April is stress awareness month. With most of us having just lived through the most stressful 12 months of our lives I imagine we’re all feeling the strain right now. As a VA my professional purpose is to reduce stress for my clients by taking on a myriad of tasks so that their day-to-day lives are easier. It’s not possible for everyone to hire a VA though so this month I’m sharing my main tips on how to reduce stress whether you’re a small business owner, corporate CEO or a swamped employee.
It’s National Grammar Day this week. It will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me well, or has ever worked with me, that I love grammar and all things language-related. I’d go so far as to say I’m a recovering grammar-obsessive. I’m one of those people who tuts when they pass the greengrocer’s sign advertising “potatoe’s” and winces when someone writes “I could of done that” on a Facebook post.
Now, I understand that language evolves and the world won’t end if we all end up saying ‘could of’ instead of ‘could have’ in 100 years’ time. Misspelling potatoes isn’t going to make a difference to how many vegetables that greengrocer sells.
But if you’re a small business owner producing documents for your clients and social media channels, how important is it that you proofread and check for good grammar?
Answer: it’s hugely important and here’s why.
As small business owners and sole traders we all wear many different hats. As CEO, Finance Director, Marketing Manager and Customer Service Lead we plan for growth, ensure our business is on a healthy financial footing, work on attracting new clients and ensure that our existing clients’ needs are recognised and met. And we put the Admin hat on to take care of the essential tasks needed to provide our business with structure and underpin everything the other departments do.
This all mounts up to a lot of work. And while a lot of small business owners will happily outsource to an accountant or social media manager, they can be a lot more resistant to hiring someone to take care of the admin.
“I must get more organised next year.” Needing to get more organised is a common theme among many small business owners and never more so than when we’re heading into a new year. The good intentions and resolutions that we make in January are the perfect context to start putting those systems and processes in place to make our businesses run more smoothly and efficiently. And there’s no better place to begin than your inbox.
It’s the first thing we look at in the morning and most of us dip in and out of our inbox throughout the day. An overfull, disorganised inbox can create feelings of overwhelm more quickly than almost any other area of a small business and the time wasted trying to find past emails is immense – you can waste up to half an hour each day re-reading old emails while trying to find the one you’re looking for.
Luckily there are some very simple, quick fixes that can help you to break your old email habits and create a beautiful, streamlined inbox (and get you back all that lost time).
You know you’re overwhelmed and struggling with the amount of admin on your plate. And you know you need to outsource some of it to a professional. But when you’re so busy it can be difficult to identify which admin tasks you should outsource. Plus, a lot of small business owners get used to doing everything themselves and get into the mindset of “I can do that, it only takes 5 minutes”.
The thing is, all those “just 5 minutes” add up to a lot of time in the long run. Leaving you with even less time to decide what you are going to outsource. Luckily for you I’ve come up with a quick guide to 20 easily outsourceable admin tasks that you could hand over to a virtual assistant tomorrow.
Adoption UK is a national charity supporting around 20,000 adoptive families each year through membership, community activities and groups, and other events. Founded in 1970 the charity employees around 100 staff, plus a large number of volunteers.
Moving from face-to-face to online
Following the national lockdown in March 2020 Adoption UK were forced to cancel their in-person community support groups. In April 2020 they hired Helen Leach VA Services to assist with moving their community support group services online. Rob Langley-Swain, Director of Membership, tells the story.
Many small business owners who struggle with their admin would love to get some outside help. Knowing where to start can be tricky though.
A question I’m often asked is: what kind of tasks can a VA help with?
The remit of individual tasks a VA can assist with is very broad but the types of work we take on essentially boil down to 3 things:
Following last week’s revised government guidance regarding Covid-19 restrictions the meetings and business events industry has been thrown into confusion again. We had been told that as of 1st October business events could resume, providing they stuck to social distancing guidelines and venues were made Covid-safe. The PM’s statement last week clarified what is and isn’t allowed with regards to social gatherings but his throwaway comment that “the spread of the virus is now affecting our ability to reopen business conferences, exhibitions and large sporting events” left many in the business events industry confused. It looks like we’ll just have to wait for further guidance on this one.
The rules around day-to-day working are clearer. We’re being encouraged to work from home where possible. After 6 months of working from home most of us are now familiar with Zoom, Teams and Google Meet. “You’re on mute Mark!” (it’s always Mark) has become a staple of most online meetings, and we’re resigned to staying on these platforms for the foreseeable future. But for some of us, including coaches and trainers, face-to-face meetings simply have to resume in order for their businesses to survive.
So how do we approach face-to-face meetings in a Covid-safe way?
“Always freakishly organised…”
Is how my sister chose to describe me when I asked her to write the copy for my wedding planning website back in 2011.
These days I support small business owners, coaches and not-for-profit organisations who are struggling with overwhelm and want someone to ease the workload. And I have to admit, I am rather organised. Which is a big key to why I do what I do.
Normally at this time of year I’d have written about how to manage the school holidays along with running a small business, but so many of us had to negotiate 4 months of home-schooling that the summer holidays didn’t seem to present the same challenge this year. In fact this looks like being the easiest 6-7 weeks of the parenting/work juggle that I’ve done in quite a while.
Our experiences since March of this year have all been different. Some business owners embraced lockdown, using it as an opportunity to take a look at marketing strategies and revamp existing processes and practices. Others have reacted to the new situation by realigning their offering – moving from face-to-face services to online. Some have been even busier than usual. A lot of us will have been concentrating purely on what absolutely needed to be done, keeping our business afloat and letting a lot of the little day-to-day things slide.
Hi, I'm Helen and welcome to my blog.
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