The 12 days of Christmas – How to prepare for a holiday

The 12 days of Christmas – How to prepare for a holiday

Oh yes, the holiday, an enemy for some entrepreneurs, but one that is essential to have when running a business to help your mind and body take some much needed R&R.

How can you prepare for a holiday, to make sure your stress levels aren’t sky-high while away, that you need a holiday to make up for the stress of a holiday?

Here are my tips as a virtual assistant, that I have learned for myself or from clients I help. I hope you find them useful, and perhaps share some of your preparation with us too, in the comments!

  1. It’s all about the notifications! Let your clients know that you will be away, and how they can contact you in case of an emergency. What I have found is, when I share this emergency contact information, most clients really don’t need it, and never use it, but having it is a good way to put them (and yourself!) at ease.
  2. Add an extra day onto the arrival date, so you have enough time to go through your inbox, and to recover from the jet lag. If you are having a long-haul flight, this is an essential, so you can recuperate and have some rest after the flight. Even if you aren’t flying anywhere, you will need some time to unpack, get everything in order, and clear out your inbox (especially if you don’t have someone like a VA managing it for you while you are away). Give yourself this extra time, I promise you it will be truly helpful to your sanity.
  3. Do not find a hotel with Wi-Fi, unless it’s a working holiday. You will just get tempted to check your emails and continue to work, making it…surprise…not a blooming holiday! All too often do I have clients ask me to manage their email inbox, and I spot them replying and checking in – why ask someone to care for your emails for you, when you are going to cheekily check them yourself? It also means that those who are with you will potentially get a little miffed, if you are spending a few hours each day replying to messages!
  4. Turn off your phone, even if it’s only for the excursions. Take that time to be truly free from notifications and disruptions, so you can enjoy your holiday. If your only means of photographing the holiday are your phone, turn it onto Do Not Disturb, so you don’t get any calls or interruptions while you take in the sites, and enjoy the time with your friends and/or family.
  5. Take a notebook with you, for ideas that pop into your mind. I often find my best ideas for my business are during my downtime, so I personally take a notebook with me for when I have these ideas, so I don’t forget them. If you are similar to me in that respect, why not take a special “holiday ideas” notepad with you. It’s a great reason to go to your favourite stationary store and treat yourself! (Am I the only one who loves stationary shops?!)

BONUS TIP – actually take some holidays. Coming from someone who has had a few years without a holiday, prior to realising the necessity for time off, I can attest to how helpful they are for productivity and inspiration. We can get stuck in our own day-to-day lives as entrepreneurs, and it can make us feel low, and demotivated. Start with a long weekend away, to see how that feels, then you can upgrade to a few days off in the week.

How do you prepare for a holiday? I’d love to hear!

How to share tasks with others, without feeling a loss of control

How to share tasks with others, without feeling a loss of control

I know, you are a business owner and you believe it’s so much more darn easy to do all of the tasks yourself.

I’ve been there too, I’ve sat in your shoes, when there are clients mounting up, and you would love to say yes to them, but a niggling monkey on your shoulder is telling you you may just not have the time to help. As a business owner, you may even believe you have to do all of the tasks yourself, as it feels like you’re meant to take on all of them to showcase that you’re even more awesome as an entrepreneur. (more…)

How to build my team – the questions to ask

How to build my team – the questions to ask

Starting your own business is a tough decision to make, for most it is a leap they have always pondered before, but perhaps were concerned about the security of it all.

Once taking the leap, you will potentially realise how blooming personal it truly is. I’ve heard the saying “It’s just business, it’s not personal” said so many times, however, when it is your own business, your own job or the service you provide to others, it truly is personal. I think having the personal touch is the defining feature of running a business that people buy into. If you don’t have that personal touch, the edge that makes you different from the thousands of competitors out there, then why would someone choose you, other than looking at the cost? (and don’t get me started on how cost should not be the be-all and end-all for a contact to turn into a client!). (more…)

Let go to grow – a key to success for the entrepreneur

Let go to grow – a key to success for the entrepreneur

You built it from nothing; you’ve sweated, toiled, shouted, questioned, persuaded, co-operated and worked until you dropped to make it happen and now you’re at breaking point. If you know this feeling, you’re probably an entrepreneur and you’re most likely completing tasks in the business that are not a good investment of your time. You need to let go to grow.

You need to trust someone with your ‘baby’ and it hurts! No wonder you resist; the key thing is to know when the time has come, when you’ve reached the point that you’ll be damaging not building your business if you refuse to release control. As entrepreneurs ourselves, we’ve been there and we understand how challenging it can be to take that first step.   Here are our top tips on how you can take your business up a level, when you let go to grow:

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  • Review what you spend your time on. For a week, keep a strict timesheet (there is no point if you don’t do this properly) and include details on what you’ve done and who it was for. Include a column that says ‘Invoiceable?’ and put yes or no and if it is something you can invoice, put details of how much and who to. At the end of the week, look at how many hours you’re spending on work you cannot charge anyone for.
  • ) Start with small steps. We are not suggesting you hand-over the reigns to any part of your business; this is about acknowledging what you’re doing that someone else can do in less time and to a higher standard than you can. A great place to start is with administrative tasks such as follow-up appointment making post-networking events, responding to email requests for information such as on-line brochures or even taking on the management of one of your social network profiles.
  • Give it time to work before you go back to old habits. We’ve often heard entrepreneurs in our own networks talk about bad past experiences; it’s interesting how much time we give ourselves to achieve our goals, yet we expect others to have instant impact on our results. Before deciding you were right all along and nobody can look after any aspect of your baby like you do, allow a realistic timescale such as three months, and make sure you keep giving feedback to allow the best possible chance of getting what you want and need.
  • Use the free time for business growth. There is little point in delegating aspects of your business to another, only to spend the newly available time on non-growth-related tasks. Review what you could do with this time by being honest about what created most new business for you in the last twelve months. Then do more of it.
  • Keep monitoring your results and celebrate the increased business. Once you review what an impact delegating can have on your business, you’ll find it can become liberating. You’ll be building trust with the person or people helping you and now is a good time to ask yourself if there is more you can give them and what you could do as a result. And if you’re not getting the results you’d hoped, look at what needs to change before you decide it’s not right for you and go back to doing it yourself.

We’ve been lucky enough to work with some of our entrepreneurial clients for several years and each year we find we’re a little more involved with the business and helping free-up time for our clients to do more of what they love; the thing they actually went into business to do.

Clients tell us they’ve discovered that having people to delegate to who are not directly involved in the business is a great advantage as an entrepreneur. They become a sounding board, someone they can trust ideas with, share challenges and fears and successes with too. The working life of an entrepreneur is often an isolated one, and this aspect alone, is a huge benefit you’ll experience when you let go to grow.

We’d love to know if you’ve let go to grow and how it’s helped you as an entrepreneur; what top tips would you share?

Simple Inspiration Fundamentals

Simple Inspiration Fundamentals

As a business owner it can be tough to remain inspired about your business, whether it’s because you have become what is called the “Technician”, AKA doing all the tasks for clients, rather than managing the business, or you just feel you are trucking along in your business, not really doing what you love any more.  (more…)

How can I offer more to my clients, without stopping doing what I love or over-exerting myself?

As a business owner you may have started your business saying “yes” to every project available, learning while you go and possibly spending a lot of time doing things you weren’t really in the business for.

This happens across all industries, don’t worry, you are not alone!

However, how can you start to either wean off of these services or, if more clients continue to ask for these offerings, how can you add them to your service without having to spend time on them? (more…)