Category Archives: Tuesday Tips

Profile Photos: Best Face Forward

 

If You’re A Mystery, You Could Be History!

silhouette_question_markI spent some time recently on Twitter® and LinkedIn® looking at profiles of Virtual Assistants. Sometimes I’m approached about projects that I don’t have time in my schedule to do, or requirements that are outside my area of expertise. In these instances, it’s good to have a name or two I can give to a potential client, and feel confident that the people I recommend have the experience and professionalism to get the job done right.

Frankly, I was appalled at the number of people who have no profile photo. This doesn’t apply only to Virtual Assistants, either. I’ve seen lots of social media profiles with no photo.  Someone can have the best résumé in the universe, but I’ll never know. When all I see is a silhouette on LinkedIn or an egg on Twitter, I keep scrolling. I wonder how many potential clients do the same.

Put Your Best Face Forward

Your profile photo is the first thing people look at to determine whether or not they want to interact with you and your business. Whatever social media network you use, if you want your business to be taken seriously, a good profile photo is a must.

If you have held off uploading a profile photo because you weren’t sure whether a photo you have is the “right” one for you, Top Dog Social Media lists five elements of a social media profile picture.

1. The background should be clean and either monotone in color or blurred. You want people to see you, not be distracted by the background.

2. You should always present yourself at your best. Photos of you with other people are confusing and won’t show up well. Photos of you with your pet may work if your business is pet-related. Otherwise, it’s not a good idea. Don’t crop other people out of a photo and post it on your profile. It may look good to you, but you run the chance of having someone else’s shoulder or hair showing. Don’t use photos of anything other than yourself, especially on LinkedIn. A long time ago, I used a computer keyboard as my profile photo. In those days, when people were extremely wary of revealing themselves online, it worked. I wouldn’t count on it working today. Who wants to hire a computer keyboard?

3. Keep it to a nice head shot. Let people see your eyes. It’s amazing what people perceive from a photo — kindness, honesty, sense of humor, intelligence.

4. Wear bright colors. You don’t have to dress in a clown suit, but you don’t want to blend into the wall, either. Keep reading for some clothing tips below.

5. Smile! A genuine smile attracts people. Yes, you’re serious about your business, but you don’t have to frown or be stone-faced. Think of it as meeting a potential client in person for the first time. What do you do? You smile and shake hands.

Dress for Success

Whether your profile photo is a selfie, a snapshot taken by a friend, or a photo done in a studio by a professional photographer, how you dress is important. Here are some tips from Deutsch Photography:

  • Wear solid colors. Patterns and prints are too busy. Big buttons can be distracting.
  • Make sure your clothes are pressed and clean.
  • No white shirts if you are Caucasian or have very light skin.
  • No bright red clothing. If you have fair skin and blue eyes, blue, pink, or gray work.  Browns, greens and oranges work well for people with green eyes. If you have medium or dark skin and brown eyes, most colors will work, but don’t wear clothes that match your skin too closely. Contrast is key.

You are Beautiful!

If you haven’t put up a profile photo on all your social media networks because you don’t think you’re photogenic, I understand. There are many of us who feel that way. If you can’t seem to get a photo you like well enough to share with the world, do some research on photographers in your area, and have a professional head shot done. They will bring out the best in you! Don’t believe me? Read this, from a professional photographer. Everyone is Photogenic.

Twitter_egg_who_are_you

 

 

No more silhouettes or eggs, OK?

 

 

 

Until later …

Toni

How to Know Which Tasks to Delegate

task list

Photo by stockimages

“The inability to delegate is one of the biggest problems I see with managers at all levels.” Eli Broad

Have you reached a point in your business where you know you need help, but you can’t think of what you can hand off to someone else?

Here’s a quick way to find out what you should and should not delegate

Grab a piece of paper and a pen. Draw two lines down the page so you have three columns. Label them “Daily” “Weekly” and “Monthly.” Now answer these seven questions.

  1. What tasks do I do daily, weekly, and monthly?
  2. What needs to get done but is not getting done?
  3. Can someone help with any of these tasks if you explain to them what you need done?
  4. What parts of your business are things that only you can do?
  5. What tasks are things that you love to do and don’t want to give up?
  6. What tasks are things you hate doing? (Are you putting them off?)
  7. Who suffers if I continue trying to do everything myself?

“No person will make a great business who wants to do it all himself ….” Andrew Carnegie

Now that you have identified what can be delegated, don’t hesitate. Start your search today for a virtual assistant that will be a perfect fit for the tasks you have chosen to delegate.

If you need help with that process, let me know and I’ll provide some resources to help you get started.

Until later …

Toni

Do You Need A Virtual Assistant? 5 Clues

need virtual assistant

Photo by David Castillo Dominici

In some cases I’ve seen, by the time a solo business owner or entrepreneur gets around to finding a virtual assistant, they have built up quite a backlog of tasks they simply didn’t have time to do.

Molly Baker of Sound Administrative Solutions came up with a good list of “5 Signs You Need an Administrative Consultant,” (Virtual Assistant).

  1. You want your business to grow, but you have no time left in your day to work toward that growth.
  2. Personal stress and anxiety – this can manifest itself on your mood (lack of motivation, irritability), your behavior (over or under eating, angry outbursts) or your body (headache, sleep problems).
  3. Missed opportunities – are you so busy with the day-to-day obligations that you don’t have any time for long-term planning, networking, etc.?
  4. You are neglecting certain aspects of your business. Are you forgetting or running out of time to return phone calls or emails? Doing things poorly because you’re so rushed for time? Missing deadlines?
  5. You are struggling with tasks that you aren’t very good at. In this case, it would be well worth your money to pay an Administrative Consultant who is a pro at the admin things you hate, freeing up your time to focus on aspects of your business that actually make you money.

Do any of these resonate with you?

If somewhere in the back of your mind, you think a virtual assistant can’t really save you time and money, check out this first-hand account of an entrepreneur who agreed to try a virtual assistant for a week.

Are you ready now? Contact me (or Molly) today for more information, and have a more productive tomorrow.

Until later …

Toni

 

Tuesday Quick Tip – Navigating Word 2013

navigating-frustration

Photo: FreeDigitalPhotos.net and stockimages

 

 

If you’ve been using Microsoft®  Office Word 2003 for a long time, and recently upgraded to Office Word 2013, you may find yourself befuddled at all the new changes. I certainly was. Navigating the new menus was a challenge.

One thing I found helpful was this little chart in the Word 2013 Quick Start Guide. The one below is an overview of where to find different commands. The entire guide has lots more tips. You can read the guide online, or download it as a PDF.

word2013-navigationIf you’re a busy entrepreneur or small business executive who doesn’t have time or patience to deal with the learning curve, these guides from Microsoft® are a big help.

Another big help is a virtual assistant who already knows Word 2013 and can do the navigating for you.  Think of the time and frustration you’ll save!

Until later …

Toni

How to Vet a Virtual Assistant Candidate

telephone_interview

U.S. Navy photo on Flickr

For a small business, especially a home-based business, there are many advantages to using the services of a virtual assistant. If you’re not familiar with them, go here. However, many people are hesitant to hire someone they have never met in person, much less trust them with confidential information. It’s a perfectly normal, understandable fear. Let’s explore some ways to mitigate the trust issues.

1. Before you start your search for a V.A., make a detailed list of the tasks you want performed. Write it down so you don’t forget anything when you prepare your job listing or interview. This way you will know exactly what you’re looking for as you review V.A. profiles, résumés or websites. Pay attention to the skill-sets the candidates offer.

2. Do your interviews by telephone or Skype. You will learn a lot about the person by hearing their voice, and have the reassurance you’re dealing with a real human being.

3. Ask a lot of questions, and let them ask you questions. Good communication is absolutely essential in a virtual work relationship, so establishing this connection early on is vital. Here are a few questions to get you started:

  • How long have you worked as a Virtual Assistant?
  • What’s your background and experience?
  • What software programs do you like to use and are good at?
  • What tasks do you dislike the most? (Example: If you need someone to make or receive a lot of calls, and the person doesn’t like talking on the phone a lot, move to the next candidate.)
  • How do you track time you spend on client work?
  • What is your preferred communication method?
  • How quickly do you usually respond to emails during your working hours?
  • What security measures do you have in place to protect client documents?
  • Are you available during the hours I need you to be, and in my time zone?
  • You have a deadline when your computer suddenly crashed. What would you do?

4. Ask for references, and check them.

5. If you’re still nervous about giving out passwords or credit card information that the assistant would need to perform the work, perhaps you could set up a trial period where the V.A. did other types of work for you to develop a working relationship and trust. If that works out, and you still can’t let go of sensitive information, a virtual assistant probably isn’t the best choice for you.

6. Remember that no virtual assistant can do everything, but an experienced V.A. usually networks enough with other V.A.s to help you find someone who can tackle a job s(he) isn’t experienced enough to do. Since you only pay for the time a V.A. is working, it still can be cost effective to have more than one V.A.

7. There are virtual assistant staffing agencies that screen, and sometimes train, V.A.s.  The keywords “virtual assistant staffing” in a web search will bring up a big list of them.

Once you find a virtual assistant with the skills, work ethic and personality you’re looking for, everything will click, and the trust issues will disappear.

Until next time …

Toni

 

Zen and the Art of Keeping Your Desk Clean

Clean Desk

Photo by Sean Hobson (seantoyer) on Flickr.com

I’ve been told that some people function just fine with clutter everywhere because they remember where everything is. If someone comes in and straightens up the mess, they’re lost. If you’re one of those people, carry on.

If you’re like me, though, a cluttered desk can make it difficult to focus on my work. Not being able to locate needed paperwork, especially if I’m on the phone and need it for reference, can mess with my head. Life is distracting enough without that.

Here are some tips I’ve incorporated into my routine that make my workday less stressful.

  • Two file boxes/baskets. Some people label them “In” and “Out.” I call mine “Do It” and “File It.” If at all possible, I like to end my day with an empty “Do It” box.
  • Touch a paper document no more than three times: once when you receive it, once when you take action on it, and once when you file it. When opening mail, my routine goes like this: If it’s junk mail, straight to the trash can. If it’s actionable, straight to the “Do It” box. If it just needs to be filed, I file it immediately if at all possible. If not, it goes in the “File It” box. Every few days, I take a few minutes to clean out the box and neatly tuck papers into their respective file folders.
  • When you file paperwork, put the most recent on top, not at the back of the file folder. You’ll be glad you did when you need it quickly.
  • Have a file cabinet and filing system that works for you. There are so many office filing and storage possibilities these days, it’s mind boggling. So if your current organization system isn’t working, visit an office supply store and take a look. There’s something for everyone. You also can visit Pinterest to look for unique storage ideas.
  • If you have a desk drawer, use a drawer organizer. When you’re in a hurry and reach for a pen, you don’t need the stress of untangling it from rubber bands or digging through a stack of clutter.
  • Purge your files at least once a year. There are always some documents, catalogs, competitor price lists and the like that are out of date or no longer needed. Shred anything with personal identifiable information on it, and toss the rest. Keep in mind there are some things you should NOT get rid of. Read  “How Long Should You Keep Business Records” from NOLO.com for more information.

For more organization tips, check out the National Association of Professional Organizers.

What does Zen have to do with this, you ask? According to the Urban Dictionary, “One way to think of zen is this: a total state of focus that incorporates a total togetherness of body and mind. Zen is a way of being.”

A total state of focus. Total togetherness. No clutter. I like that!

Until next time …

Toni

 

 

Tuesday Tips: Bookkeeping from the Get-Go

Messy DeskStarting a new business is exciting! You’ve made the big decision to get out there and be your own boss, and decided what kind of business you’re going to have. There are so many things to do, and so many things to acquire in order to get your business going. It’s easy to focus on getting everything ready to open the doors, as you rush around buying supplies, equipment and inventory. A month goes by, then two.

You notice that your desk, kitchen table, counter top, and car are cluttered with receipts from things you’ve bought. Perhaps you gather them all up and put them in a drawer to go through later. More months go by, and the drawer is getting stuffed.

Finally you decide it’s time to hire a bookkeeper and/or accountant to set up your books, or maybe you buy software so you can do it yourself. That’s good!

So you get down to it, and reality sets in. You pick up a receipt that has some obscure description on it. You can’t tell what the heck it is, but the amount is high enough that you really need to know. Welcome to Bookkeeping Hell.

As a bookkeeper for some years, I can attest to the agony of trying to track expenses for people who bring in shoe boxes full of crinkled, coffee-stained, almost unreadable receipts. I would enter everything I could, but there were always some that neither I nor the business owner could decipher. That’s a tax deduction he didn’t get to take. “What about your mileage?” I ask. “I didn’t keep track of it,” he replied.

So here’s today’s Tuesday Tip:

  • Get a receipt for every purchase. Little things add up.
  • Before you call it a day, each day, take a few minutes and gather up all receipts from that day. If you can’t read the date or the item description, write it on the receipt. Make it a habit.
  • Get a mileage log book from office supply store, or make your own in a small spiral notebook, with hand-drawn columns labeled “Date” “Destination” “Start” and “End.” Keep it in your console or on the passenger seat. Before you start the car, enter the date, destination and start mileage. When you get back to your home or office, before you get out of the car, enter the “end” mileage. Make it a habit because it’s money in your pocket. All business trip miles are tax deductible.
  • Keep ALL receipts. If you buy something that allows you to get a rebate if you mail in the original receipt, make a copy before you mail it.

If you do these four things consistently, you will be rewarded at the end of the year with a pile of tax deductions, and your bookkeeper will LOVE YOU!

If you decide that doing your own bookkeeping takes too much time, don’t hesitate to hire a bookkeeper or virtual assistant with bookkeeping experience. That expense is deductible, too, and is well worth it.

Until next time …
Toni