Blog

business management, process management

Why You Must Have Systems in Place

Life happens. Whether you are going to have a baby, there is a death or illness in the family, or some other unexpected issue that will pull you away from your business, life does indeed happen.

So it’s really important to have systems in place for your business.

Without systems in your business, you are the business. This means:

  • The business needs you to get things done.
  • This makes it difficult for you to scale up.
  • It also makes it difficult for you to take time off.

With systems, you can step back, delegate and your business will still run without you.

What do I mean by “systems”. Systems are the procedures you have in place to keep your business running. Think of it as standard operating procedures you give your employees as checklists so they can implement it, even without training.

Systems should be set up for the activities that you use to run your business.

If any activity is required to get things done in your business, it should have a system. 

Getting systems in place may seem like a daunting task at first, but believe me, it’s better to have them in place BEFORE something happens, that way your business can keep on functioning while you deal with real life situations. 

Where to start.

  1. Write down what roles are required to get things done in your business.
  2. Write down the tasks that these roles need to perform.
  3. Document the procedures, create checklists or videos that show how these tasks can be done.
  4. Specify the tools and software that are required and how they are useful.
  5. Identify the handover points between tasks done by different roles. Document these as part of the systems.
  6. Test the systems and refine them as needed.
  7. Explore opportunities for automation.

Loom is a great tool to use for explaining systems. We use this tool at Life By Design and think it is a great way to show your team processes. You can make short explanatory videos for processes you follow in your day to day work. That way, if someone needs to step in for a day or two, there are instructions to follow. 

You might also want to consider hiring someone to help you get everything in place. They can be your processes’ guinea pig if needed, help type up processes and give insight on instructions that need to be clarified. 

So, not only are systems imperative for you to personally be able to step away from your business from time to time, but they also prime your business for sale or to scale up. Getting systems in place has GOOD benefits. 

Life By Design Virtual Solutions is a team of experts when it comes to building systems and standardization of your business. Reach out with any questions, we would be happy to help. 

business management, healthandwellness

Dealing With Stressors When Working From Home

Working from home does have a lot of benefits. No dress code, no manager breathing down your neck, no long commute, (thank goodness with these gas prices!) and being able to work wherever you want to are all positive aspects.

Adapting to a home/work environment has its own set of unique stressors and challenges, however.

For example, when working from home you are typically less physically active. This can affect both your overall health and sleep patterns. 

Also, motivation and distractions are biggies. Since you are in the comfort of your own home you are surrounded by things (and people and animals) that pull your mind elsewhere. For example; your tv, your pet, your kid, Amazon deliveries and even neighbors are all common distractions during working hours. These distractions can lead to a real lack of motivation. 

Two more challenges include dealing with a lack of structure (which can lead back to distraction) and difficulty setting boundaries. If you have kids at home, they won’t understand that you need time to work. Pets! The dogs still need walking, feeding and letting to go do their thang. Even friends and family might not totally understand that you are, in fact, at work. 

With these unique work-from-home difficulties  in mind, here are some tips for combating the stress of those challenges. 

  1. Creating a routine is a must. Not only will this help build structure for you personally, but also for the family, friends and pets in your life. 
    1. Create a practice that marks the beginning of your day: This may include taking a walk before you start working, taking a few moments to stretch, and/or enjoying a coffee or tea to start your day.
    2. Mark the end of your work day: Simple tasks like putting your work material away and out of sight, taking an evening walk or prioritizing one-on-one time with a family member who might not have gotten enough attention during the day.
    3. Set a morning alarm: Waking up at the same time everyday can give you enough time to prepare for your workday and helps with establishing your morning routine.
    4. Set a regular lunch time: Taking lunch at a similar time everyday can give you a much-needed break and offer you some time to refuel before getting back to work. Be sure to fully unplug during your lunch time so you can enjoy your break.
    5. Prioritize challenging tasks: If you have the ability to decide which projects or tasks to complete, consider doing the most difficult ones first to reduce the potential of feeling overwhelmed later in the day.
  1. Create a dedicated work space. Try to create a dedicated workspace where you can solely focus on your job. Creating specific work and home boundaries, even if you’re just using a small corner of your home, can help you mentally shift from home life to work. Get everything you need in one place, before you start work – chargers, pens, paper and anything else – and shut the door if you can. Even in a small or shared space, try to designate an area for your work. It may also help you leave your work “at the office” once you’re done with your day.
  1. Reward yourself. Make sure you don’t forget to take care of yourself. If you have a task list, cross off those tasks. That little achievement gives you a dopamine boost. Consider having a post-it note with a relevant positive affirmation to recite during the day. Take a well-deserved break  and move around a bit. This may mean walking around your home or doing some stretches during your breaks. If weather permits, try to get outside and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. This can re-energize you.
  1. And my last tip is to prioritize your sleep and practice self-care. Doing so may help you stay connected to yourself and more fully understand what you need in terms of work-life balance. Take your time figuring out how you can best take care of yourself and meet your needs.
    1. Be sure to prioritize unwinding at night and practice good sleeping habits. 
    2. Exercise regularly.
    3. Practice meditation.
    4. Do yoga.
    5. Read during your downtime.
    6. Take naps.
    7. Listen to music you enjoy.
    8. Spend time with friends.

While working from home may provide a sense of freedom and flexibility, as well as a no-cost commute, there are hidden stressors to be aware of. So remember to be kind to yourself and acknowledge that you are learning how to be productive in a new work environment. Be realistic and make sure to unplug and relax when you are done.

business management

How to Write a Newsletter That People Will Actually Open

Newsletters are a great way to stay connected with your customers and audience. They can pack a valuable punch if done right. Don’t miss out on an excellent opportunity to inform, entertain and plug a CTA. So how do you write an influential newsletter that won’t just end up in someone’s delete box or, worse, spam box? 

Here are some tips to keep in mind.

  1. Try to keep to one topic per newsletter. Newsletters read better when there is a purpose. Yes, you have all kinds of events, news, things to promote, etc., happening at all times. But, if you have a cohesive theme. Your newsletter will stand out. Try to keep each month/quarter streamlined. 
  1. Try to keep a ratio of 90% educational and 10% promotional. Newsletters need to provide value. People are going to be more inclined to open your newsletter and read it if they think they are going to learn something new. 
  1. Your subject line needs to be killer! Keep it short, keep it funny, be creative and make it different for each newsletter you send. And don’t make it spammy. Don’t include words like ACTION, OPEN NOW, ACT NOW, LIMITED TIME. People get hundreds of emails daily, and spammy comments are annoying. 
  1. Pick one Call To Action (CTA). Focus on one, don’t overwhelm the reader, or honestly, ask too much of a person’s time with having all these CTA’s bogging down the newsletter. Please keep it to one. Trust me. 
  1. Keep design and copy minimal. Newsletters can feel cluttered. You want to stay clear of that. Keep your copy concise and leave plenty of white space. Keeping the copy minimal will give your readers a taste of your content, and hopefully, they will want to learn more by heading to your website. And white space is key to keeping the look of the newsletter clutter-free. 
  1. Make sure your newsletter can be easily read on mobile devices. You know folks are catching up on email on their commute, lunch break, at the gym, etc. Make sure the design works for both desktop and mobile. So break up the copy, use bullets, use a zigzag pattern with alternating copy and pictures, and don’t forget to make the headline big and bold. 
  1. Don’t forget to make your newsletter easy to unsubscribe. Give the reader the option to unsubscribe easily; otherwise, for sure, your email is heading to the spam box! 

So now that you have some great tips on making your newsletter look good, how about a few ideas on what to include. Try adding new blogs; maybe you have a webinar coming up to promote or add the link to the webinar that just passed. Promotions, discounts, company news, testimonials, how-to-guides, phew! The options are endless. 

So go ahead, have some fun with it. Keep it tidy and informative. And let us know if you still need help writing and designing killer newsletters. We are here for you. http://www.lifebydesignvs.com

business management

4 Important Tips On How To Effectively Market Your Webinar Online

What is a webinar and why is it important for your small business? A webinar is an online event that is hosted by an organization/company and broadcasted to a select group of individuals through their computers via the Internet. 

So why is this important? 

The biggest reason is that you can provide a ton of value to your audience that videos and static marketing just can’t do. You can keep your audience engaged for hours and have interactive interactions with them through questions, answers and comments. You have the ability to reach hundreds or thousands of potential customers from all over the world, without having to leave your home or office. This is huge! This is why I think webinars are one of the highest converting forms of marketing. 

So now you know what a webinar is and why it is such an important part of marketing, let’s talk about promotion. How can you successfully promote your webinar online to get the biggest return on your investment (ROI) and make the biggest impact to your business. 

Check out these tips to drive demand and registration for your next webinar. 

Tip 1: Email, email, email. Email marketing is proven to be successful at driving up demand for your webinar. You are going to want to send out your first promotional emails 3-4 weeks prior to your webinar and increase email frequency one week before the event.

Tip 2: Be active on social media. Being active in relevant groups, engaging with your audience and commenting on posts of similar industries makes your target audience know you are involved in the conversation and conscious of the online community. So let’s run through some social platforms to get an idea of how to promote on social media. 

  • Twitter – Tweet often about your upcoming webinar and use relevant hashtags (don’t forget to pick a specific hashtag for your webinar).
  • Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn– Schedule promotions on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Be sure to use high-quality imagery, fun content, and a strong call to action (CTA).
  • Groups and Forums – We don’t want you to be spammy, but if you’re an active group member, spread the word about your upcoming webinar in relevant groups and forums.

Tip 3: Make it a regular series. A regular series can help build momentum. Your audience will most likely sign up for the whole series, rather than just one or two of your webinars. 

Tip 4: Clean up that registration page. You want a simple and engaging registration page without too many fields to fill in. Only include fields that are absolutely necessary to fill in like name and email addresses. You should also strive to include a video. Including a video can increase your chances of conversion rates enormously. And lastly, highlight the benefits. Tell your audience why they should register and what they can expect to learn/gain from attending. Just remember to keep it short; nobody likes a long registration page.

I hope these tips help you have a successful webinar. Just remember how important it is to promote it. Always keep your audience in mind while you make up your promotional strategy.

If you are interested in learning more about how we can help you plan your webinar and execute promotion please reach out here for a free consultation. 

Life By Design Virtual Solutions: Let us do the busy work so you can get back to doing what you love!

business management, sop creation

How to Prepare Your Business for Hiring a Virtual Assistant 

Previously, I have written about signs that it might be time to scale up your business (5 Signs It’s Time to Scale Up Your Small Business). Once you’ve made the decision to scale up and are ready to hire more help, there are a few things to consider to allow the most success for both your business and your new hire. 

Many small businesses choose to hire a virtual assistant rather than a salaried employee. 

What is a Virtual Assistant (VA)? A VA is generally self-employed and provides professional, administrative, technical, or creative assistance to clients remotely from a home office.  In short, a virtual assistant can help elevate things to the next level for you and your business. 

Bringing on new team members is always a bit daunting. Mistakes can happen and skills need to be learned. But, that is how to truly scale up, by creating a great team. So, how do you prepare your business for an incoming VA? Here are 4 steps to implement or consider. 

  1. Document everything and create Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s)!! 

When I say document everything, I mean document everything. Write down each task you do step-by-step and add them to your company manual or SOP. You can even make short videos explaining these tasks (we use Loom for this). Heck, you can have your new VA help with this! 

  1. Consider what you want to outsource? What can you delegate

Start with the easiest tasks you can delegate. It takes time to train, so start small. You should focus on the most important things to your business, and try to delegate the rest. There are a considerable number of tasks VA’s can do, even just starting out. Depending on what you do, of course, some options that a VA can do right away are taking calls, managing emails, and customer service. With a little guidance, VA’s can take over marketing and social media, web design and maintenance, content creation, and tons more. The list is really endless, you just need to be clear on what you want them to do and what you don’t want to do. 

  1. Think about ‘what are my expectations and how is the best way to communicate?’

Setting up your expectations from the beginning is part of any successful working relationship. Decide if you want your VA to be available a certain amount of hours per week and what those hours could look like. Do you need them to be available to handle incoming calls from 9am – 11am EST? Communicate those criteria clearly. Determine which tasks take priority over others and relay that. If you have maintenance tasks or recurring tasks, set those expectations as well.  

Speaking of communication, determine what will be the best way to keep in touch with your new VA. Decide on your preferred form of communication, along with your work hours, your availability to respond to emails, attend meetings or take phone calls. Are there other people on your team that should be included in all, or some communications? Decide on who these people are and make them aware so that they are not caught off guard by an email from your virtual assistant.

  1. And lastly, consider what resources will my VA need to be successful.

Your VA undoubtedly comes equipped with many tools and resources. Some of these may or may not work best with you and your business. Whatever tools and resources you are already using, make sure your VA has a list of them and relevant log-in information. Oftentimes you may have a task and you don’t have the tools yet. Your VA can help with that! 

With any new hire, there is prep work involved. But, if you can get some things in place before you onboard your new VA, things will be much more streamlined. Once you establish tasks, expectations, communication, and resource needs you will be on your way to upscaling your business! 

Need help with SOP’s? How about any of the services listed above? Please click here to set up a Free Discovery Call.

Uncategorized

Mindset Matters

Becoming is better than being.” Dr. Carol Dweck

At this point, everyone has heard of mindset and how a positive mindset is imperative to creating a successful business. But, recently, I have been digging deeper. I watched a TED talk by Dr. Carol Dweck about Growth Mindset. 

Dweck identifies two mindsets:

“In a fixed mindset people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success — without effort.”

and

“In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work — brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.”

Your mindset plays a critical role in how you cope with life’s challenges. This is why a growth mindset is imperative for starting and growing your business. A growth mindset is adaptable to the rapid changes in today’s business environment. 

So, do you have the traits of having a growth mindset? Here are some defining characteristics.

Self Belief

People with a growth mindset truly believe in themselves. They believe that they can overcome whatever life throws at them! Once they overcome these challenges or setbacks, they will understand why they were there. This is learning from your experiences. 

Passion for Learning

People with a growth mindset have a desire to keep learning. Their goal is to improve their knowledge as much as possible. They want to become an expert in their field or industry. At the start of a new day, you see it as a new chance to improve your knowledge and learn something new. 

Actions Counts

People who perform at their best are those who start small even though they dream big. They understand that they need a starting point, but from there they can take action. In acting and doing, the point is that they use their growth mentality to strengthen their awareness.

By doing, they can apply their knowledge and it is this conscious practice that makes them successful. To start a business or make it grow, one has to act, which can begin at any time throughout the process. 

Self-Discipline

People with a growth mindset have a different thought process than others. When it comes to being successful and getting what they want, they are aware of the fact that they have to work on it to achieve it. They have a great degree of self-discipline.

This commitment allows them to focus fully on the ultimate goal. As a result, their efforts and determination enable them to succeed and get to where they want to be. They don’t waste time proving they can, they go beyond their basic skills and find a path to success with a positive attitude. Again, they strive to always keep learning and be the best they can be!

“Individuals in a growth mindset don’t simply look for challenge, they blossom with it. The greater the challenge, the more they stretch.” K. Orient

Do you have traits of having a growth mindset? 

Uncategorized

Work Smarter, Not Harder: How to Repurpose Your Social Media Content

Do you find that coming up with fresh social media content is starting to wear thin? Trying to stay up on trends and algorithm changes can start to feel like a full-time job, amiright? While keeping up-to-date on trends IS a good idea, you can repurpose old content and make it fresh again, if you are tight on time or running out of creative juices. Here are 6 tips on how to repurpose your old content into new content. 

  1. Evergreen blogs. Certainly you have blogs that are seasonal or time specific, but you probably have blogs that can be posted no matter what month or season it is. This is referred to as “evergreen,”meaning it’s not time sensitive. That great blog you wrote in July? Why not give it another chance to have folks read it in February. You can introduce it to people who missed it the first time around. 
  2. Speaking of blogs, you can always use the content you blogged for social media posts. For example, you can pull quotes from it and put them over a graphic you have previously created, or on branded pictures from your website. You can pull captions from it also. Boom, social media content at your fingertips.
  3. Another use for a blog is to turn it into a podcast. Everyone is in the podcast game these days.  This is a no-brainer to use your blog content as audio content!
  4. Make a GIF. Do you have great, well performing videos? There are tons of free GIF maker websites out there to transform your video into a fun GIF. Give it a try!
  5. Most people have a niche and they post within that niche. You can compile a bunch of your content, graphics, surveys, and other similarities into a small E-book that your followers can download. Hint, this is a great way to compile an email database as well.
  6. Throwbacks! TBT is still a thing! Get on board, find that post from 4 years ago and see how it holds up today. You might get a laugh, and you’ll certainly get engagement! 

Repurposing content not only helps save time (and brain energy), but it also reinforces your brand.  It also gives your followers or new followers a chance to see content they might have missed the first time around or never saw because they just discovered you. And of course, repurposing also reinforces SEO.

Social media posting is very time consuming, especially across multiple platforms and certainly because the rules are constantly changing. Many small business owners (and all large business owners certainly) outsource their social media to another company, like a Virtual Assistant agency. Outsourcing social media is one way to cut the stress of keeping up with trends and worrying about keeping your content fresh. Life By Design can help. We can come up with a strategy to keep your brand at the forefront, create graphics and captions, as well as keep an eye on metrics to see what is working and what needs to be changed up.  We offer packages for every budget. Let us help you with the time consuming stuff, so you can focus on doing what you love.

organizational behavior

8 Spring Cleaning Tips for Small Businesses

Even as some cities and states across the country are still seeing snow (!!), most everyone has Spring flowers on the brain. And along with those flowers, Spring Cleaning comes to mind!  Here are 8 quick tips to get your small business tidied up for the new season.

  1. Clean out that inbox! Millions of emails are sent out every day. And even though you probably aren’t personally getting a million emails a day, they can really pile up if you aren’t keeping tabs on them. A lot of us get a bunch of spam and junk emails, which can overwhelm your inbox and cause you to miss more important emails. I promise you will feel so light and free once that inbox gets sorted!
  1. Review your goals. Spring is a time of renewal, a fresh start. It is the perfect time to review your business goals. You can reassess your goals for the year, determine if your routine is working and take another look at your business plan to ensure you’re still on track for the year. Now is a good time to make any adjustments to things that just aren’t working for your business. 
  1. Clean up your website. If you are like me, then your website to-do list has been gathering dust. Now is a good time to make those edits, swap out those graphics and update your online portfolio. 
  1. Update your social media profiles. Check out your profile pictures and bio. Do they need freshening up? Are they still a good reflection of your brand? Now is a great time to make those adjustments. 
  1. Review your business plan. Once a year is a good standard for reviewing your business plan. In order for your company to grow you need to have a good solid foundation of a business plan, and that means tweaking and adjusting as you grow and change. 
  1. Give your clients a review too! Renew, refresh! This goes for clients as well. Organize your contact list into current clients and leads. Then assess the client list. Are they a good fit for your company? Do they pay their bills on time? Can you see your company growing with these clients? This will also put you in the mindset to think about what clients you want to attract moving forward and which you would like to steer clear of. 
  1. Upgrade! If your budget allows you to, this might be a good time to upgrade some of your free versions of software into versions with more functions. Upgrading can improve your business’s workflow and efficiency and ultimately, profits. I’ll throw this tip in here too, make sure you are updating all your programs too! Otherwise you may be vulnerable to viruses.
  1. And lastly, give your actual office/workspace a proper clean. Disinfect and clean your electronics, and desk. Ditch all the junk paper mail and receipts you have been collecting (even better, go paperless!!). And maybe throw in a nice plant or flowers for added freshness. 

Get to it! And as always, please reach out to our team at Life By Design Virtual Solutions if you need help with organization, project management, administration and more.  We can help your small business get organized and systemized! 

Uncategorized

The Importance of Email Marketing

Email marketing is a cost-effective direct marketing strategy used to create connections with your customers and audience through email campaigns. Emails can be promotional, informational, or serve a specific purpose. Email marketing campaigns are usually sent out to a large contact list that has subscribed to receive promotional emails from your business. You can use email marketing to promote deals, updates on your business, call to action, etc. While many may think that social media is the only relevant digital marketing tool these days, email marketing has not lost its relevance and effectiveness. 

According to Sendinblue: 

  • In 2020, there were over 4 billion global email users. 
  • 80% of Americans check their email at least once per day, with nearly a quarter of them checking their personal email several times a day.
  • 62% of consumers ranked email as their top preferred communication channel with small businesses. 

Through email marketing, you can stay in contact with your audience, build brand awareness, gain valuable customer data for more intentional and meaningful customer touchpoints, create personal experiences, and get the highest ROIs. 

To create the best email marketing strategy, we suggest following these steps: 

  • Set email marketing goals
  • Pick the necessary email marketing tools
  • Determine the target audience
  • Identify the appropriate list building tactics
  • Divide your mailing list into segments
  • Identify the types of emails to send
  • Create a schedule for sending emails
  • Format the email content
  • Optimize your emails
  • Conduct split-testing
  • Monitor email performance reports

Email is the most prominent form of communication and practically everyone with internet access has email. It has never been easier for you to get in touch with your consumer base in real time. Taking advantage of this affordable tool can boost awareness for your business and help you grow your community. Not only can your customers receive info about discounts, specials, new products, and more, they can share and forward those emails to anyone they’d like and grow your business by word of mouth. 

If you’re looking to optimize your email marketing strategy or you’re ready to start utilizing this tool for your small business, our team of Virtual Assistants can help you with this process. Our VA’s have experience in various platforms of email marketing campaigns and can design and automate all of your emails to your list of contacts. 

Check out our email marketing packages here → https://lifebydesignvs.com/services/ We have options for every budget. 

Sources:

business management

Women’s History Month: Celebrating Women in Business

“A confident woman, a woman who truly knows her worth and her power, is a force to be reckoned with.”

– Mandy Hale.

We, at Life By Design Virtual Solutions, a proud, woman-owned and women-run business. So, it’s only fitting to highlight that March is Women’s History Month.

Since 1987, we have honored women during the month of March for the contributions they have made toward history, culture, and society. We are honored to recognize those who have successfully challenged the discrimination women face as entrepreneurs and as members of the paid labor force.  Women have always worked hard, but often their work has been undervalued and underpaid. Times have changed. 

Women entrepreneurs challenge the discrepancies that women face in the labor force every day by driving innovation and technology and placing small businesses on a global competitive playing field. Now that is something to celebrate!

Women-owned businesses employ 9.4 million people in the US according to Business Wire publication ( shorturl.at/hnvT1 ). That is 13 million new businesses and 9.4 million employees! Incredible! This means that women are fueling the economy and the economic impact is undeniable. According to CNBC (shorturl.at/swzPR), women-owned businesses generate an annual revenue of $1.9 trillion. There is no doubt that women-owned companies are performing better than they have at any other time in U.S. business history. Exciting News!

The number of women-owned businesses has increased by almost 3,000% in the period 1972–2018 (shorturl.at/bcxFS). It’s important to mention that women-owned and minority-owned businesses were only tracked starting in the year 1972, but this new data shows not only the remarkable impact women entrepreneurs have on our economy when it comes to creating jobs and generating revenue, but also the growing role of women-owned businesses in our communities. 

As Michele Obama says, 

“No country can ever truly flourish if it stifles the potential of its women and deprives itself of the contributions of half of its citizens.” 

The US ranked one of the top global powerhouses for female entrepreneurship according to CNBC (shorturl.at/vACFP). The global pandemic has affected women in business at disproportionate levels. This has led women business founders to look for new ways of working, including tapping into new business opportunities and switching up existing models, like going digital. 

One of the reasons women are leading the pack in new business, is the way they are approaching how to actually run a business. Many women are putting a focus on work-life balance, respect, collaboration and compassion for their employees.  The Future is Female. There is no looking back. 

“Success isn’t about how much money you make, it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.”

– Michelle Obama.