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How Much is Your Time Really Worth?

You have a vision for business growth, and a plan to get there, but are you spending your time wisely to keep on track toward achieving your business goals? As a business professional you already know that time is a precious and valuable commodity. There are only so many hours in a day, and a portion of those available hours are worth money. 

What is the value of your time?  $50/hour?  $75/hour?  $100/hour?  More?  How many hours a day are you billing your hourly rate for time spent doing client work?  How many hours a day are you working on the business-related tasks that need to get done, but are not billable? How many hours a day are left for leisure and family time?  Do the math.   Does the number you get align with your business goals? 

Let’s consider this scenario.  Let’s say your hourly rate is $100/hour.  If you spend 2 hours a day at $100/hour on billable client work, and spend 2 hours a day on the necessary, but non-billable administrative tasks, then you’ve worked 4 hours for $200 which reduces your hourly rate to $50/hour.  Here’s another scenario.  If you delegate those 2 hours of non-billable administrative time to a Virtual Assistant at $30/hour, and devote those extra 2 hours you now have available on additional billable client work, then you’ve now worked 4 hours for $400, which keeps your hourly rate the same at $100/hour.  Even after deducting the $60 expense paid to your Virtual Assistant (which is tax deductible by the way), you still come out ahead and earned $340 for the day.  In the first scenario, you only earned $200 for the day, which means you lost $140 that you could have earned if you didn’t spend your time on the administrative work.  And let’s face it, do you really want to be spending your time doing administrative work? 

There’s a lot you of other things you could do with an extra 2 hours a day.  You could catch up on your reading.  You could take some time to relax and recharge.  You could work on a new project or business idea.  You could attend more networking events to nurture relationships with prospects and find new clients.   All of these things may not be billable, but they are critical to your business success.  Having the time to do them will help you increase your income over time, and help you find the work-life balance you need to keep yourself from burning out.  

The moral of the story is…..spending your own time working on the non-billable, routine but necessary administrative tasks that need to be done to keep your business running smoothly leaves you with less time to spend on the tasks that will generate income or help you grow your business to the next level.  Sure, you want to save money by doing everything yourself, but let’s face it….that’s not always the best use of your time and actually it can be counter-productive in the long run!   And are you really saving money by doing everything yourself?  When you work from your core strengths, and delegate the tasks you don’t have expertise in to someone else, and you focus on doing the tasks that you enjoy, or only you can do in your business, you strategically place yourself in a much better position to reach your goals. 

Wouldn’t it be great if you could buy more time in your day and leverage those available hours to increase your income? Well, you can when you team up with a Virtual Assistant!  By outsourcing you will not only make more money, but you will have more opportunity to reach your goals faster than you would if you continue to try to do everything yourself.

Savvy business owners know you have to “spend money to make money”.  Leveraging your time by hiring experts to do the work that is keeping you from focusing on doing what you do best — making more money and growing your business — is not just good business sense, but it’s a smart investment in the continued success of your business.

How do you spend your time each day?   Leave me a comment and share what a typical day looks like for you.  I’d love to hear from you.

  Author bio: Lisa Salem is a professional Virtual Executive Assistant,  Virtual Sales and Marketing Assistant, and Virtual Transcriptionist.  Lisa is the Founder and Managing Member of Monarch Virtual Assistance LLC,  and brings over 30 years of administrative and business management experience to her business and the clients she partners with. Lisa works to promote the Virtual Assistance industry and to make it stand out as a true profession of excellence. Lisa loves helping her clients build successful businesses by taking the administrative tasks off their “to do” list so they can have more time to focus on the core business priorities that will generate income and accelerate business growth. Her style is easy going, yet focused, with emphasis placed on going the extra mile to exceed clients expectations by providing quality service, excellent value, and total satisfaction to ensure long-term dedication, loyalty, and results.

©2010.  Would you like to republish this article? You are free to do so as long as you include a link back to the full post, attributing the author, Lisa Salem of Monarch Virtual Assistance LLC.

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Posted by on November 1, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

Delegation is a Key Ingredient to Business Success

 

I’ve been inspired to write this post by a new business prospect I met recently. She is lovely woman who is a perfect example of someone who really could benefit from working with a Virtual Assistant, but she says she doesn’t know how she can afford one.  Her comment to me was, “I love the idea of working with a Virtual Assistant.  I am really struggling in my business financially because I am too bogged down with all the things I have to do, that I am not doing what I should be doing to grow my business, and am just trying to keep things afloat…I am resolved to get myself back on track and do whatever it takes to move forward…If I can get help, I can make more money but I can’t get help because I do not have the money.”

Her words really hit me because this is exactly the reason why I ventured out on my own to start a Virtual Assistant practice. There are so many small business owners and independent professionals in this exact situation who really need someone to help them in their business to get them off the “spinning wheel” so they can move forward, but they feel they are in a “catch-22” situation. The truth is, when you are in business for yourself, you can’t afford NOT to seek the help you need to maximize your time so you can move forward!

As a fellow business owner, I know that it is hard right now to feel comfortable spending your hard-earned (and hard TO earn) money these days, while the economy is still trying to recover. It’s easy to get into the mindset of “It will be faster and cheaper just for me to do it myself”. I’ve also heard prospective clients say “I have no idea what to delegate”, or “I don’t have the time to delegate.” If you don’t want the hassle, expense or responsibilityof hiring, managing, and maintaining a part-time or full-time employee, but you know you just can’t keep spinning your wheels trying to do everything yourself, partnering with a Virtual Assistant may be the ideal solution!

Working with a Virtual Assistant will give you the flexibility you need to fit your needs and budget.  My suggestion is to start with small tasks or projects to keep it affordable. What are the things you would love to get off your “To Do” list? Figure out what your strengths are. What do you like doing versus what you don’t like doing, or don’t have the expertise, time, or desire to be doing. Think of where you can contribute to your business in the best way possible to make it the most successful. Focus on your core business expertise and responsibilities that only you can do, and start delegating the rest. Think about everything you do in your business on a day to day basis. Write it down. Then separate the tasks on your list that you are good at and like to do from the things on your list that someone else with the expertise, time, and knowledge could do for you.

Ask yourself this question, what is my time worth vs. what it would cost to pay someone else to assist me with the tasks I do not need to be spending my own time doing? If your time is worth say, $75 – $100/hour, is spending your time doing the non-billable administrative work going to increase your income?  I think not.  Wouldn’t it make sense to delegate the administrative side of your business to someone else who has the time and expertise to handle the details for you so you can spend your valuable time developing new business and working on billable work that will grow you business and increase your bottom line? I would think so! 

I have a client who really loves networking, being out there in front of people, talking to them, and building relationships.  He’s a true business builder and master networker.  However, he doesn’t have the time or desire to spend every day back at his office entering the business cards he collects into his contacts database, sending nice to meet you cards, following up on sending out information about his business that he promised to send, or “keeping in touch” with his contacts to continue to nurture the relationships.  So his business wasn’t growing as fast as he wanted it to.  So he delegated these tasks to me. Now, his contacts database is always current, his customers appreciate his prompt response to their requests for information, and both clients and prospects are thrilled that he takes the time to follow up and keep in touch with them.  Whether it’s a greeting card for a special occasion, or a short email to tell them about an upcoming event they may be interested in, or a new promotion, product, or service announcement, or an article we saw that we thought would be of interest to them, or simply to invite them to coffee!

The result….we have formed a team, he plants the seeds and starts the relationship building process, I keep in touch with them to help nurture the relationship, people remember him, like him, and trust him, and when they or someone they know need his products and services, he’s the first one they think of.  He’s not only building relationships, but he’s gaining customer loyalty and growing his business.  It’s truly a win-win situation.

I know that as entrepreneurs and small business owners, we like to do it all because we don’t think we can “afford” to spend the money to delegate to a Virtual Assistant – but the reality is, it does not make good business sense to keep “spinning your wheels”, when there’s a better solution. 

If you want to learn more about how Monarch Virtual Assistance LLC can help you maximize your time and help you grow your business, call me or email me to set up a complimentary, no obligation consultation to discuss your administrative needs in more detail.

I would also welcome your comments about what you are doing currently in your business to keep in touch with clients and prospects and learn from you what has worked and what hasn’t in the past.

Author bio: Lisa Salem is a professional Virtual Executive Assistant,  Virtual Sales and Marketing Assistant, and Virtual Transcriptionist.  Lisa is the Founder and Managing Member of Monarch Virtual Assistance LLC,  and brings over 30 years of administrative and business management experience to her business and the clients she partners with. Lisa works to promote the Virtual Assistance industry and to make it stand out as a true profession of excellence. Lisa loves helping her clients build successful businesses by taking the administrative tasks off their “to do” list so they can have more time to focus on the core business priorities that will generate income and accelerate business growth. Her style is easy going, yet focused, with emphasis placed on going the extra mile to exceed clients expectations by providing quality service, excellent value, and total satisfaction to ensure long-term dedication, loyalty, and results.

©2010.  Would you like to republish this article? You are free to do so as long as you include a link back to the full post, attributing the author, Lisa Salem of Monarch Virtual Assistance LLC.

 

7 Steps to Networking Success

I’ve been doing a lot of networking since starting my business. I typically attend three or more networking events every month, and sometimes more if I can fit it into my schedule!  I meet all types of business professionals, small business owners, and sales people. I’ve found that what makes me stand out from all the other people who are networking is I use the relationship marketing approach and follow up with each person I meet.   I created a follow up process that is cost-effective and doesn’t take up a lot of my time.  Here is what I do:

  1. When I get back to my office, or within 24 hours, I add each business card I received to my contacts management system, and mail each person a “nice to meet you” greeting card. (I use my Send Out Cards System to save time, which prints a personalized handwritten card, addresses the envelope, adds the postage, and mails it out for me, and an Excel Spreadsheet to keep track of my contact activity to stay organized).
  2. I mark my calendar to phone each new contact within one week to invite them to meet me for a cup of coffee or schedule a time that would be convenient for them to chat via phone for about 15 or 30 minutes to learn more about their business and how we might be able to help each other.
  3. I then add the contact to my social media platforms (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc.)
  4. If I was unable to connect with them the first week, I send them an email the second week to follow up on my invite, and attempt to connect again.
  5. If a successful connection is made, after the meeting, I mail a thank you greeting card within 24 hours.
  6. I make it a point, after a meeting with any new contact, to try and give them a referral within 30 days.  I am not always successful in my efforts, but ideally I would like to make this happen each time.
  7. I then add the contact to my Nurture Marketing Program, which is a 6-12 month program designed to stay in touch with prospects every 30 days, whether it’s sending them a postcard or letter introducing a service idea, an article or news clipping that I think they might be interested in reading, an email with a link to a new blog post I wrote, or a phone call to see how business is doing and see if there is anything I can do to help.

The idea is to do anything that keeps you in front of your prospects on a consistent basis to build a relationship — and it should be something your prospects would find of value. Remember, people like to do business with people they know, like, and trust.  Keep in mind whether you attend one networking event a day, or one every two months, having a simple follow up system in place and using it on a consistent basis, will dramatically improve your networking results.

If you want to learn more about how to set up a follow up system for your business, or  need help implementing and maintaining your existing one, call me or email me to set up a complimentary consultation.

I would also welcome your comments about what you are doing currently in your business to keep in touch with clients and prospects and learn from you what has worked and what hasn’t in the past.

Author bio: Lisa Salem is a Professional Executive Virtual Assistant,  Nurture Marketing Virtual Assistant, and experienced Transcription Virtual Assistant.  As the President and Managing Member of Monarch Virtual Assistance LLC,  she has over 30 years of administrative and business management experience. Lisa works to promote the Virtual Assistance industry and to make it stand out as a true profession of excellence. Lisa loves helping her clients build successful businesses by taking the administrative tasks off their “to do” list so they can have more time to focus on the core business priorities that will generate income and accelerate business growth. Her style is easy going, yet focused, with emphasis placed on going the extra mile to exceed clients expectations by providing quality service, excellent value, and total satisfaction to ensure long-term dedication, loyalty, and results.

©2010.  Would you like to republish this article? You are free to do so as long as you include a link back to the full post, attributing the author, Lisa Salem of Monarch Virtual Assistance LLC.

 

A Virtual Assistant is NOT an Employee

Many people are confused about what a Virtual Assistant is and isn’t.  Many think that a Virtual Assistant is an employee who works from home, no, that’s a Telecommuter.  Others think that a Virtual Assistant is someone who is looking for a job, but can’t find one, so they are just seeking to find administrative work they can do from home to make money in the meantime …no, that’s a Freelancer.  Still others think that a Virtual Assistant is equivalent to a temporary employee….no, a Virtual Assistant is not an employee at all!

What is a Virtual Assistant (or VA)?

A Virtual Assistant is a highly-skilled, experienced administrative professional, turned entrepreneur, who provides a wide range of administrative and business support services, typically to other business owners, entrepreneurs, and busy professionals.

Yes, it is true, many Virtual Assistants do provide administrative support and can handle almost any task that an on-site administrative employee could handle, but unlike an employee, a Virtual Assistant isn’t just working at a “job” in an administrative position for an employer or “boss”.   On the contrary, she is a business owner running a business who’s product or service involves providing administrative support services to clients who retain her to work with them.

A Virtual Assistant is technology-savvy and creative.  She is able to support and communicate with her clients remotely from her own fully-equipped office through the use of a variety of modern technology and communication media, such as fax, Internet, Email, Telephone, Instant Messaging, Text Messaging, Flash Drive file transfer, Cassette Tapes, Digital Audio Files, Overnight Mail Services, Snail Mail, Courier, Online File Sharing Tools, Collaboration Software, Remote Computer Access, and other Internet-based software, tools, and services.

A Virtual Assistant works one on one with her clients in an on-going business relationship.  This is the foundation of Virtual Assistance.  She typically works with a small clientele to allow her to provide the client with personalized attention and to get to know and understand the client’s work style, how his business works, and what his goals are.  By working with the client on a continuous basis for the long term, she becomes familiar with the Client’s support needs, which helps her to better service him and become a valuable resource and partner in his success.  She adds value to the relationship by representing the client and his business in the best possible light to create a professional image in the eyes of the client’s own clients and business prospects.  As a business owner herself, she has a vested interest in helping the client succeed and goes the extra mile to provide exceptional customer service because her success depends on the client’s success and total overall satisfaction.

A Virtual Assistant’s purpose is to help the client lighten his workload, streamline his business processes, maximize his productivity, enhance his profitability, optimize his time, and provide solutions to help make his busy life easier.  The Client/VA relationship is meant to be the foundation of an effective team that enhances the client’s business and helps him create a better work/life balance.

What a Virtual Assistant is NOT

A Virtual Assistant is neither an employee nor a subordinate.  She is a self-employed business owner and service provider who’s status is that of an independent contractor or vendor, which means she is responsible for paying her own employment and business-related taxes, insurance, benefits, and overhead expenses.  She works for herself and is on an equal level as the client.  She doesn’t work “for” her clients, she works “with” them to form an on-going, collaborative-style business partnership.  The Client-VA relationship resembles the relationship one would engage in with their Accountant, their Attorney, their Business Coach, or a Consultant who is helping them in their business to take care of certain things.

A Virtual Assistant is not paid a fixed salary at an hourly rate chosen by the Client,  like an employee would receive or work for.  She charges a professional fee for services rendered at a pre-determined rate set by her, which is based on her level of experience, knowledge, skill set, the overall value she creates for the client, and the costs involved in running her business in order to bring her services to her clients — much like an Accountant, Doctor, Lawyer, Consultant, or professional Business Coach would charge a professional fee for their services.

A Virtual Assistant is not a decision maker for the client’s business, nor is she responsible for establishing goals and strategies for the client’s business, although she may assist the client with these things.  She is the client’s right-hand and often times becomes the client’s sounding board or brainstorming partner.

Are you still confused about what a Virtual Assistant is and isn’t?  I’d love to hear from you on the subject and your experience working with a Virtual Assistant.

Author bio: Lisa Salem is a Professional Executive Virtual Assistant,  Marketing Virtual Assistant, and experienced Transcriptionist. As the President and Managing Member of Monarch Virtual Assistance LLC,  she has over 30 years of administrative and business management experience. Lisa works to promote the Virtual Assistance industry and to make it stand out as a true profession of excellence. Her style is easy going, yet focused, with emphasis placed on going the extra mile to exceed clients expectations by providing quality service, excellent value, and total satisfaction to ensure long-term dedication, loyalty, and results.
©2010.  Would you like to republish this article? You are free to do so as long as you include a link back to the full post, attributing the author, Lisa Salem of Monarch Virtual Assistance LLC.

 

Have you tried Google docs yet?

Have you checked out this great collaboration tool called Google docs?

It allows you to:

  1. Upload any file – upload, store and share any file, stored in its original format and downloadable anywhere
  2. Shared folders – share a group of docs with anyone by sharing an entire folder with them
  3. Email as an attachment – using the Share button, email your Google Spreadsheets workbook as an attachment in .xls, .csv, .ods, .pdf and other formats
  4. DOCX import – import Word 2007 files (.docx) into Google Docs

If you work remotely with your Virtual Executive Assistant,  other members of your team, or with clients, this is a great tool to use to share and store documents you use regularly or are working on together in one central place.  Many companies are even using this tool exclusively without spending money on document software.

Check it out at: http://www.google.com/google-d-s/whatsnew.html

Lisa Salem, Virtual Administrative Specialist at Monarch Virtual Assistance LLC

 

What’s with the Name?

A lot of people have asked me how I came up with the name of my business — Monarch Virtual Assistance LLC.   I thought I would share with you my  story behind the name . . .

My original inspiration came from my Dad.  He worked as a Chef at the now-historical Monarch Diner. When I was growing up, I spent many days at the diner; after school, I would walk to the diner, and spend the rest of the afternoon sitting on the sugar barrel in the  kitchen, waiting for my mom to get out of work to pick me up.  Sometimes I would even help the wait staff fill the sugar bowls in the dining room or help “grandpa Jack” ring up a sale at the cash register.  And who could ever forget those fried New England scallops and crispy french fries, with creamy homemade coleslaw.  Yes…my childhood was filled with many great memories of that diner, and so I dedicated the naming of my business in memory of my Dad.

The second reason I chose Monarch Virtual Assistance was because I love butterflies, and the Monarch butterfly is one of my favorites. To me, the butterfly is a symbolism for change, freedom, rebirth, transformation, growth, new beginnings, good luck, beauty, and joy. I also believe it represents courage because one requires courage to carry out or go through the process of change. All of these things remind me of the Virtual Assistance concept and how partnering with a Virtual Assistant can make a difference in your business and personal life. I thought it was appropriate to name the business Monarch to represent the profession that I have a great passion for. It’s a metaphor of sorts….

There are five stages of the evolution of the butterfly and I believe these stages parallel the development of our dreams, goals, and realities from thought to manifestation.

The Evolution of the Butterfly

  • The egg stage is the beginning of all things. This is the stage at which an idea, concept, product, or desire is conceived, but has not yet become a reality.
  • The larva stage is the point at which you decide to create the idea in the physical world. In this stage you make a decision to learn more about it. You send for information; you speak to people who are in that field. You are beginning to build a foundation for your idea to become a reality.
  • The cocoon stage involves “going within”; developing your project, idea, or product, and preparing for its “birth”. This is the stage where any fears you have will surface and you must find the courage to address them and decide to move through them.
  • The transformation stage is the leaving of the chrysalis (cocoon). This is the stage where your idea, concept, product, or desire is born into reality.
  • The final stage is the butterfly stage. In this stage your idea, concept, product, or desire is set free and you start sharing the colors and joy of your creation with the world.

Virtual Assistance

  • Change – Letting go of doing it all yourself; embracing a new way to get things done.
  • Freedom – Having time to work ON your business, not IN it; enjoying your life more.
  • Rebirth – Taking your business to the next level.
  • Transformation – Adjusting to working differently; learning to delegate.
  • Growth – Expanding your business; increasing your income; letting go of status quo.
  • New Beginnings – Pursuing new business opportunities; time for networking
  • Good Luck – A light at the end of the tunnel; a solution; a partner in your success.
  • Beauty/Joy – Experiencing less stress, a better work/life balance, peace of mind.
  • Courage – Going through the process of change; thinking outside the box.

So there you have it….the story behind the name!   I would love to hear from others about how they chose their business name.  If you would like to share, please feel free to post a comment and tell your “story behind your business name”.

Until next time,

Lisa

 

Time Flies by so Quickly

Wow…I can’t believe how time flies by so quickly!  Yesterday I was reminiscing and shared my story about how I started my Virtual Assistance journey and today I realized that I am now 3 months into my Virtual Training Program at AssistU (www.assistu.com)!

Next week starts week 15 (out of 19 weeks).  I’ve learned so much about being a Virtual Assistant, about being a business owner, and about myself as a person.  The program is very rigorous and more in-depth than I ever imagined, but I have no regrets.   It has lived up to it’s promise to be one of the  best Virtual Training Programs for sure.  Some days I feel overwhelmed and overloaded by all the information and homework, but I’m truly enjoying the program and meeting the great people who are part of the AssistU community.  I know that when I complete the program I’ll be completely prepared and ready to begin myVirtual Assistance practice and start living my dream finally!

I’ve spent the last few weeks writing my business plan (a homework project!), setting myself up on social media sites, networking, and learning about blogging! It’s been an exciting journey and I’m looking forward to the future.

Meanwhile, summer is over and autumn in Florida is beyond awesome.  The weather is absolutely beautiful; not too hot and never cold!  Although I could do without the thunder and lightening storms that come through this time of year, and always keep my fingers crossed and say a prayer that we don’t get any hurricanes, it’s still my favorite time of year.  I must admit that I do miss the Autumn colors of New England, which are all my favorite colors.  I am in the process of building my website with all my favorite colors so I won’t have to miss them too much!  I can’t wait to share it with you soon!

Until next time, have fun, stay healthy, take time for yourself, and remember, don’t just dream about the life you want to live, take action to make it a reality, and start living the life of  your dreams!