Wednesday, December 09, 2009
Please update your feeds to the following Web address: http://sallyaroundthebay.com
I look forward to seeing you at our new Web home. I'm thinking about having a housewarming party with some prizes... more info to come soon.
You can also find us on Facebook at Sally Around The Bay.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
I’ve seen people buy all sorts of offices supplies – a new computer, a new fax machine, a fancy printer, a scanner, a phone system, pens, etc.
I’ve also seen people use all these "things" they must have as an excuse to not put themselves out there and really start their business. I hear things like, "I can’t go to that networking meeting because I don’t have a Website yet or I don't have brochures yet or my Website isn't done yet." I'll let you in on a little secret… Websites are never done!
If you are thinking about starting a business I say start with the basics. Get a Website or Blog and a simple professional looking business card. The letterhead, brochures, logos and fancy Website are not going to get you business. What is going to get you business are your skills at networking and connecting with others, the quality of service you provide and a way for people to find you (ie. contact info on Website and business cards).
What are you waiting for? Stop trying to be perfect. Stop making excuses. Stop wasting money. Remember you have a service to offer that most likely someone else needs.
Do you need help getting started on your new business? Or getting over a slump? Contact Sally_K to set up a Business Brainstorming Session!
Pic of office supplies via Flickr User nickjohnson
PS. Thanks to Mack Collier for explaining an easy way to give photo credit when using creative common photos from Flickr.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
I recently had a networking experience that felt "icky" to me. How can I explain this? I met a man at an event, he heard me talking about Twitter and social networking (many of you know how much I LOVE to talk about this subject, I get a little passionate when doing so) anyway he asked me for my card and said he'd like to hear more about what I do. The next day he called and asked if I wanted to get together and have coffee to network some more. Being the networking advocate I am, I said yes.
When I arrived for coffee he introduced me to his colleague, explaining they had other meetings to attend today so she came along for this one as well. I thought great, I get to meet another person. They asked me all about Twitter, my blog, social networking and I blabbed on and on talking about being authentic, about how it's not about sales but is about relationships, they agreed and said they loved the concept because that is how they practice business.
About 15 minutes in to our conversation, I asked him why he wanted to meet today, if he just wanted to hear more about what I do or if he had any questions. Suddenly, his colleague took over and dove in to a total sales pitch trying to sell me a service I did not need, nor want. She went on and on, while the wheels were turning in my head and I was slowly realizing what was happening...
I was thinking to myself, did they even really care about what I do? were they here to sell me their services? I felt like a big dummy for going on and on about social networking. Maybe I was too presumptuous myself and should have spent a little more time at the beginning of the meeting to check in with them.
Meanwhile she is still talking about all the benefits of what they do and how much I will benefit from it. Then she said, "so tell me how we can help you?". I looked at her confused and said, "I'm not looking for help, I'm here today because he invited me. I'm not looking for X services, I don't need them. Thank you". I'm not going to bore you with the rest of the conversation but it just didn't sit right with me. We were all polite to each other but by this point I felt like they weren't being authentic, I felt they didn't really care about what I did, they just smiled politely and kept asking questions to keep me talking. I may be totally wrong, because they seemed like really nice people, perhaps they did care about what I do and they just have a different style of networking but I came out of the meeting feeling icky, which means I'm probably not going to use their services and I'm not going to refer them to my large network of friends.
I'm telling this story not to criticize these people but to share with any of you who may be wondering why you haven't "sealed the deal" lately. If you are having trouble "closing the sale" with clients maybe it is time to take a step back and look at your own approach to networking.
If you are going to invite someone for a meeting to try to sell them your services please let them know in advance. Maybe even find out if they are at all interested in your services. Time is precious these days.
My advice is to network, network, network but please be authentic when doing so.
After re-reading this, I realized I'm being a little hard on these people. I'm sure they are good, nice and caring people. I'm not saying people who do hard sales are bad people, just saying they may want to re-evaluate the way they look at networking and sales. It's totally fine to share what you do and talk about your business but that is different than trying to convince someone they need your services.
I'm stepping off my soap box now. Thank you for listening.
Friday, September 18, 2009
I put away Poncho's (my dog) file (with all the Vet receipts and other miscellaneous Poncho info) back with the personal files in the other room where it belongs! I also put away my recipe file that got left in here after I emailed Becki the Crock Pot stew recipe.
It seems my blog ramblings about organizing my desk have inspired a few others to do the same. After day 1 of my urge to purge my mom sent me a picture of her desk saying my problem (of a clutter filled desk) might be genetic.
Today my mom sent me a new pic of her clean desk. She wanted to note that the flower was placed there just for the picture because she would never actually leave a vase there where water could be spilled on her keyboard.
Something I've learned (remembered) in these 4 days of purging. Keeping your desk clean and organized in an ongoing process. You can't just clean your desk once and expect it to stay clean. You have to always put away what you take out. It's a good idea to set time aside each day to clear off the clutter. I don't know about you but my desk is like a clutter magnet. My desk was cleared off a few minutes ago but now it has my book, my purple pen, my water bottle, my wallet and my lotion on it. If I don't stop right now to put these things back where they belong they may soon take permanent residence on my desk top.
Day 5 I will tackle my In box.
Although I have put away and purged quite a bit, I'm still not happy with my desk. After taking today's photo I'm seeing what I need to work on next either the files and other stashed papers to the left or the so called In Box to the right (a.k.a. place to stick things I know I need to deal with but probably never will box). Notice Intuit QuickBooks Pro 2009 box... I don't know how many months it has been sitting there waiting for me to install the new version of Quickbooks. I could probably take those sent faxes out of my fax machine and file them too.
To reward my efforts so far I gave my desk a little gift. Yes I know adding things to my desk in the middle of clearing out probably isn't the wisest thing to do but whatever it makes me smile. I bought a friend for Robbie the Robot, a little purple and pink wind up butterfly. I also bought new purple pens because *gasp* I ran out of purple ink yesterday.
How is your purging going? Is your desk/office looking better?
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Yesterday I purged (actually put away) my pens, the little bulldog clip, sticky notes, kid's school directory and my check book. I purged an old sudefed pill that was in my desk drawer and has been in there for probably a year. Why was I saving a sudefed pill in my desk drawer? Who knows?
You may have noticed the little wind up robot on my desk from yesterday's photo or maybe you didn't because my desk was so messy he fell over.
The little robot is named Robbie. When I was in 4th grade I wrote a story about Robbie the Robot explaining that the reason my desk was messy inside was because there was a robot named Robbie that lived in there and messed it up every night while I was at home sleeping. My teacher thought this was so funny, he shared the story with other teachers, students and my parents. A few months ago in Diva Day I was complaining about my messy desk and remembered the story of Robbie the Robot. I shared the story with the group and someone suggested I get a robot to keep on my desk and remind myself not to be so hard on myself about my messy desk.
I'd like to introduce you to Robbie. However, now that I'm a grown up it is time for me to take ownership for my own mess. It is not Robbie's fault. I can't blame Robbie. Robbie is here to remind me to keep my desk clean. When he falls over it's a reminder to me that it's time to stop and clean up the desk again.
It's time for me to purge (or put away 5 more things). How are you doing with keeping your desk clean? Did you find any strange things on your desk or in your desk drawers?
I recently met Jen from Inspired Home Office through Diva Day who explained to me that it is okay to have things on my desk. A desk in use is going to have stuff on it. So Jen's words gave me some encouragement but I still want that clean and shiny executive desk that I picture myself having. I want to walk in to my office and look at my desk and feel a sense of relaxation. Not walk in and get mad at myself for having such a messy desk.
In an effort to achieve the desk I dream of, the desk I preach about... I am going to start purging. I got the idea to purge 5 things a day for 5 days and thought it would be fun to invite others to join me. Is your desk a mess? Do you want to do the 5 things a day for 5 days purge?
There is a section in mine and Yvonne's book called:
"IDENTIFY THE PITFALLS TO SUCCESS AND AVOID THEM"I think it is time I start practicing what I preach. It's so easy to give advice and sometimes so hard to follow it.
Pitfall #4 - Clutter
When you visualize a successful CEO’s office, do you see a messy, clutter-filled office with so much paper work piled up you can’t even see the top of the desk? Or do you see a spacious, clean, simple office with an organized desk and a big, shiny workspace?
Now look around your own office and desk. Does it look like the successful CEO’s office or is it a clutter-filled mess? Schedule a few minutes at the end of each today to put back what you have taken out (i.e. files, office supplies, etc). - Managing Your Thriving Business For Success.
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
Thursday, September 03, 2009
I just sent a proposal to a potential client. I have to admit I procrastinated on this proposal because I was feeling a little intimidated. Not intimidated about the work, because I know my team would do an awesome job on the project. What I felt intimidated about was how I was going to present my proposal. This potential client had received a proposal from a big company and she showed me the proposal to ask if this is something I could do for her. The proposal was very professional looking and presented in charts and easy to read.
For some reason, because I saw that proposal I felt like I had to submit a proposal that looked just like it. I don't do my proposals like that. I'm pretty simple and straight forward. I write out what I will do for you and how much it will cost. I don't add all the bells and whistles.
This morning I realized I wasn't being authentic by worrying about how my proposal should look. I realized I just need to send her my proposal the way I write them. It is then up to her to decide if she wants to work with me the person who sends simple and straight forward proposals or work with the company that sends the pretty, polished and formulated proposal. Whoever she chooses is probably the right person for her.
Are you being authentic in how you present yourself to your customers and potential clients?
Is your business THRIVING or just surviving?
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
The part where Lissa described wearing the mommy hat cracked me up. I guess I could totally relate to what she was saying.
"When wearing my Mommy hat, I’m supposed to instantly know how to relate to kids, carry organic snacks everywhere, show up at preschool gatherings looking rested, athletic, and unfazed by the fact that my kid puked all over me the previous night – not to mention bring unfettered volunteer efforts to every kiddie project."Are you being authentic to yourself? Do you love the business you started? Do you get excited about the work you have to do? Sometimes we get so caught up in what we should be doing we forget to think about what we could be doing.
We think as a Virtual Assistant we should offer these services, but what if we hate these services whatever these services are. Say you hate doing bookkeeping but you thought you should offer it as a service because you are a Virtual Assistant and that is what Virtual Assistants do. Try replacing the word should with could and see how your perspective changes. I could offer bookkeeping as a service. Now check in with yourself and see how that feels. Does that feel right for you or does the idea of offering bookkeeping feel awful? If it feels awful then don't offer bookkeeping as a service. This can work the other way too.
Say you want to offer a service that is not traditionally considered a Virtual Assistant service. Other VAs might tell you that you should not do that but you know what? You can do it if you want because this is your business and you can do whatever you want! If you want to offer online classes in basket weaving as a service of your VA business then go ahead and do it. Be yourself, be authentic and next time you hear yourself saying, I should... try replacing it with I could and you just might be surprised at all the possibilities that pop in to your head. I first heard the idea of replacing should with could by Louise Hay in the book You Can Heal Your Life and it really resonated with me.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
If you are an entrepreneur and feeling busy or overwhelmed maybe now is the time for you to consider hiring a Virtual Assistant. Think of all the things you have to do. Do you really want to do those things? Do you even have time to do those things? Wouldn’t you rather be doing the things you love and working on what you are good at? You didn’t get in to business to do all the admin stuff... did you? You got in to business because you are good at what you do and you should be doing more of that and delegating all the other stuff.
If this sounds like you and you are ready to take the next step, I’d be happy to talk with you about how I can help you. If I'm not the right person for you I'm sure I can refer you to the right person. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
To find out more information about Virtual Simplicity visit my Website at www.virtualsimplicity.net
I look forward to hearing from you!
Wednesday, August 05, 2009
The 4th Annual Online VA Summit will be on Friday, November 6th from 8:00 am - 8:00 pm Eastern (US).
Become a fan of the IVAA (International Virtual Assistant Association) Facebook Fan Page to stay up to date with events and activities.
The IVAA 2010 Live Summit is going to be in Phoenix, AZ in April. Visit www.vasummit.org for more information.
Monday, August 03, 2009
If you don't use your real name on Twitter...
- I'm not sure who you are.
- I forget who you are.
- If I meet you in person I'm confused as to who you are unless you say I'm @TwitterIDSoandSo.
- I start to wonder who I am talking to.
- I don't quite trust you because I'm not exactly sure who you are.
Thank you for listening to my Twitter rant.
PS. This post is not directed to anyone in particular. I have lots of Twitter friends who don't use their real name and even though I wish they would use their real names I still love them.
Wednesday, July 08, 2009
Unlike, Tawnya Sutherland I do NOT miss wearing high heels. You can read here about how Tawnya was inspired to create Virtual Assistant High Heels Day.
I have never been fond of high heels. In fact, I am not even fond of wearing shoes period. Shoes hurt my feet. I only wear shoes when I absolutely have to. It was a joke with my family when I was growing up, "Sally, put your shoes on!". My high school principal used to seek me out and make sure I had my shoes on (because I never did). I walked around high school in stocking feet hoping no one would notice. The principal got to the point where he would stand and wait for me to put my shoes on (the ones I carried in my bag in case any person of authority insisted I wear my shoes). I remember one time walking around a mall with no shoes on and my mom kept telling me to put them on, I didn't put them on until the security guard told me I had to or we would have to leave. Darn liability laws.
The point is, I do not like shoes and I especially do not like heels but I hate to miss a out on something fun. So... I put my heels up high and took a picture and submitted it to the VAnetworking High Heels Day which also happens to be bringing awareness and support to the March of Dimes.
"If you would like to show your support in a monetary fashion, please also visit the March of Dimes website and submit your donation in Honor of Virtual Assistant High Heels Day."
Friday, July 03, 2009
What these non-tweeting people don't understand is that some people do care. In today's society most of us are glued to our computer screens. We don't pick up the phone as much as we used to because we don't want to bother the person and sending an email is easier anyway. Neighbors and friends don't just stop by now they send evites to plan a BBQ one month in advance.
Remember in the show, I Love Lucy how Ethel would stop by Lucy's everyday just to say hi and ask what she was doing? It seems people don't have time anymore to ask. I think Twitter is filling that void in our life!
Our friends, family, spouses and neighbors are all so busy they rarely stop to say, “how are you? or what are you doing?”
Many of us on Twitter have found it to be a very gratifying experience connecting us to other people.
I personally get all warm and fuzzy when I announce on Twitter I’m going for a hike with my dog and one of my followers responds saying have a great hike or asks me how the hike was. It feels good to be listened to, heard and acknowledged.
I try to explain to my non-tweeting friends that Twitter is not really about broadcasting yourself. It is more about building relationships. For the most part, my friends don’t get it. Although, I’ve noticed many of them have set up Twitter pages and are lurking still trying to figure out what the point is. If they would just take the leap, jump in and participate in some conversation they might understand.
Thanks to all my Twitter friends for listening.
PS. While I was writing this I tweeted that I was drinking coffee and getting ready for a hike, a Twitter friend @Ribeezie responded before I finished this post. I love my Twitter friends!
Monday, June 15, 2009
Your Name: Lisa Hunter
Company Name: Inner Business Diva
Type of Company: A place for spirited, go-getting entrepreneurial women to make new business connections and thrive
How long have you been in business? I've had this particular business for 4 years. Overall, I've been in business for myself for 14 years!
Why/How did you get in to this business? I have the spirited, go-getting-entrepreneurial-woman gene myself, which means that I tend to have friends who are the same way. We have so much fun when we get together - the brainstorming, the inspiration, the connections and the goofball antics. I would feel so alone running my own business if I didn't have these women in my life. I also love facilitating new connections. So... I decided to make it official and create a network where spirited entrepreneurial women gather and then magic ensues.
Do you have fun running your business? Yes yes yes! I used to be on a very long path of working myself into the ground until I couldn't take it anymore. Then last year I decided that I would only say 'yes' to projects that feel fun and that energize me. Seriously, if fun isn't in the equation I don't do it. And the Diva Day network is about women connecting, but it's also about getting together and blowing off a little steam and getting kinda goofy. You know how you get a little goofy after you've been sitting in front of your computer for too long? Well you're totally encouraged to act on that goofiness on the network, and best of all, the other women "get" it.
What do you sell? What service do you offer? Two things: Superlicious Diva Business Day which is a network for the sassy, passionately-driven entrepreneurial type. Diva Day is just once a month, which I love because it makes the day really special, with lots of synergy. I'm also about to launch a new book/course: Sexy Time Management. It teaches you the art of tapping into your right rhythm and using that to guide your scheduling, rather than all those boring old time management tips that we've all tried, but that never seem to fully work for anybody.
What is your favorite product that you sell? Can't pick! It's like being a mom and trying to pick your favorite kid!
Do you have any specials right now? There's a special on your first Diva Day. Since the only way to find out if you like Diva Day is try it, I like to meet your risk by giving you an intro rate of $14 for your first Diva Day. And then the regular monthly membership fee after that is $19 if you decide you want to stay. You can try it out and cancel if you find it's not your cup of tea.
Any advice for new entrepreneurs, someone just getting started?
It really is important to keep things fun. The products/services that I've offered over the years have been progressively more and more fun for me. And I've noticed that I get more energy from my offerings, the more they include a playful component. I know that place well of being all serious and tired from owning a business, and it just doesn't feed the business or you. Now, incorporating fun is sometimes easier said than done, but I'll tell ya - if you can find even little ways, or if you can weave it into one of your products/services, your business and your soul will thank you!
Where can people find your product? My cute l'il ole website! The specific page for Diva Day is: www.InnerBusinessDiva.com/diva-business-day
What is the best way to contact you or to order your product online? If you're interested in Diva Day, there's lots of information on the site and if it feels right to you, then you can just sign up on the Diva Day page. If you have questions, then you can fill out the contact form on the page and I'll be happy to answer whatever you need to know.
Do you want to offer a special discount or offer to Virtual Simplicity blog readers? Hmmm, they can have the first TWO months for $14/month. And then $19 after that. They'd just need to send me a special email that they read your blog so that I can program the billing accordingly. And they don't have to commit to the ongoing, they can cancel whenever they want.
Thanks Lisa! I can't wait until the next Diva Day which I know is coming up soon!
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Ever since I first heard about TweetUps I wanted to attend one. A year or so ago I started asking if anyone was interested in a local TweetUp... no response. Since Twitter has grown so rapidly in the last 6 months I decided to ask again because this time I knew I had a handful of local followers. I got responses this time! People said yes they'd love to participate in a TweetUp. One woman @LissaRankin volunteered her office space at Clear Center of Health in Mill Valley. Others (@pobutler) offered to bring things. Lissa and I decided to co-host the TweetUp and to make it a potluck. We weren't sure how many people were going to come.
Last night I arrived at Clear Center with my vegetarian springrolls in one hand, sparkly water and wine in the other and walked in to be greeted by Lissa's coworkers, charming husband and adorable daughter. They were so nice and welcoming and told me Lissa was coming a little bit later. We rearranged the meeting space, got tables set up, put out our food and wondered if anyone was going to show up. They did! One by one people came walking in with food or drinks in hand. I think we had 20 people total. Four men, the rest women.
I wasn't sure what to expect with a room full of strangers but what I found was a room full of interesting, friendly people. It was probably the most relaxed and comfortable event full of strangers that I've ever been to. But I guess we aren't really strangers. We see each others tweets, we follow each others lifes. We carryon conversations.
I had a strange experience earlier in the day. A local business owner contacted me for something else and I wrote him back asking if he was on Twitter and invited him to our TweetUp. He wrote me back basically telling me he thought Twitter was a waste of time. He said if I can figure out how to make magic with Twitter then God bless me. Well guess what? I think I did figure out how to make magic with Twitter. Last night I was in a beautiful, warm, friendly office filled with wonderful people who I now consider friends. I would have never had this experience if it weren't for Twitter. It feels pretty magical to me!
Thank you to everyone who came to the TweetUp!
Photos from the TweetUp!
Thursday, June 04, 2009
So many people are still trying the "get rich quick schemes", the bullhorn shouting look at me stuff and the same old marketing techniques. I keep telling people it is not about that anymore. It is about creating relationships with people, building trust and being real.
Tara Hunt said in her book The Whuffie Factor: Using the Power of Social Networks to Build Your Business "Turn the bullhorn around, Stop talking and start listening."
If you are thinking about using Social Media to sell your next product or service please watch this video before doing so. Thank you.
Thanks to Scott of @UnMarketing for creating this video (and tweeting about it so I saw it).
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
Do you ever feel like you are running in a social network race? I do. But I don't know who I am racing? I think it is a race against time.
A race for information, a feeling of not knowing enough, feeling like you need to do more, read more, learn more. Trying to keep up with all the interesting tweets on Twitter. Checking out all the cool and informative links that people tweet. Staying on top of Facebook updates, becoming fans of various businesses, organizations and causes on Facebook. Keeping up with reading blogs, writing blog posts and commenting on blogs. Checking email, Skype, Yahoo and AIM. Read the news online. Watch a few YouTube videos, Blip some songs. Remember to check text messages on iPhone. Check Google alerts. Review Google analytics. Attend conferences about blogging and social networking, attend and/or coordinate Webinars and tele-seminars. Teach clients, friends and family about social networking. Re-learn how to use Wordpress. Contemplate moving this blog from Blogger to Wordpress. Try to keep up at Virtual Assistant networking, IVAA, and all the other great online forums and communities I am a part of. Check MySpace and other random social networking sites (occasionally). Organize a local TweetUp. Agree to do an interview about my blog. And, and, and... the list goes on and on.
Thanks for listening to my brain dump. The previous paragraph is a description of a usual day in the life of Sally.
This is the part where I should say what the moral of this story is… but I don't know what it is. I think the moral is sometimes I need to turn my computer off and just chill or do nothing. I think I’m going to step away from the computer and finish reading The Whuffie Factor: Using the Power of Social Networks to Build Your Business.
No wonder I can't sleep at night. Sheesh.
Monday, June 01, 2009
(I can't get the video to fit properly in the post so please click the link to watch)
The Vendor Client Relationship in Real World Situations
Thanks Candy and Nina!
Monday, May 25, 2009
I was so stressed working with this one demanding and unappreciative client that it was affecting my whole business, to the point where I almost let the wrong clients go.
Pulling that one bad apple out of my business and cleaning up the rest has made such a huge difference in my business and my life.
I now love all my clients and love the work I do with them.
Also, removing the rotten apple made room for a big beautiful pineapple in my client bowl.
Lately, I've been focused on clearing out the clutter in my closets, in my email, etc. Sometimes it's good to look at the clients in your business and decide if you have any clutter (or bad apples) to clear out.
Every time I have let a client go a new one has arrived and my business has blossomed.
“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” - Alexander Graham Bell
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
I think of a Virtual Assistant as a partner to business owners. We partner with you to bring you success. We assist in your success.
I got a call today from a potential client. In the first 2 minutes of the call I could already tell she had a preconceived notion of what an assistant was. To her the work an assistant did was of less value than the work she did. She said something like, "Frankly, I cannot believe you are charging so much for such simple work. I've never paid an assistant that much and really think it is too high for the kind of work you do." First of all, this woman does not know the kind of work I do. She has never worked with me. She does not know me or any of my clients. She found me on google. How can she decide what my work is worth?
There is a reason I list my rates on my Website and that is to avoid talking to people who think it is okay to tell me I am not worth what I charge. I mean isn't it kind of rude to call someone and tell them they are not worth their fee? If you don't want to pay their fee don't call them.
I told this woman I only do high end, high quality work and I don't lower my rates. I suggested she contact a local college to find a student who might be willing to do the "simple work" for the lower pay.
I totally understand that small business owners and entrepreneurs are on a budget and that investing in a Virtual Assistant is a big deal. That is why I don't lock my clients in to a set minimum amount of hours. But I also know you get what you pay for. Do these people tell their doctors they don't think the 2 minute exam was worth $95? Do they tell their lawyers the 1 hour consultation is not worth $350?
What Virtual Assistants do is not simple work. If it were simple wouldn't everyone just do it themselves? Yes, probably you could do it yourself but then you wouldn't have time do what you love. What Virtual Assistants do is important work that needs to be done!
Monday, May 18, 2009
Adding an event to a Fan Page with the new Facebook® design is a whole new challenge. I had to spend some time researching how to add a new event to the Fan Pages I have been managing. I found this blog very helpful.
Thursday, May 07, 2009
Are you a lone wolf or do you hang out with other Virtual Assistants? If you are a lone wolf I suggest you try networking with other Virtual Assistants. I have learned so much from my VA colleagues. Virtual Assistants are a special breed, we like to share, we like to learn from each other, we like to challenge each other and we like to see each other succeed.
I don't know if any studies have been done but my unofficial research says that networking with other Virtual Assistants will bring your business to a higher level of success.
Here area few great places to hang out if you are a VA:
Oh and if you are a Virtual Assistant on Facebook please join the IVAA fan page. I am the new admin for the IVAA Facebook fan page. (So please become a fan to make me look good as the new admin) *wink*
If you are new to online networking here is must have ebook written by Angela Smith!!!
She shares lots of great tips and tricks for networking online.
Online Networking for the Newbie
This just added! I told Angela I was featuring her book and she offered my readers a discount!!! Thanks Angela - you rock!
Virtual Simplicity blog readers get $5.00 off the price of Angela’s e-book, "Online Networking for the Newbie." With this discount, you can pick up a copy of the e-book for only $9.95 or the VA Combo Pack (which includes the e-book and the Virtual Toolkit) for only $12.95. Just enter the following coupon code at checkout: SIMPLICITY.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Example of annoying Auto DM: Thanks for the follow! Would You Like to Know How to Get 16,000 Followers in 90 Days. (Um, NO!)
Today I got an authentic DM from someone and I was so impressed I decided to tweet about it and let others know.
With the flood of new users and celebrities to Twitter I propose we try to remind people to stay authentic, be real, be yourself and don't just try to sell something.
In talking to @relocatedyank who also received an authentic DM today I came up with the hashtag #AuthenticTweeps. Let's spread the word about #AuthenticTweeps and teach these new users what Twitter is all about.
Okay, I'm getting off my soap box now.
Thanks for listening.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Company Name: The Bath Nook™
Type of Company: Handmade Beauty Products
How long have you been in business? I’ve been in business for 7 months.
Why/How did you get in to this business? While I was a Virtual Assistant I found the Indie Business Forum. After spending some time reading through the posts I decided to target independent beauty manufacturers. The more time I spent reading through the posts, the more I got involved. I started a newsletter for independent manufacturers and joined IBN, but that wasn't enough for me. I was not satisfied on the inside.
The more I learned about making handmade beauty products the more I wanted to make a batch of soap. On September 30, 2008, I made my first batch of soap. The following month I had to make a decision to either target independent beauty manufacturers or make soap, but I couldn't do both. I didn't think it would be fair to other Indies if I made beauty products and also served as Virtual Assistant, so I decided to make soap.
I'm very happy with the decision I made, and I'm more satisfied than ever.
Do you have fun running your business? Yes. I absolutely love it! I love interacting with my customers and potential customers. I enjoy making all of my products and at the end knowing they’re beneficial to each customer.
What do you sell? I sell face & body soap, bath salts and gift boxes. Soaps and bath salts come in 4 fragrances: Oatmeal, Lavender, English Rose, and Sandalwood. Also I offer unscented soap and bath salt to customers that are sensitive to fragrances. Gift boxes are available in your choice of fragrance. Each Gift box includes: 1 full size bar soap, 1 guest size soap, 1 complexion brush, 1 loofah disc, and 2 oz. bath salt.
What is your favorite product that you sell? All of products are my favorite. However, I love selling the oatmeal soap because it’s my #1 seller. Not only do the women love it, but I have numerous men that purchase the oatmeal soap.
Anything else you would like to share about your business? A large percentage of products that you put on your skin are absorbed in the body. My products are geared toward people that want a bath and body product that is free of harsh chemicals, and also people with sensitive skin types that prefer a dye-free product.
All products are dye-free with 98% natural ingredients.
Any advice for new entrepreneurs, someone just getting started? If you are just getting started in the beauty industry I highly recommend that you do your homework. Not only should you research ingredients and then start making soap or any handmade beauty product, but study the laws that come along with the industry.
Where can people find your product? People can find my products online at www.thebathnook.com, and locally at International Barber & Style College (in store only).
What is the best way to contact you or to order your product online? Orders can be placed at www.thebathnook.com, or by email. The best way to contact me is by email at email@example.com.
Anything else you would like to add? Just for Virtual Simplicity blog readers – Receive 10% off your first order when you enter the discount code: VSB1546 (discount cannot be combined with any other discount).
Wow thanks for offering the discount Dusty! This would be a great *Mother's Day gift! - Sally
If you would like to be a featured business on the Virtual Simplicity blog please send me a DM on Twitter or email me at sallyk @ virtualsimplicity.net
*Update: All orders for Mother's Day must be placed by 4/30/09. Order now! http://thebathnook.com/
Monday, April 06, 2009
In taking care of all these people, beings and things I sometimes forget to take care of myself. If I don't take care of myself, I'm not going to be able to take care of everyone else.
In an effort to take better care of myself I have made a few changes to my routine. I now go for a hike with my dog (and neighbor) every morning before I start work. We hike for at least 1 hour everyday. I am thankful that I live where I live. My house is located right next to the trailhead leading in to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
I am also giving myself special treats. For instance, I'm now only using high quality soap that smells amazing. No more grocery store soap for me. I get my soap from The Bath Nook. The Oatmeal soap is my favorite! I'm telling you this is the best soap ever! My family loves it too.
One more thing I am doing to take care of myself is to have organic fruit and vegetables delivered to my home. Planet Organics delivers a $32 box of fresh organic fruits and vegetables to my house every other week. Yummy!
What are you doing to take care of yourself?
Monday, March 30, 2009
Instead of bothering Heather with picking a winner. I used www.random.com and the winner is...
Baba from Baba's Farm Life!
Baba - I will be contacting you so I can send you the book!
5MininuesForMom Thanks for the party!!!
Friday, March 13, 2009
The amount of new Virtual Assistants on the scene has been growing like crazy over the last year. I'm guessing this is because of the way the economy is. People are losing their jobs and saying, "hey I could be a virtual assistant". What some people don't understand is that being a virtual assistant means you are a business owner and not an employee.
Like Candy of OffAssist, I've been getting a lot of requests from new Virtual Assistants wanting work or information and I feel I haven't been responding to them as much as I could be. I am thankful for Candy's new vlog: 2 Minutes With a VA. I now direct people here who contact me for information.
2 Minutes With a VA is filled with some great resources for new VAs.
The request I get most often from new VA's is: How can I become a subcontractor? A great way to get started as a VA is to be a subcontractor. However, to be a subcontractor you first need to find a VA willing to try you out. Lanel Taylor has a great answer to the question: How does a Virtual Assistant become a subcontractor? You can listen to the answer here:
Sunday, March 01, 2009
Thanks to Corine who commented on my last post with this video link and thanks to HappySlip for creating this fun video.
A few weeks ago, I posted this under my notes* in Facebook®.
Facebook is weird!*notes in Facebook® is similar to a blog.
It's the one place where your past & present collide. Your personal and professional life overlap (well at least mine does). Your friends from middle school suddenly appear and post a ton of pictures of you from when you were 12. Your ex-boyfriends start appearing one at a time and now they are all in one place together. Your clients, employers, co-workers, ex-friends, new friends, kids, kid's friends, ex-husbands, lovers, acquaintances and strangers all together commenting on what you are doing at the moment. Friends from high school, people you don't remember from high school, people that remember too much from high school, your family, your neighbors... They are all there (here) together. People in your life that would never interact now have the opportunity to interact. It's just weird. Normally when you go for a job interview or are negotiating a project with a new client you don't show them your pictures from middle school, talk about your exes, or tell them what you are doing every minute of the day. I'm just wondering what this all means in the big picture of life? It's kind of strange and cool at the same time.
I'm not sure how I feel about having you all here together... so far it's a fun ride.
Would love to hear your thoughts about this big social experiment we are all involved in.
This got me thinking... I update my Facebook® page quite frequently and maybe I don't want every single Facebook® "friend" of mine to always be in-the-know of exactly what I am doing.
Did you know you can change your privacy settings so your "friends" don't get updated every time you comment on a picture, write on someone's wall or update your status? You can even specify certain "friends" to get limited updates from you. (You know those friends who it caused less drama to accept their friend request than to ignore it. If you have friends like that.) *wink*
To change your privacy settings in Facebook®
- Sign in to your account
- Click on the link Settings (located at the top right of your screen, next to your name)
- Click the word manage (next to Privacy)
- Click on the word Profile
- Click on Edit Custom Settings under Status Updates
- Where it says Except These People add in any of those special friends you may not want seeing your every move.
Become a fan of Virtual Simplicity on Facebook®!
If you are new to Facebook®, want to set up a Facebook® profile or page for yourself or your business and just don’t have the time or the patience to do it yourself… Virtual Simplicity can help you!
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Hi, my name is Sally and I am a Facebook-
Last night @CandieB and I even moderated a chat about Facebook® during the VAnetworking VAjot Chat.
Are you on Facebook®? If you are an entrepreneur and you are not on Facebook®, I believe you are missing out on some great networking opportunities.
For many (including myself), Facebook® is not intuitive and not very user friendly. I’ve learned a few basic steps that have helped me navigate my way through Facebook® and wanted to share them with you.
- Notifications – Did you know that when you sign in to Facebook® there is a quick way to see what's new in relationship to you? Just click on the little white sign icon at the bottom right of your screen. If there is a red box with a number in it that means you have a new notification. This is the fastest way to see what has happened since the last time you signed on. It will tell you if someone has tagged you in a photo, if someone has written on your wall, etc
- Fan Pages & Groups – Fan Pages are very popular on Facebook® right now. Most business have one or plan to get one soon. Does your business have one? You may already be a Fan of a number of pages but do you know how to find those pages again? The fastest way is to type the name in to the Search Box located at the top right of your screen. (This also works for finding friends quickly).
- Ignore – Facebook® can be overwhelming. My advice is to use the ignore button frequently. If someone throws a sheep at you, sends you a drink, invites you to take a quiz or download a new application just hit the ignore key. Don’t feel obligated to accept everything that is thrown your way.
- Etiquette - If you are going to throw something or invite people to play games, join various applications please hand pick who you are going to throw things at. If you must throw things at people please do so only to people that you know will enjoy it. Please don’t send/throw things to your entire list especially if you are using Facebook to network, you wouldn’t want to annoy a potential client.
Monday, February 23, 2009
Before turning on the computer today I pulled out the book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen to re-read. It's a great system that I usually follow. Somewhere along the line I dropped the ball and things started piling up. Maybe it was when I was sick in December, maybe it was my vacation in January, maybe it was I've been so super busy I forgot to take my own advice and plan my day. Whatever it was... my email in box and my actual in box on my desk were overflowing.
After turning my computer on today, the first thing I did was open my in box and blast through it. Just like Jaime, I sorted by who the emails were from and was able to quickly get through them. For the most part everything that was left in my in box was something that could have been taken care of in 2 minutes or less.
The 2-Minute Rule is one of my favorite GTD tips from David Allen. If you can do it in less than 2 minutes then just do it! Considering I had let 68 emails pile up in my in box (the kind that would have taken 2 minutes or less to deal with) I just doubled or tripled my time spent on emails because I read them when they originally arrived, decided to deal with them later, occasionally scanned them over the last few weeks, then re-read them today and finally dealt with them. Instead of the 2 minutes that I could have taken as the original emails arrived I probably spent over 3 hours dealing with those 68 emails instead of 1 hour or less if I would have just dealt with them when they arrived.
How do you manage your emails?
Like Nike says, "Just Do It!" (Like David Allen says - Do it, Delete it or Delegate it).
Thursday, February 19, 2009
1. schedule a time each week to pay bills
2. create a designated place to put bills as they arrive (folder or a nice box)
Next step. If you don't know already... find out how much money you owe. Enter this information in an Excel document or on this form and total your monthly expenses.
If you have done all the steps so far you should have a scheduled time to pay bills each week, a designated place to put your bills when they come in and the awareness of how much money you owe. (If the amount you owe is huge - don't panic. Remember - knowledge is power. Nothing has changed, you still owe what you owe but now you know how much.)
More ideas and steps coming soon...
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
The first step in getting out of debt is to become conscious about money. You need to know how much money you have, how much you make, how much you owe and what you spend your money on. The only way to get out of debt is to first get out of denial.
How do you normally pay your bills?
Do you have a set time to do this each week, month?
Where do you keep your bills?
If you don't have a scheduled time to pay bills then this is a great place to start. Schedule a date and time to sit down and pay all your bills each month. (Go put that date and time on your calendar right now!)
Are all your bills in one place? If not then it is time to get them all in one place. Start a folder for bills or get a box to put on your desk. Do something that works for you. Every time a bill arrives in the mail immediately put it in this new designated space.
That is all for today. More ideas coming in the next post…
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
My favorite co-author Yvonne Weld is going to be partnering with Tawnya Sutherland at VAnetworking! Yvonne is going to be the president of the VAinsiders! Woohoo! I'm so excited about Yvonne and Tawnya working together! Watch out world!
Here is the press release:
Today, more than ever, we are seeing growth in the Virtual Assistant industry. As people fall victim to layoffs, work reductions and business closures they are finding there are very few opportunities for employment and, in an effort to survive in today’s economic strives, many are seeking ways to utilize their skills and work from home. Those starting Virtual Assistant businesses, in today’s competitive markets, are quickly learning that it takes more than just administrative skills to grow a thriving business and are continually looking for the tools and resources they need to not only build, but also maintain, a solid business.
Following in the footsteps of industry leaders before her, Tawnya Sutherland believed in the Virtual Assistant industry and wanted to help Virtual Assistants, both aspiring and practicing, by providing them with the tools and resources they needed. In 2003, she founded VAnetworking, which quickly became a meeting place where new and seasoned Virtual Assistants began to intermingle and share resources. Sutherland has learned to adapt as the Virtual Assistant industry has grown and continues to provide new resources, including the introduction of VAinsiders in 2006. It was this ability to adapt and grow that made her realize that there is so much more that the Virtual Assistant industry needs to realize its full potential.
In 2008, at an industry conference for Virtual Assistants, Sutherland met in person fellow Virtual Assistant, Yvonne Weld, after years of corresponding virtually. They began to share their ideas for Virtual Assistants and realized they not only shared their passion for seeing the Virtual Assistant industry grow and prosper, but they also worked well as a team, brainstorming ideas. Sutherland began to realize that a partnership was the best choice to fulfill her goal of becoming the premier resource that Virtual Assistants turn to when they have questions. “We want Virtual Assistants to realize their dreams sooner, to have the resources and tools they need to build a solid business, attract clients and become the successes they know they can be,” says Sutherland. “The ideas that we are developing now would make the industry leaders before us stand up and take notice.”
Sutherland is excited to announce that, beginning February 1, 2009, Yvonne Weld will be joining the VAnetworking.com team as VAinsider President. When asked about this partnership, Weld stated, “I am so thrilled to be working with Tawnya. When we get together, it is electric the ideas that flow between us and we are already implementing a lot of the ideas into programs and resources for Virtual Assistants. 2009 will definitely be the year to be a VAinsider.”
About Yvonne Weld
Yvonne Weld is the owner of Canadian-based Able Virtual Assistant Services, author of The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Thriving Business and the co-author of Managing Your Thriving Business for Success. Yvonne brings knowledge from a number of resources including personal experience (8 years in her previous employment as an Office Manager), education (graduate of several courses at the Small Business Centre, London, Ontario) and her love for information through reading and internet research. Yvonne also works with new and aspiring Virtual Assistants, through coaching and mentoring, to reach their full potential. To learn more about what Able Virtual Assistant Services can do for you, stop by http://www.ableva.com
About Tawnya Sutherland
Tawnya Sutherland’s professional background as a legal secretary, and then vice president of a computer company, formed the foundation for her foray into entrepreneurship over 10 years ago when she launched Mediamage Business Solutions. Today, Sutherland is a Certified Internet Marketing Business Strategist who helps business people turn clicks into cash. To learn more about Tawnya, VAnetworking and how to get your own business on the inside track to virtual success, visit http://www.VAnetworking.com