
I highly suggest you start investing some time into your online account management. You just never know what will happen day to day. And should something extreme happen, your family will be happy to know that someone was designated to take care of these things for you.
Check out LastPass at www.lastpass.com.