It’s Okay To Crave A VA – But Do Not Just Dream About It, Get One!

We would not be doing the type of work that we are doing if we did not like it or enjoy it, at least, right? Marketing and taking on new clients and services is great! Admit it…you love the rush! Why wouldn’t you?! *smiley face*. Meetings, quotes, project management and overall communication, and all of sudden,we realize that we are strapped for time and we begin to forget some of the mental notes that we have made earlier in the day. Who do I need to see next? What communication is outstanding? Did I even get all my invoices out for the month?

It’s amazing to see before your very own eyes just how much administration that time, productivity and enjoyment can generate! About now you wish that you have a hand that can keep up with your energy levels and help according to your hourly needs with administration. Ah, you thought it was Virtually impossible to get part time virtually assistants in South Africa, didn’t you?

Reasons to act now rather than later:

  1. You are still in control of your business.
  2. You cannot afford to lose precious time interviewing all the part time assistants in Johannesburg!
  3. Ugh, employee training…who wants to do that! *sad face*
  4. You do not have the time to micromanage people. Your business needs you to keep producing the goods!
  5. You may not get the maximum output out of an employee that you have invested in.
  6. It is a proven fact that businesses grow from collaboration with external or outsourced entities than when looking internally for solutions all the time.

Imagine getting to a point where every time you sit down at your work station, it is to open new channels and to create new business without the burden of worry about accurate capture of data or catching up on outstanding communication. With a virtual assistant in Pretoria, this is more than possible, it is a readily available administration service! Great news…you just got cooler! Choosing Admin Assist, you have just joined an elite group of productive successful people.

Admin For Success – It’s Your Turn To Succeed!

It is that time of the year when you have to get your hustle on. Meetings here, and conferences there. These are elements of running a business that you simply cannot do without. As you know this by now, networking equal leads, and leads equal sales. That’s how we keep going.

Following a healthy business model, your business activities will include market research. This is something that you would have spent a lot of time doing prior to launching your business, but also, now that you are in it with both feet, you constantly have to monitor the reception of your products and services. How has the market reacted? Am I getting a piece of the pie? Taking time to measure your performance demands time away from the driving wheel.

Competitive analysis. Apart from running your own business, you probably have to also keep an eye on what your peers are doing, and how you can make your products and services stand out from the rest. Sending out quotes and later discussing them with your prospective clients as they make their decisions is a process that might take you away from your work.

Networking events. Would it not be nice to come back to an office where no work has piled up in your absence, and where your inbox has ‘magically’ cleared itself out and automatically responded to your clients? This is why most of us tend to stay away from events, to our detriment, because we fear the backlog.

What if I told you that one does not have to worry about this anymore? That you have an admin assistant in Pretoria that is ready to take on the administration and time consuming bits for you. Yes, outsource, get capable hands to help you.

Just listening to some successful enterprises talk about what makes a good part time assistant, the following qualities became a feature in their testimonies:

  • An organized approach
  • Good communication skills
  • An acceptabletelephone manner
  • Initiative
  • PC literacy
  • Honesty and discretion
  • Good time management
  • Team ethic
  • Ability to cope with pressure
  • Professionalism, an absolute must

The admin assistant role is a demanding one and requires a diversification of skills, from organization, customer service and right down to typing an acceptable number of words per minute as to save time and avoid a backlog. When looking for a virtual assistant you should make sure that the service that you are sourcing is from a stable company, a service provider that has a vibrant relationship with its clients. Good admin is key for success. Don’t let things get out of hand at the office, it’s your turn to enjoy the services of a competent virtual assistant.

An Admin Assistant for good times – You earned it!

You deserve a time out. You need to recover health and strength. Let part time assistants in Johannesburg save the day.

The most valuable asset your business has is you! Business grinds to a halt when you are not present mentally and spiritually. All that vision, creativity and drive comes from the brain, and the brain consumes energy in order to carry out its functions, and where there is creativity there is heart and soul. So yes, business affects us holistically, which is why you need time out. Taking a positive step forward means letting go of ones fears and finding the right admin partner.

Go on, find a competent virtual assistant in Johannesburg to ‘man’ the office on that special day when you decide to look after those valuable resources; mind, body and soul. Think of it this way, now that you are successful you can afford to outsource office help, be away and still keep your enterprise running.

Destressing is very important – Stress causes a malfunction in the brain’s electrical activity, and the result is loss of crucial information. We forget to do simple tasks, we mix things that do not belong together or we simply become forgetful. Sourcing part time assistants will help you step away in order to decongest your mind and let the brain matter heal naturally. After all, where are those creative ideas going to come from if you are constantly tired?

Restoring Creativity is the manner in which we keep our businesses relevant and growing. A tired individual cannot be asked to steer a ship as this requires one to be fit, alert and well-coordinated. Quiet time away from the office while knowing that your business is in great hands is priceless!

A time to celebrate. Make your reason to step away a celebratory one. You have to stop, look back and admire your efforts now and then. If it means taking a couple of days off to treat yourself well, do it! Some of the most impressive business ideas come when we are not in the office. Being outside and seeing the world at work stimulates our minds and induces creativity. The best part of it all is that now you can afford to do that.

Rest assured. What makes us feel the need to be hands on and in the office the whole time is the all-important interaction with our clients. Leave this to an unsourced professional for one day couldn’t hurt. With a virtual assistant in Pretoria you know that you are not entrusting your hard work with just anyone, but with an outfit that has been around and continues to serve business.

Rest, recreation and recuperation are integral parts which cannot be left outside the daily effort to succeed. You have earned your admin assistant, your time off and the opportunity to step away and look in from outside, assess your growth and carry one succeeding.

Confessions of a small business owner – This is why I crave a Virtual Assistants…

The time I spend on answering emails, which I do appreciate, and the time I spend in bookkeeping, sending out bulk correspondence and scheduling appointments could easily eat up 65% of my day. Time that I would rather spend sourcing new business and strengthening my small business’s position in this very competitive market place. Yes, at some point in our start-up adventure we believe in our ability to succeed. We take on mammoth challenges and work 18 hours a day in order to get off the ground and begin climbing upwards gaining new heights of continuity and success.

When the time is right to get a helping hand, somehow we become reluctant to think about hiring a more efficient hand. Maybe it is because we feel that we need to always be in control of every aspect of our business, which is not a foreign concept, but also, we are challenged to think big, to think expansion.

Delegating tasks, and especially administrative tasks is both a sign of maturity and the eagerness to grow. There are all sorts of realities that you will facewhen thinking about hiring admin people. You have to employa full-time administrator, maybe you can afford to do so, or you simply cannot afford to employ a full time helping hand. Labour proceedures, conducting interviews and such is something that we would rather not do as a small business’ time is always precious, and should be spent wisely because we shall never get it back once spent.

Here’s why I say you should consider a virtual assistant:

  1. Recover your social life – Delegating administrative tasks may just inject some life back into your living. We all know that in the first two to three years of starting a business, we work while others are asleep and we rarely see daylight. Wouldn’t it be nice to finally be able to go out after a day’s work and enjoy a few drinks with your peers?
  1. Recover your family life – Business is a real sacrifice, but it should not be like that forever. Get a part-time assistant in South Africa and free upmore time for family.
  1. Recover your health – Making money is great, but if you cannot spend any of it on your own health, then it’s all pointless. Your health comes first, and so when thinking about finding part-time assistants, you are doing the right thing!
  1. Work less – By hiring a virtual assistant in Pretoria, you will be able to work the hours that you should really be working per day. I want to imagine that you did not quit your job of 8 hours a day in order to work 18 hours a day!

Going forward with my business adventure as a start-up, I cannot deny the need for a virtual assistant. Getting professional virtual assistance means growth and freedom.

One Fundamental Thing You Should Learn To Survive This Era

I read this story once that said that in the 60’s when the Russians and Americans where competing to get the first man to the moon, the American astronauts discovered that their pens didn’t work in space. They couldn’t write because there was no gravity to pull the ink out onto the paper. So NASA spent thousands of US dollarsto invent an anti-gravity pen. Their Russian counterparts simply used a pencil…

How much truth there is to this story I have not determined, but it is useful in describing the fine difference between efficiency and effectiveness. Knowledge that is proving to be fundamental in surviving this day and age where living in.

Some clarification: Efficiency means making the most out of limited resources. Effectiveness relates to how close something came to its goal.

You can be efficient without being effective when you spend hours creating an extensive folder system in your Inbox instead of answering your e-mails or if you rearrange all your sales leads instead of calling them. You’re being very organised, but you have not moved yourself closer to your goal of answering your e-mails or making sales.

You can of course also be effective without being efficient. From our story above we can see that the Americans were effective – they did manage to invent a ‘space pen’ and write in space – but at what cost? The more efficient solution was the use of a pencil.

Efficiency and effectiveness is however not a case of the one vs the other. It is about finding balance and about being effective in the most efficient manner possible. In an era where both time and money is valued higher than ever before, it will be to our benefit to train ourselves to attain this goal.

The simplest way in which to do this is to set yourself a reminder to go off at set intervals during your workday. Perhaps initially every 2 hours, then every 4 hours (2 – 4 times per day) asking yourself: “Am I doing busyness or business?”

It won’t be long until the mindset has infiltrated the way you execute daily tasks, do long-term planning and even decide which social responsibilities you take on. All to the aim of maximizing the impact you have on the world and ensuring you spend your time on the things that are most valuable to you.

Stumbling Block to Successfully Growing Your Business

In my career as a Business Coach and prior to that as an Auditor in the VAT division at SARS (South African Revenue Services) I became aware of one of the most common errors made by business people when they first go out on their own and start a business. What is this you ask? Well put simply it is a lack of mastering the basics that underpin a business.

Any business needs to be built on a sound foundation and this is based on a structure which should be prevalent in all businesses no matter what their size.

What is this structure? Any business is made up of five crucial pillars:

Administration

Finance

Marketing

Sales

Operations

Now the average Joe or Josephine who goes into business is great at the Operations part. The mechanic can fix cars, the electrician can wire houses, the seamstress can make dresses etc. This is all good and well while the business is small and the people they work with are friends and close acquaintances. But then the business starts to grow! Now they are spending all their time being in the business doing those things that make up the operations of the business. The business looks good and starts to grow, less and less time is spent on doing the administration. Invoices are not sent out on time or even worse nobody actually follows up on the payment of the invoices.

Things generally still go well as long as the money still comes in and there is enough to pay the bills and cash flow is healthy. But one day a cheque bounces or a debit order doesn’t go through and the business owner realizes that things are not going well. What looks like a strong business is suddenly on the verge of going under. Not because it isn’t viable but through a lack of sound administration!

Many a good business has failed through this lack of administration. Someone who issues invoices, reconciles payments and follows up on outstanding debtors. Someone who monitors the budget and makes sure that enough money is flowing in to meet the commitments of the business. Without that attention a business can end up folding and the owner losing money.

This scenario is more common than you might think. One of my clients came to a coaching session and said “Michael, business is better than ever! I am sitting on a R400 000 profit mid-year!” My response to him was “Then why haven’t you paid me?” On closer inspection he had most of that profit sitting in uncontrolled debtors.

What is my message to business owners? If you are not in control of the administration in your business you will find many people knocking on your door and demanding payment while you neglect your own debtors. This is not a great situation to be in.

As a small business most of us neglect this aspect because it is not what we are good at and therefore we choose to putting it off and sometimes not doing it. Do this at your peril! There are many solutions to this problem and one of them is to hire someone to do it for you. But I can’t afford that you say! In reply I ask a simple question, can you afford not to? Hiring someone does not mean having a full time worker, it can be a half day employee or someone who comes in only for the hours you need them. If you can’t or don’t want to accommodate someone at your office, why not look at a virtual assistant? Someone who completes the admin tasks you require via electronic means such as e-mail. Using part-time assistants, be they virtual or on-site, means when your business is small they can work fewer hours and as you grow you add more hours.

As a business coach I highly recommend that you have someone dedicated to your administrative needs in the business allowing you to concentrate on the goal of growing your business!

How to Find a Good Assistant – The First Four Steps

The right assistant can add years to your life! Ask any CEO, manager or business owner and they will tell you that good staff, and especially admin assistants (be they virtual or on-site), can lighten your workload and make your life easier. They’re there to support you professionally in work-related as well as personal matters. While you are out growing your business, signing deals and making money, your admin assistant is making sure your bookkeeping is up to date, everyone at yesterday’s meeting got the minutes, your car’s licence is renewed and your son’s birthday present is ready.

Finding this precious individual can be quite tedious because it seems anyone who can type, answer a phone or open a file is quick to consider himself/herself an admin assistant! If you don’t have an HR department nor the time to filter through 100’s of CV’s, I suggest you read further.

During AdminAssist’s four years of business we have recruited 40 superstar admin assistants based on information shared in the book The Business Coach by Brad Sugars. If you have decided it’s time to add an assistant to your team, then the guidelines below will certainly help ease the process.

Some points of order: We’ve decided to spread the post over two weeks, as this allows us to add more depth to each step as opposed to just skimming over a point. We refer to assistants as female although many excellent male assistants have crossed our path. Some steps will have to be modified if you’re recruiting a virtual assistant as opposed to an on-site assistant. And lastly, this recruitment process can be used to find personnel for any role and not only admin assistants.

Step 1 – List the Qualities Your Require

If you don’t know who you’re looking for, how will you know you’ve found her?

This post was written with a start-up or small business in mind, but if you have a larger business you may well include in the process all the staff members that will be working directly with the new employee. They can offer valuable insight into what is required. If they’re part of the process from the beginning, it will also aid team-spirit.

The first step is to define your ideal candidate in terms of four aspects: Character, skills, qualifications and experience level.

  • Character

Whereas skills can be taught in a relatively short time such as within a one-day course or a year’s worth of night school, your adult assistant sort of ‘already comes with’ her character. Very loosely defined we can say that character is everything her mom was supposed to teach her! And while you can help a person improve their character it isn’t really your function in this context. And this is why it is imperative to start with character first.

An example of character traits you might require: “My assistant must have integrity, be optimistic and a problem-solver. She must be able to think on her feet, think outside the box and think before she speaks.”

  • Qualifications

Divide the qualifications the role requires into those that are non-negotiable and those that are preferred. Non-negotiables in the field of admin might include a qualification in bookkeeping or Office software. Preferred qualifications might include completion of a course in writing or photo editing.

  • Skills

Which skills are necessary for her to do her job successfully? Must she be able to speak another language or perhaps be able to handle customer complaints effectively?

  • Experience level

Experience level often goes hand in hand with salary expectation, and for good reason. Employing an experienced individual saves you the time and effort of teaching the basics of the specific role. If the assistant is experienced she will alsobe able to perform at her peak within a shorter time than an unexperienced person.

The flip side is if you are currently cash-strapped you can attempt to find an assistant with little or no experience but with great potential. Then you can offer a lower starting salary and grow her salary as she grows in experience.

Step 2 – Place a Strategic Ad

The ad must contain two sections: A first section with abundant information regarding the position such as the location, hours, qualifications and salary, andthen a second section with very specific instructions on how to apply.

The strategy behind this step is two-fold. Firstly, if you provide sufficient information beforehand you evade unsuitable applicants. The idea is that a candidate won’t apply if she’s unable or unwilling to meet your requirements. Secondly, if you give very specific instructions for applying and the candidate does not follow them, it goes to show that she does not pay attention to detail and/or does not follow instructions carefully.

An example of a strategic ad:

We are looking for a part-time admin assistant with proven integrity and the ability to stay calm under pressure. This person must speak Afrikaans and English excellently and be based in Pretoria East. Experience in an admin position is non-negotiable and experience in the legal or medical industry will be preferential. She/he will sometimes work from home and sometimes from the client’s office. Payment will be per hour worked at a rate of R80/hour.

 Process:

Applicants are to e-mail their CV’s to coordinator@adminassist.co.za and highlight their most relevant qualities, qualifications and experience in the e-mail body. Failure to do so will result in the CV being discarded without being considered. All levels of the relevant training and work experience will be considered. Closing date: 31 July 2016.

 

Step 3 – Immediate Elimination

As your ad specified, all candidates who failed to follow your application process lose your consideration. For the example above, you (or an existing assistant if you have one) will now simply delete those e-mails where the applicants did not highlight their most relevant qualities, qualifications and experience in the e-mail body.

If the applicant didn’t do as requested, it means that he/she is possibly applying for jobs willy-nilly and not searching for a specific position at your firm. Those candidates that did do as requested demonstrated their attention to detail and their care to perform duties as stipulated.

It only takes 5 -10 seconds per e-mail to complete this step. Take it from someone with experience in the field, this process of immediate elimination will save you a lot of time and effort.

Step 4 – Elimination by Qualification, Skill or Experience Level

If you have listed qualifications, skills or experience levels that are non-negotiable, then the next step is to scan through the remaining applications and eliminate those candidates who do not possess these non-negotiables.

Remember that the candidate (as per our request in the ad) has written this information in the e-mail body, meaning you don’t have to open attachments to find it. Therefore, it only takes about 15 seconds to filter an application and you can ask an existing employee to help you as the process is quite straight-forward.

After you have worked through the non-negotiables, or if you don’t have non-negotiables, eliminate now based on the preferred qualifications, skills and experience levels you listed.

These were the first four steps of eight. In the next post we will teach you how to conduct a clever little group interview to separate the wheat from the chaff and finalise the recruitment process. We will also share the figures from the first time we followed this process as an example of just how effective it is.

Assistants to suit your business’s changing needs

In today’s fast changing business environment, companies across all sectors continue to face all sorts of challenges in reaching their long and short term goals.  Business owners need to step up their game in order to stay relevant and ahead of their competitors.  With the growing need for new strategies and effective management, a new area of support has stepped into the services industry; The Virtual Assistant.

Why use a virtual assistant?

Virtual Assistants are highly skilled individuals appointed to offer assistance to their clients through the efficient use of modern technology.  By helping business owners and managers focus on their main objectives and responsibilities, the virtual assistant is able to take up a variety of tasks.  Tasks may include the following: Market and Product research, email correspondence with clients and suppliers, telephonic meetings, managing of social media posts, maintenance of databases, logistic management, graphic design etc. just to name a few.  The goal of the virtual assistant is to fill the gap between the client, their product and the end user as effectively and efficiently as possible.

There are several benefits to employing virtual assistants; using a virtual assistant helps lower overall overheads as you do not need to permanently employ someone, you are able to contract someone to fit the specific need at hand for that time and project.

Why would someone prefer being a virtual assistant rather than being a traditional employee?

There are obviously many different motivations behind being a virtual assistant rather than sticking to the traditional 9 – 5 scenario.

As many companies have had to downsize in the recent years due to building pressure under economic change, there has been a wave of professionals who had to start acting as independent agents offering their skills to a broader spectrum of clients.

For others it may be a more efficient and family friendly work pace; as it saves a lot of valuable resources in cutting back on commuting costs and being able to manage time more effectively.  Not only is working from home or having a mobile office a perk to most people in the work force, it adds a quality to work assignments as the professionals are able to focus solely on their clients’ needs and the job at hand.

Another important facet comes in with the increase in demand for skilled technical support globally.  Virtual assistance creates a platform where these technical service professionals are more readily available to small and large companies alike.  Ensuring they both receive the service they need when they need it.

In conclusion the use of Virtual Assistants in your business will be a great asset to your company’s growth and the effective management of resources.

How to Stop Doing the Things you Don’t Like

In a previous post ‘How to focus on what you do best and maximize your impact’ we stated that the most important reason for delegation is that it enables you to spend the majority of your time in your strength zone – causing you to be happier, more productive, deliver better quality work and increase your impact. But how do you delegate?

  1. Identify your strengths
  2. Offload everything else

Q2

My greatest strengths are in devising strategies, doing preparation/groundwork and communicating with my team. However, when you think about all the rest that needs to happen (to grow a business), such as the actual implementation of the plans, the daily management, tracking the progress and ensuring continuous improvement… then I fall short. By much.

When I first started my business I devoted more than half my available work hours to administrative activities. This included things like responding to e-mail, managing my calendar, paying bills, collecting money, writing marketing material, trying to design my own website and the list goes on.

The point is I was doing a lot of things others could have done better, or at least as well, as I could.

 

Offloading to Others

Offloading happens in 2 steps:

  1. Identify those tasks that others can also do

Each time you look at a task, ask yourself, Is this something someone else can do or is it something only I can do? Then you only do those things that others cannot do.

  1. Slowly start hiring part-time assistants

Now you start finding assistants who can take over the tasks you identified above. This can’t usually happen immediately. It can take a few years and will possibly be a continuous process.

Examples of such assistants include:

  • Web developerto handle all the technical details of your website
  • Writer/Editorto develop the ‘good stuff’ for your marketing material
  • Virtual Assistantto filter e-mail, manage your calendar, make travel arrangements, do type work, etc.
  • Bookkeeperto pay bills, invoice clients, make payments and provide financial reports.
  • Graphic Designerto create the graphics for new products and other marketing materials.
  • Customer Support Repto answer your clients’ unending stream of questions

Interestingly, not one of these assistants have to be full-time employees. They can all be independent contractors with their own clients working for a few hours a week or everyday of the week.

 

If your aim is to have a business that makes money whether you’re there or not, then you have to start devising a plan for delegation. The sooner the better!

 

How to Focus on What You Do Best and Maximize Your Impact

Does this sound familiar? You talk to your clients for 8 hours straight; yet when you have to write the ‘About Us’ section for your website, you’re at a loss for words? Or you devise excellent strategies for your business’s future, but when you have to capture the past month’s financial data you feel absolutely drained?

The Purpose of Delegation

“To enable you to focus on what you do best in order to maximize your impact“ Michael Hyatt, author and speaker on Intentional Leadership

There are certain jobs that you simply enjoy and excel in more than others. And some jobs that just tap your energy to no end. The truth is we all do certain things well and others things not so well. It’s like your grandma said, ”Jack of all trades, master of none.”

If you want to:

  • Be happier
  • Be more productive
  • Deliver quality work
  • Increase your impact

q1

Then you have to ensure you are doing those tasks that energize and excite you. This is called operating in your ‘strengths zone’.  When you function in your strength zone you will be more productive and deliver better quality work and consequently you will have maximum impact in your business, your community, the world…

Why delegate?

Delegation allows you to focus on what you’re good at and someone else to take care of the things you’re not so good at. It allows you to spend the majority of your time in your strength zone. In reality you are increasing your impact, by letting go, by letting others help you.

If you think about it, NOT delegating is NOT an option. It’s simply not sustainable! Our resources are finite. We don’t have unlimited time and unlimited energy and the sooner we embrace this fact and work around it, the better off we’ll be.

It is true that no-one can do your job as well as you do. I am confirming your suspicion! But, it’s like Action coach, Michael Andrews always says, “No-one can do your job as well as you do. But two people’s 80% is still better than your 100%.”