Laura Pennington, her passion is teaching you exactly how to fast track your freelancing career, skip over the trial-and-error stage that can last for years, and build a fulfilling lifestyle business as a freelancer.
In 2012, she went from part-time freelancing to a six-figure freelance writing business in just 18 months. Listen in as Laura answers all questions to do with hiring a virtual assistant and becoming one.
For some people, the idea of setting up their own business is a clear one. They will have an idea, they will have a plan, and they will have a bit of financial backing behind them. For other people, there is a distinct lack of all of these things. All they have is a desire to work for themselves and set up their own business.
The chances are that the first set of people will find their feet quickly, but does that mean that the second group of people have no chance? Not at all! If you have the passion and drive to succeed, then you will get there, you may just need a helping hand or two!
To help those who are short on ideas and short on cash, we have put together some of our top tips on how you can still set up your business and achieve your dream.
Find an idea that is likely to work
You may think that you have no idea on where to start, but if you sit down and make a list of some of the ways that you think you could make money, you are likely to find that you have plenty. If you want to take a serious approach to this stage of planning, why not create a spreadsheet comparing just how much each idea is likely to cost starting up, and how much money you could possibly make from it in the long run. That way you can see which idea is going to be worth your while following up on.
Focus on the can do not the can’t do
There are going to be aspects of setting up and running a business that you are going to struggle with, especially if you are new to the game. Rather than getting hung up on these, you should really think about the things that you are awesome at. Focus on those bits that you can do, and find yourself an expert in the things that you can’t do. In no time at all, you will have everything that you need in place.
Don’t be afraid to get yourself out there
Once you have set up those initial parts of your business, it is time to get promoting. This can be a really daunting part of getting yourself off the ground, especially if you still feel that you have a lot to learn. Social media is a great way to promote your brand, not only does it have a wide reach, but it is also free in most parts, meaning that you can get your name out there and gain some customers too.
So, there you have it. Just because you are not sure where to start with your business, that doesn’t mean that you have to give up on your dream. Some of the most successful businesses out there started from absolutely nothing, and we are sure that you can become another one of those success stories.
It can be hard when you run your own business, every turn you take, work just seems to follow you. Sometimes it can seem like an impossible task to take care of yourself, especially for parents who run a business.
Looking after yourself is beneficial not only for you and your family but also for your business because being healthy means you are more productive and happier.
Don’t believe us? Here are 7 top tips for a happier, healthier life.
1, Keep hydrated
Water makes up two thirds of our bodies and performs many functions including acting as a solvent, carrying nutrients, regulating temperature and detoxification. Maintaining a good level of hydration can also influence vitality, energy levels and mental alertness.
It’s vital that you have a healthy diet that contains lots of fruit and vegetables; you can eat healthily but still enjoy your favourite foods. Replace an afternoon sugary snack with something healthy such as fruits or nuts. For example, if you have pizza, consider a smaller one and add some salad on the side.
Get plenty of sunlight, vitamin D is produced in the skin and is associated with many benefits to the body such as improved immune function and studies have shown it reduces the risk of depression.
Shutting down the computer, turning off your mobile phone and TV early in the evening around the same time mentally prepares your mind and body for sleep. A good night’s sleep enhances your overall health. Professionals recommend 7-8 hours as the ideal requirement in order to stay healthy.
5, Take a Walk
It’s important to take some time out for exercise even with a busy schedule, it’s important to keep your body active, healthy and your mind sharp. In an interview we did with Sophie from Attentive Art she discusses how she implemented exercise into her busy routine you can listen to it here.
Another way to implement walking into your lifestyle may be that instead of doing the school run by car, take a walk there and back. Walking the dog is also an excellent way of implementing more exercise, instead of a slow walk; consider taking a brisk one as it will act as a mini workout.
When carrying out random acts of kindness make sure it’s coming from a genuine place, it could be a quick call or a text to someone you care about that you haven’t connected with for a while.
Just like smiling it changes our brain so that we feel happier. Aim for one or more random acts of kindness a day.
Showing appreciation, even for the small things gives you a good feeling. By showing gratitude daily you gain a new perspective on life, keep a journal where you can list things that you are thankful for. We recommend the Dailygreatness Journal: A Practical Guide for Consciously Creating Your Days. By listing things you’ll be surprised at how effective it is at creating a happy mindset.
Many small businesses often fail to realise the importance of customer service, yet customer service itself is one of the most important parts of any business. Here are 6 customer service tips that you can implement in your business right away.
1, Build trust
This is where the ‘know like and trust’ factor comes into play. In order for a customer to trust you, they would need to know you and like you or the products that you offer. I have had many conversations with friends in the past and they have recommended a company before I make a purchase I read up about the company and then look at reviews online and because the company has been recommended the building blocks of trust have been built. By providing the best customer service to every customer you will increase trust. Be certain that your passion for customer service is known throughout your company, and ensure your employees share your commitment to providing excellent customer service.
2, Brand awareness
When you provide excellent customer service, your customers will spread the word, thereby increasing your brand’s reputation. Excellent word of mouth is powerful for any business; customers who have good things to say about your brand will remember your brand and are therefore more likely to make repeat purchases. The goal is for your customer service to boost the value of your brand, it must, therefore, surpass the expectations of your customers.
Share your uniqueness, say why you are different from your competitors and embed videos onto your website homepage showing actual customers using or talking about your products and services. Join a platform that collects customer reviews, add personality to any advertising that you do for your business. Customers are fully equipped with mobile and social media tools so they can communicate quickly about your brand, good or bad. This means that establishing a strong reputation for good products or services is vital as it could make or break your business.
4, Customer complaints
There are too many competitors in the market for small business owners to handle customers complaints in a careless manner. Actively listen to the complaints that customers make, reassure them that you take the complaint seriously. If face to face pay attention to the tone of your voice, the language you use and body language. If possible offer a solution and remember to always follow up on a complaint to ensure it has been resolved and the customer is satisfied.
5, Customer journey
Promptly respond to all customer enquires addressing them by their name, personalise your exchange with them and avoid using set templates and always give your name. Make notes of the exchange and try and make it a duty for the same person to follow up. By putting the customer journey at the forefront and paying attention to detail whether it’s packaging, enquires, or a seamless transaction process. Create a customer journey map, the more you know about your customer the better the experience you can give them.
6, The bond
When you provide quality customer service, you create happy customers who not only use your company again but will also share their experiences. Loyalty programs, thank you cards, these little touches all create a bond. See the images below of examples I have received in the past.
Mike Domitrz married father of 4 boys, as a critically-acclaimed speaker, author, subject matter expert, and media resource, Mike Domitrz has been inspiring individuals with his passion and energy for over 2 decades.
Mike Domitrz is known for the impact his programs, trainings, and publications have made across the world for parents, teenagers, families, educational institutions, the US military, and the media. You may have seen him as the featured expert on Dateline NBC’s “My Kid Would Never Do That.”
While Mike became known for originally founding and growing The DATE SAFE Project (an organization focused on teaching Respect and Consent), his passion for wanting to learn more about mindfulness has become a driving force in his life.
Sophie Walker is a married mother of two children aged 4 and 6 years old. Sophie original lived in London, Croydon now lives in a small town near the beach in Yorkshire. In this Interview, Sophie talks about how she copied with postnatal depression and sleep deprivation and how this birthed her business, Attentive Art.
Attentive Art provides mindful creativity tools to help people to tune into what is really going on in their lives. It is a meditative art experience for people who don’t get on with conventional meditation. You don’t have to be creative or ‘good’ at art either. We currently have a range of art kits to music and a free eBook. There are more kits, courses, and workshops in the pipeline; all designed to help you to get back in touch with yourself while relaxing and having fun.
One of the biggest issues, when running your own business and managing a family, is making sure that you have the right balance between working and resting.
It can often seem that you want to spend the daylight hours making sure your business is a success, and the rest of the time focused on your family. But does this leave enough time to actually rest in between?
Many people are likely to say no. With such demands on their time already coming from work, and life, there is no time left for anything else.
We are here to say it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, you can achieve the perfect balance between working and resting, all it takes is some careful thought and planning.
Don’t believe us? Here are top tips for finding the perfect work/rest balance.
Know what you want out of all the aspects of your life
People really seem to underestimate goal setting, especially when it comes to their life goals. It makes sense to think about what you want to achieve in your career plans or business, but when did you last think about your family, your home, your personal life? You should treat these just like you would your job, and dedicate time and attention to making sure that you know exactly where you see your family heading in the future.
In doing this, you can plan in some me time. Perhaps to enjoy a spa day, or simply a nice long relaxing walk on a summers evening.
Try to minimise your stress
If you own your own business, then chances are that you are going to feel pretty stressed at times. It is important that this stress doesn’t filter too much over into the time you have to relax and unwind at the end of the day. Of course, stress is unavoidable, what is important is how you deal with it.
Try to tackle any problems head on, and never take them home with you. After all, your family don’t need to bear the brunt of your stress, and once the time has come to unwind, that should always be your priority.
Take a break
One of the things that people who are self-employed are guilty of is not taking holiday when they need to. This can be a huge mistake. You need to take a break away from working, just like you would if you were employed. Otherwise, your brain simply won’t turn off and relax when you need it to, and this won’t be a good idea.
It is possible to achieve a work/rest balance and balance working with your family. All it takes is some careful thought and some time to yourself, and you will have exactly what you need to make a success of both worlds.
Whilst working at home can be packed full of benefits, one of the biggest drawbacks is the feeling of loneliness that sometimes occur. Thankfully like many problems, being lonely is fixable.
So, if you are feeling a little alone, here are 5 ways that you can wave those feelings goodbye.
Pop the radio on
Sometimes all you need is a bit of background noise to help you to feel a little less lonely. The TV can be a bit too much of a distraction, but the radio, on the other hand, can help to curb those feelings of being completely alone.
Give someone a call or Skype
One of the biggest drawbacks to working at home is not having anyone to talk to. If this is definitely true for you, then why not make the effort to take to someone? You may not be able to get outside and meet someone face to face, but you can pick up your phone. You could even Skype or video call if you are really feeling lonely.
Go for a walk outside
Being cooped up in the house can be tricky, so, if you need to escape for a moment then consider getting outside and having a walk. Not only is it a change of scenery, but it will make sure that you feel instantly rejuvenated and ready to get back to the laptop and carry on working.
Sit somewhere that has plenty of light
The amount of light that is in a room can be a huge factor in how you feel. So, if you can, try to sit in a room that has plenty of natural light. You don’t want it to be too bright, otherwise, you could spend far too long squinting. But just enough to make sure that you absorb some vitamin D, as well as be able to see the outside world.
Work in a different environment
Changing up where you work from time to time can have a huge impact on your mood. Some people spend some of their time working from home, as well as working in a shared office space. Others may take their laptops and head to a local coffee shop. The trick is to find a way that you can still concentrate on the things that you need to do. But still, have the background noise of other people going about their lives.
Being lonely doesn’t feel great, especially if you are stuck at home working. The thing that is important to remember, is that it doesn’t have to be that way. There are things that you can do to minimise those feelings of loneliness and have yourself back in the real world in no time.
One of the biggest issues faced by those who run their own business is a lack of time. It will often feel like there are 100s of tasks that need to be done, and only a couple of hours to do them in.
You may think that you are alone, but a virtual assistant might just be the ideal solution to help you out. As the name suggests, a virtual assistant is someone who can give you remote assistance in a number of tasks.
But what tasks can a VA help with? Here are a list of 5 simple things that you can outsource their way.
Managing your email
Do you find yourself spending far too much time reading through the emails that you receive every day? Only find a few that actually need you to action them? A virtual assistant can really help you by rifling through all the emails that you receive on a daily basis and only highlight the ones that you need to respond to.
Are you a type of business that has customers booking in for appointments? Why not hand over managing this diary to a virtual assistant. They can make sure that your calendar is nice and full and that you can spend time actually working with your clients rather than simply booking in an appointment.
Do you have an extensive list of customers that you need to keep track of? Why not make sure that the management of your CRM software is taken on by a VA? They can take any new details and add them into the system, as well as make sure that details are up to date too.
Manage your social media
Social media is a useful tool for promoting your business and engaging with your customers. However, its often something that you will neglect if you don’t have the time. Why not assign this task to a VA, getting them to upload posts and communicate with your followers?
Answer simple support tickets
Have you heard of a system called ZenDesk? ZenDesk transforms email enquiries into tickets. These tickets can then be allocated to particular people to answer. You could ask your VA if they are happy to take on this task and ensure that the simpler tasks to answer are given to them. Saving you enough time to be able to answer the larger questions.
By delegating some of the admin tasks that you have to do in your business you may find that you have made yourself a little bit more time. This means that you can focus on other aspects of running your business, and make sure that you achieve the success that you want!
Confidence is important when running a business, after all, it will be all down to you to make sure that it is a success. Not sure that you have the right confidence that you need to give it a go? Well, then let us help you.
We have put together some of the best ways that you can improve your own levels of self-confidence, best of all, they are quite simple to do on a daily basis.
Wear a bright colour
Colour can really help you to feel great about yourself. Especially yellow, which is linked to calming energy and brightening up your mood. If you are heading to an important meeting or need to secure a new client, perhaps add a touch of this sunshine hue to your outfit and you will soon be feeling ready to face the world.
The way that you walk and hold yourself can really project your levels of confidence. Try not to slump, and instead walk tall. This means that you will feel an instant lift to your mood, and people will see that you mean business.
Learn something new
By this we don’t mean take a home learning course, but instead just task yourself to learning something every day. There are a number of trivia apps out there that you can use to add into your knowledge. They deliver great facts in bite size portions, which means that you won’t have to take too much time out of your day to broaden your knowledge.
Look at all the things that you have achieved
Sometimes it can seem like you are no closer to your goal, especially in those earlier days of business. If you are starting to feel that you may not ever get there, then why not take a look at the things that you have ticked off your list. This will not only show how far you have come, but also give you the motivation to keep carrying on towards your other goals.
Ask for some help
If you are feeling the pressure and have had a confidence knock. Maybe it is time to ask someone for their help. It may come from a friend or a family member, no matter who it is, all you may need is someone who will be able to give you a bit of a boost and get you back on the right path.
Even if you are feeling unsure of yourself, confidence is a great way to make sure that you feel ready to face the world. It doesn’t matter how you find it, believing in what you can achieve is going to bring you ever close to your goal.
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