Tag Archives: entrepreneur

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

 

Female Entrepreneurship – One Size Doesn’t Fit All

female-entrepreneurship

Photo: Flickr

 

A recent study (PDF) by Jennifer Merluzzi, Tulane University, A.B. Freeman School of Business and Ronald S. Burt, University of Chicago, Booth School of Business tried to determine why women choose to be entrepreneurs. They wanted to know what paths women took to get there. They found three:

 

  • Full-time entrepreneurs who remain entrepreneurs after first entry
  • Full-time entrepreneurs who left to be an employee, then returned to full-time entrepreneurship
  • Women who continued in a full-time job as an employee while pursuing their ventures.

They also studied the reasons women gave for pursuing entrepreneurship versus a corporate career, and compared the relative happiness of female entrepreneurs to women who held management positions in corporations.

Why do women become entrepreneurs?

They found that “while exceptions exist, a more common conclusion is that female entrepreneurship has either become the newest way for women to escape workplace discrimination or, that women are largely selecting into an entrepreneurship career path as a way to achieve work-life balance and flexibility.”

Average age and income

They asked female entrepreneurs their ages as well as their income and found: “On average, the women were 34.2 years old when they began their first entrepreneurial activity, and in their best year employed 6.7 full-time people including themselves with a gross income of $322,000. The negligible test statistics show that activities vary as much within, as between, the six business categories. There are within each category women who had dramatically successful ventures of many employees and a large income, and women whose best year was negligible.”

“More often, the ventures involved no more than the entrepreneur (61% “just self”), but these independents varied in gross income during their best year from some losing money, to one woman earning $500,000. Employees are no guarantee of income. Entrepreneurs with employees other than themselves had from two to 600 full-time employees, and earned from $2,000 to $14 million of gross income during their best year.”

Types of businesses

They found that “almost all of the entrepreneurial activities are services. The manufacturing ventures are varied, including a Massachusetts company that produces golf apparel (Avid Diva), a printing business in Ohio (Print All), a vineyard in Virginia (Abingdom Vineyard &Winery), a gourmet pet-food company in Illinois (Thompson’s Pet Pasta), and a confectioner in California (Robin Rose Ice Cream & Chocolate). Variation notwithstanding, rarity is the most conspicuous feature of the manufacturing. Of the 213 involved in entrepreneurship, only eight are in manufacturing.”

“Entrepreneurs came from all industries, but there are concentrations from management consulting, other consulting (especially accounting), and education.”

female-entrepreneur-activities

Does being married, having children, or getting a divorce make a difference in choosing entrepreneurship? Not necessarily, but it can. The study revealed that “Over the course of their lives, entrepreneurs and non-entrepreneurs are equally likely to be married, have children, get divorced, or re-marry. However, as a woman goes through one of these events, the odds of her becoming an entrepreneur go up.”

What about the trade-offs?

“With respect to trade-offs made for success, senior managers felt that they had given up
personal time, a balanced life, and meaningful relationships. These are all at the bottom of the
list for entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurial work is inherently personal time and meaningful
relationships are the substance of their work, at the top of the entrepreneur’s list of what it
means to be successful.”

“What bothers entrepreneurs is the stress of their work: entrepreneurial work is fulfilling, but stressful. Entrepreneurs cite happiness and emotional calm as the things they trade for success, which is interesting because they report the highest levels of satisfaction with their work.”

personal-values-entrepreneurship-vs-corporate-managerOne thing is clear. While this studies’ focus was the path women took to entrepreneurship, it also revealed how far women have come since the days when women entrepreneurs had few choices. “Avon® Calling” was just the beginning.

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

Need an Extra Hour? I’ll Give You One!

hour

Let Go and Grow!

I keep seeing comments on the Internet about entrepreneurs and solopreneurs who are hesitant to try a virtual assistant. I don’t blame them. When you work hard to build a business, it’s difficult to hand over a door key, even a virtual one, to someone you don’t know.

According to this blog post, (go ahead and read it … I’ll wait), the main three reasons for not contracting with a virtual assistant are:

  1. They feared their Virtual Assistant wouldn’t understand their client’s needs
  2. They felt since their Virtual Assistant didn’t have a vested interest in their business they wouldn’t treat their client’s as they were themselves; and
  3. They feared that there was too much for the Virtual Assistant to learn and it was faster to just do it themselves.

Before making the decision to provide administrative support from my home office, I worked for many years in brick-and-mortar offices, for companies large and small. Some key truths I learned over the years are:

1. Every business is unique, and it takes a little time to fully understand the needs of each person I worked for. Communication is the key to coming to this understanding quickly.

2. My philosophy was and still is: If I make YOU and your company look good, I look good, and that makes both of us feel good.

3. There is a learning curve in all new jobs, just as there is a learning curve when you get a new smartphone or upgrade the operating system on your laptop. Again, it takes a little time and good communication. Time and good communication are important whether your assistant is working from home or sitting right next to you in the office.

4. Once you and your assistant get more comfortable with one another, you will see how a virtual assistant truly is a part of your team of trusted associates.

To help you “test the waters,” I’m offering a “Let Go and Grow” special. It gives you an opportunity to work with a seasoned professional at a great price and get one hour FREE.

Just click on this link and fill out the form to get started: Let Go and Grow.

Until later …

Toni

 

Necessity. Invention. Hipwhaties?

wednesday-women-awardHipknoties®  – that’s “hipwhaties!”  I mean, what’s a woman going to do when she’s going away for a three-week trip where she has to dress for all kinds of situations, from casual to evening dress, and all she has is one carry-on?

The old saying, “Necessity is the mother of invention” has been attributed to Aesop and Plato. I doubt Sarah Yonover was thinking of either of those guys when she was faced with the above packing dilemma, but she certainly put the saying into practice, in a creative and, well, HIP, way!

Starting with an infinity scarf, she invented a multitude of ways to turn a length of fabric into myriad styles of garments. It was such a hit with people, Sarah returned home to start her own company, Hipknoties®.

Watch the magic here, and you’ll understand why Sarah Yonover is our Wednesday Woman this week!

Have you ever had a unique idea but never followed through with it, then later learned someone else had turned “your” idea into a successful product? Let me know in the comments.

Until later …

Toni

Meet and Eat? Boring. Meet and Treat Your Feet!

Pedicure

The entrepreneur mind knows no bounds. When Ruth Shelling, founder of Rue Sinclair Media in New York, wants to meet to talk business with women, she doesn’t just invite them to lunch. She arranges brainstorming sessions at a nail salon, where women enjoy getting their feet pampered while they network. According to Entrepreneur.com, these sessions have helped her close multi-million dollar deals.

Ladies, I don’t know about you, but I think this is a great idea! I can see this being done by all kinds of women’s groups, not just businesswomen.

Nail salon owners could add value to their businesses by partnering with a deli to offer private “Eat and Treat Your Feet” sessions for women on their lunch hour. Think this is a viable idea? Let me know in the comments.

Ruth Shelling, you get my Wednesday Woman Award this week!

Until next time …

Toni

10 Success Tips from Billionaire Business Women

Every entrepreneur knows that starting a business is risky, yet they do it anyway. Some have a head start because they don’t have to worry about financing. Others only have a dream, a unique vision, a passion they feel they must pursue, and figure out as they go how to get financing. Some choose to start their own business because they want to be their own boss.  Others do it because they perceive a need that no one else has filled. Whatever the reason, let’s get inspired by those who have succeeded.

These ten women have succeeded, at least financially, beyond most of our wildest dreams. Not all of them started out poor, but a few did. Some of them started with wealth they got through marriage or inheritance. But all worked hard to achieve success. Here are their keys to success, according to this article in Refinery 29.

Sheryl_Sandberg_COO_Facebook

Photo via en.wikipedia.org

 

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook. – Always look ahead. The more women reach higher positions within companies, the more women will create workplaces that allow females to care to all facets of their life.

 

 

 

Salma-Hayek-Actress

Photo via en.wikipedia.org

 

Salma Hayek, actress and founder of film production company Ventanarosa.  – Persevere. Salma claims she wasn’t taken seriously at first and underestimated, but says, “you stick around long enough, act out of conviction, and try to be honorable in everything you do, [and] good things will come to you. I have seen karma work in this business.”

 

 

 

 

ZARA clothing store

Photo via gi.wikipedia.org

Rosalia Mera, co-founder of clothing company Zara, who said  dropping out of school to become a seamstress at age 11 was the smartest thing she’s ever done. After Rosalia began making gowns and garments in the living room she shared with former husband, Amancio Ortega, the two went on to co-found clothing parent company, Inditex, which eventually resulted in the formation of Zara. Do whatever you can yourself. Sometimes it’s best to tackle things on your own, no matter how difficult they may seem.

 

Miuccia-Prada

Photo via Cory M. Grenier on Flickr

Miuccia Prada, head designer at Prada and Miu Miu:Respect one another and always innovate. With Bertelli known for being a fiery boss and indefatigable leader, the entirety of Prada’s success rests in the intense relationship between the couple. One reason it works so well is their shared bottom line: making a product that both pushes fashion forward and actually sells.

 

 

Laurene_Powell_Jobs

Photo via en.wikipedia.org

Laurene Powell Jobs, co-founder and president of the Board of College Track,  a nonprofit based in San Francisco that aims to increase the number of high school graduates and college attendees from low-income families. Be the change you wish to see in the world. Laurene’s philanthropic efforts change the lives of others every single day, but it’s not without the investment of a lot of hard work and a ton of time.

 

 

 

 

Sara_Blakely

Photo by by Stuart Isett/Fortune Most Powerful Women, Flickr

Sara Blakely, founder and inventor of Spanx. –  Don’t be afraid to fail, and maybe, don’t ask for that second opinion. It took Sara two years to get her initial prototype ready for sale after dreaming up the idea. By not telling her family and friends about Spanx for a full year, she didn’t have to address their concerns and doubts, and never had to spend time defending her idea until it was already on its way.

 

 

The Gap store

Photo via en.wikipedia.org

 

 

Doris Fisher, co-founder of The Gap. – Speak your mind. The store never would have been called “The Gap” if Doris hadn’t pointed out the generational shift in the neighborhood, and that it should be reflected in the brand’s name.

 

 

 

 

Melinda_Gates

Photo via en. wikipedia.org

Melinda Gates, co-chair of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. –  Give Back. Melinda has made it her life’s work to help others in need and look for solutions to help others in the future.

 

 

 

 

 

Stark_Handbags

Photo: Pinterest.com via sipwithsociaites.com

 

 

Petra Ecclestone, heiress, model, and founder of Stark, her line of luxe handbags. – “Get as much experience as possible.” Hard work always wins.

 

 

 

 

 

 

United_Colors_of_Benetton

Photo via fotopedia.com

Giuliana Benetton, co-founder of United Colors of Benetton got her start in a small town in Italy by hand-knitting sweaters that her brother Luciano would sell by bicycle. Make your passion your life-long passion. All four siblings still serve as members of the board of directors of Benetton Group, nearly 50 years after its formation.

 

 

Until next time …

Toni

Smash the Imposter Syndrome!

imposter

Photo by Frank Kovalchek on Flickr

Do you ever feel like an imposter? There have been times when I have, even when I knew I was capable and knowledgeable.

I recently discovered the uplifting, inspiring website for women entrepreneurs, She Takes on the World by Natalie MacNeil. Natalie is an entrepreneur, author, teacher and speaker. Her website has been listed by Forbes on their “Top 10 Websites for Entrepreneurial Women.”

If you’ve ever held back from going after a fabulous job or starting the business of your dreams because you feared people would find out you’re not as great as you seem, you’re not alone! Watch this.

The Imposter Syndrome and Women Entrepreneurs

Let’s all smash the Imposter Syndrome and get on with being successful, shall we?

Until next time …
Toni

Target Your Market. Market Your Target.

Target Marketing

Photo via Wikipedia

I think it’s safe to say that most of us who are launching a new business or service usually operate on a tight budget, and need to start bringing in revenue as quickly as possible. It’s important to understand who is most likely to be a paying customer and direct our marketing efforts and dollars toward attracting that customer.

Here are some tips designed to help you market your product/service effectively.

  • Define your market segment. Will your initial focus be on your local geographic area, or on a particular type of customer? In some cases, it could be both. Obviously, a dog groomer will want to focus on dog owners who also are in their geographic area. If you’re selling the latest fantastic widget, will it appeal to the world on the Internet, or to specific people, like tourists, or senior citizens? Once you have honed in on the most specific target area and/or customer, then you can decide what approach to take in marketing.
  • Narrow your focus. Avoid the scatter-shot approach with your products or services. Keep your product line narrow and specialized. If you’re the only business in town selling “X,” everyone who wants an “X” has to come to you. The same rule applies to services. Don’t try to be all things to all people. A high-quality service or small service package will do better in the long run than a broad range of services that don’t provide the return on investment (ROI) you need to survive.
  • Define your prices. Depending on what you’re offering, a lower price can mean higher volume, but how will it affect your bottom line? On the flip side, a higher price may mean fewer customers, but a high quality product or service will keep those customers coming back and result in high quality referrals. For virtual assistants, pricing can be tricky, especially when one is competing globally with people who are willing to work for as low as $1.00 an hour. Additionally, fees for similar services vary widely across the U.S. Therefore, it’s important to understand what a fair price is, both for the customer and for the business owner who needs to keep a roof over her head.
  • Promote your business. Unless people know you’re out there, what’s the point of being in business? No longer do we have to spend a small fortune to advertise. If your business is local, networking in the community is vital. Join a service club, volunteer, find networking events in your area, attend charity dinners where you can meet new people, or, if you live in a small town, drop in at shops and introduce yourself. Follow local businesses on Facebook and comment on their pages. If your market isn’t confined to a geographic area, social media marketing is key. Get active on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and all the others where people gather. Devote some time every day to interacting with people online so you can build a community of like-minded people and potential clients.

Have you found the marketing approaches that work best for you? If so, I’d love for you to share them in the comments.

Until next time …

Toni

 

Thursday Thoughts: Overcoming Obstacles

Brick Wall

The brick wall

“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” — Henry Ford

Do you ever have days when everything seems to go wrong? I have. It’s especially discouraging when I’ve made a plan for the day, I’m all psyched for it, I get up early, dress for success, feel great, and then everything seems to turn to muck. Car trouble. Bad news in a phone call. Computer crash. Turned down for a loan. Trip and twist an ankle. The shipment is delayed. Life sometimes throws us curve balls that we’re not prepared to catch. Sometimes they hit us upside the head.

Obstacles can be so discouraging sometimes that you want to give up, especially when you’re pursuing your entrepreneurial dream that everyone else said would never work anyway.

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve received was the Serenity Prayer, because it taught me to think about three things when obstacles arise.

1. Is it a problem I can do something about? If it is, then I need to take steps to solve it, starting right now. If I procrastinate, feel sorry for myself, or start throwing blame around, it only delays the solution. Even if the obstacle seems insurmountable, if I can think of a solution, I can take one little step at a time to chip away at it. Patience and perseverance.

2. Is it a problem I cannot do anything about? I cannot bend every circumstance to fit my will. I cannot change other people. I can only change myself, my perspective, my attitude. This is when creativity and a sense of humor are important. I know what my goal is, but the road I mapped out just got washed out. I have to look for a different route. Be the GPS voice: “Recalculating.” Again, patience is important while I regroup.

3. Wisdom to know the difference.  This is the hardest part sometimes. It helps to bounce ideas off people who support you or who have encountered similar obstacles. If you keep your eye on the goal, the answer will be found. The young man in this video has learned how to overcome his obstacles. I hope you enjoy his story as much as I.

Until next time …

Toni