CHANGES = NEW OPPORTUNITIES

Changes are part and parcel of all our lives. From the day we arrive in this world, change is inevitable. We are constantly changing as we grow. Learning. Evolving. This goes on for our entire lives.

Being in business it’s exactly the same. Periods of growth and evolution. Changing is not unusual. Adapting to meet the demands of the marketplace and the needs of clients.

Sometimes changes are planned…other times they are thrust upon us by circumstances.

I’m currently finding myself in one of those “thrust upon you” changes. Not planned but something that has to be dealt with.

My ageing parents (almost 80 and 90) mean that I now need to be physically close to them. I have a lead role to play in helping care for them in their own home.

And you know what? I welcome the role.

They have taken care of me for my entire life, stood by me and seen me through ups, downs and bumps in the journey of life.

It is my turn to give back. To be close by. At hand to help as needed without being asked. It’s what our family does.

But of course this does have a massive impact on my business; big changes need to happen.

Changes needing to be managed

I’ve travelled my entire life. It’s never been a big deal for me to hop on a plane to meet clients, or to take Skype calls across time zones at weird hours.

BUT…that cannot continue…at least not for the immediate future.

So what does it mean for my business?

It means lots of juggling and in a nutshell, a bit of a restructuring.

I’ve spent many hours mulling everything over and thinking about what is possible in these new circumstances.

Challenges are actually opportunities…to explore other ways of doing things.

Opportunities

Opportunities come in many guises if we are open and receptive.

No point in looking at a door that is closed. Instead, it’s important to search for openings that lie ahead.

The result for me is:

1) Moving further into the online market.

What I have done for the last 10 years is help businesses move ahead by helping them to learn HOW to tackle challenges that prevent them from moving forward.

This can be done online; it actually works out a lot cheaper than having me on the spot. It makes my services more affordable and is actually a win/win.

Below are some of the things now available via online teaching:

  • Identifying your Unique Selling Point
  • Creating a Strategic Plan for your business
  • Elevating your brand profile without being ‘salesy’
  • Building a marketing/sales funnel
  • Understanding the power of social media and harnessing it to help your business
  • The key steps to take to CLOSE a sale without coming across as pushy

I am still here to answer the questions, but there is a component delivered via the modules.

Benefits

Way cheaper for a start!

Access to the modules at a time.

Queries are answered through weekly online sessions and via a private Facebook group. It’s not quite as instantaneous as one on one but the cost benefits make our services more affordable to many.

2) Less Travel

I can’t just hop on a plane to fly overseas or around Australia. Bookings for my in-person presence need to be scheduled well in advance.

Thankfully the Refresh, Reframe & Relax trips to Bali is still going ahead – next one in November – I am looking forward to it on so many levels!

3) Increasing the Writing Bureau output

Ghostwriting, grant writing, sponsorship proposals and of course our favourite area…

…supporting authors taking them from the idea stages to the finished and marketed product.

Never widely promoted previously, this is an area that has been steadily growing since Sasha joined the team; we’ll be ramping it up further.

Coping with changes

Coping capacities are determined by mindset and attitude. Being individuals means we each react in different ways, but being in business means it’s important to be proactive.

I’m getting feedback that I must be Wonder Woman, being able to put together business proposals, deliver workshops and also deal with current family circumstances. I’m no such thing – although it is flattering 🙂

The reality is simply this – learning to be resilient and excellent time management. It’s a skill I’ve picked up over many years.

I’ve also learnt that when you are open and using a smarketing mindset, there is always an opportunity.

The opportunity often means adapting to what circumstances present themselves. Looking forward…not backward. Being grateful for what you have.

I’m extremely grateful to still have my parents.

If you’d like to help me with this next phase of my business I would you to get in touch or recommend me to anyone who’d benefit from my new model of service.

Fly like a dragonFly like a dragon

Michelle

Effectively Communicating with a Virtual Assistant (VA)

A good working relationship with a virtual assistant (VA) comes down to clear communication that leaves no room for misunderstanding.

Heck, I think you can safely say that good communication is so important on all fronts and facets of life, not just business.

Everyone wants to be cooperative.

But unless you know what is expected, it can be really hard.

This is especially true when it comes to a business relationship and even more so when it exists in the virtual world.

Effectively communicating is the key to success on so many different fronts.

In my Facebook Live Q&A Wednesday I talked a little about using VA’s and it seems that it really struck a chord. Over 6 thousand views.

I’ve been innunated with PM’s, emails and the odd phone call with anecdotes and stories of experiences with VA’s. Some were on the positive side, many were negative and some just wanted clarity on what tasks a VA could do.

VA’s can do almost everything that does not require a physical presence.

However, the key to having a successful relationship is nailing down your requirements. AND communicating them clearly.

This post, on Effectively Communicating with Your VA was written by dear Bibi, who unfortunately passed away earlier this year. Vale Bibi Van Heerden – your wisdom continues to assist so many travelling the business journey.

We’re very fortunate to have a team of excellent VA’s that work with us here at Dragon Sisters.

It’s taken trial and error.

We’ve honed our skills at briefing, and we’re continually learning how better to communicate with our team.

You also need to keep in mind that many VA’s do not come from English as a first language background. So although they have fantastic skills, unless the briefing is clear, the results may not be exactly what you expected (or wanted).

If you have stories to tell of working with a VA, we’d love to hear them in the comments below. Similarly, if you are a VA, we’d love you to share your best tips for successful client relationships.

Fly like a dragon

Michelle

 

 

 

How to Effectively Communicate with your VA

Editors Note: The following article, a guest post, appeared in August 2016. We were saddened to hear of the passing of  Bibi Van Heerden in January 2017 – Vale Bibi.

Brilliant – you finally decided to get a VA! You might be terrified of letting go – don’t be. When you delegate, delegate fully. Make it work seamlessly by following these steps.

1. Make a great start

  • Don’t even consider getting a friend of family member as your VA – get someone who runs her own VA business. You will get a committed level of service, plus you get the benefit of her business experience. Win-win.
  • Don’t base your decision on cost. Think of it as an investment in your business – spend a little more to get more.
  • Get to know each other – mind-set & personality is half the relationship won. If you’re a little quirky, let it show. Concentrate of the positives of the relationship; don’t dwell on language or cultural differences.
  • Share mutual expectations & goals.
  • Be specific on what you require, & confirm your VA has the right skillset. You need to be confident that s/he will do what needs to be done.
  • Discuss how you will delegate work, communicate, and require feedback. Include exceptions and urgent work.
  • Step 1, after the initial interview, is to get a contract in place. Mandatory – don’t try to “wing it” by skipping this step. Include confidentiality clauses – this is your business, after all.
  • Step 2 in working together is to draw up a communication plan – a great way to test the waters with your new VA!

2. Set up shared software

  • Virtual face-to-face communication and email are the minimum you require. In addition, you may add in workload management software, collaboration software, etc. Some ideas: Slack, Skype, Google Hangouts, Evernote, DropBox, eBuddy, Trello, Yammer, Lastpass, Google Calendar, etc.
  • Ensure you can both view the workflow, and agree on times for updates – especially if you are in different time-zones.

3. Keep communication lines open

  • Set up a daily stand-up to discuss the day ahead – a quick convo: a) What tasks are in progress? B) What new tasks will she begin today? c) Are there any obstacles?
  • Restrict each email to one topic, for clarity.
  • Clearly outline your requirements, expectation, time-lines, and deadlines. Don’t forget your budget.
  • Follow-up, and confirm everything in writing. Reconfirm understanding with each delegated task.
  • Bear in mind that your VA likely has other clients, as well – so ensure that she is comfortable with meeting your deadlines.
  • Be patient – it may take a little time for you to adjust to each other’s methods.

4. Track progress

  • Be prepared to step in to clarify your expectations, especially at the start of the relationship; it takes a little time for the process to settle in & run smoothly.
  • Review in-progress results where appropriate. It feels a little sad to be given a large chunk of work, and left alone until delivery – show interest in what your VA is producing for you.
  • Depending on the terms of your contract, get interim figures on your usage hours – you don’t want an unpleasant surprise at the end of the billing period.

5. Provide feedback & encouragement

  • Treat your VA as a part of your team – value his skill-set.
  • Express appreciation & provide positive feedback – in terms of productivity, efficiency, and your positive outcomes as a result of her efforts.
  • He should feel comfortable reaching out to you any time he feels stuck.

6. Have regular reviews

  • Your VA needs to know your level of satisfaction.
  • You need to know your VA’s level of satisfaction.
  • Discuss concerns, better ways of communication or delivery, or processes.

Fabulous – you’ve freed yourself up from repetitive tasks & things you hate doing – think of all the time you now have to spend on revenue-generating activities!

Let us know in the comments how your VA has helped you in your business. Or, if you don’t have one yet, what’s stopping you?

AbouBibit the Author – Bibi Van Heerden (dec)  founder of Small Business Crux. A dedicated Success Coach, she relied on her experience as an IT project manager to improve her clients’ profitability through focused productivity and time management tools & techniques. As a solopreneur, she understood the demands of running a small business, and provided support through her services and blog.