Friday, July 23, 2010

CEO or Small Business Owner - Is there a difference?

There are many elements required to ensure the success of a CEO; however, two key elements that come to mind are:

• knowledge of industry, products and services, and
• access to a team of highly qualified individuals.

Having a background providing Personal Assistant support to CEO level has made me realize how much a CEO relies on their Personal Assistant as well as other members of their team. This made me think: what is different about the small to medium business owner/manager?

The main difference is that small business owners don't have the same resources available to them that a big business CEO does. Common threads of thought among many small business owners are:

• I'm not a CEO – why would I need a support team?
• I feel it is best if I do it myself.
• It will take me too long to train someone to do things the way I like them done and I can't spend the time on this.
• I don't have the resources for a support team.
• I don't want to worry about whether or not I'm up to standard with leave entitlements, superannuation and insurance required for team members.
• It's too hard to put a new team member in place and I can't afford the time to do so.
• I wouldn’t know where to begin.

I’m sure you will agree that these belief systems are limiting. What makes a small to medium business owner different from a CEO? Other than the size of the budget you have to work with, really nothing. Just like a CEO in big business, the small to medium business owner has (among other things):

• knowledge and expertise within their industry
• knowledge of their business and business goals
• responsibility for attaining business goals and targets
• control over setting/changing goals and targets
• responsibility for ensuring an increase in the bottom line from year to year
• accountability for targets met/not met.

Following is some food for thought for the small to medium business owner:

Q: Could you imagine the CEO of a big business designing and typing up the company's Annual Report?
A: In my experience, the CEO only writes the 'Directors’ Report' or 'CEO Report' and in one of my corporate positions, I actually wrote this for my CEO. The creation, formatting, design and organization of printing, production and distribution would fall to the Personal Assistant.

Q: Would the CEO organize the company's AGM or other events?
A: This task would fall to the Personal Assistant or administration team to handle and ensure that all aspects of the event (i.e. venue, catering, invitations/notices, marketing etc.) were completed.

Q: Could you imagine the CEO typing their own correspondence or reports, designing templates and forms, creating their own presentations, handling their company's social media marketing or troubleshooting IT issues?
A: Simply put, no. There are team members available who specialise in areas such as: copywriting, IT, HR, marketing and design (to name a few).

Q: Does the fact that the CEO wouldn't consider doing these tasks make them lazy?
A: Of course not! Firstly, most CEOs wouldn’t have the expertise and completing these tasks would take far more time than leaving it to an expert in their team. But, more importantly, taking care of the multitude of tasks that their team can handle would not be the best use of their time. The CEO’s time is much better spent on core business issues that require their expertise and knowledge–tasks that build the business.

I ask again ... how does the small to medium business owner differ from a CEO? The answer is: you don’t. You still need to make the most of every second you have. It is imperative to the success of your business to spend your time on core business requiring your expertise and knowledge and concentrating on building your business.

So, how do you address the issues, discussed above, that many small to medium business owners face? The solution lies in partnering with a Virtual Assistant.

Consider how partnering with a Virtual Assistant will impact your bottom line, when you look at these benefits:

• free up time in your day to focus on core business and building your business
• no office space, hardware or software required
• no training required when you partner with a VA Certified Virtual Assistant
• no superannuation, income tax, leave entitlements or insurance to worry about.

You may not carry the title 'CEO' but you ARE the CEO in YOUR business. Your time is just as important as a CEO’s in the top 100 companies. The question is: do you value it as such?

Often, small to medium business owners have built their business up from nothing and letting go of control is difficult to do. It is in your best interests and in the interests of your business to partner with team members who are highly qualified and certified to ensure you receive the results you deserve. When partnering with a VA Certified Virtual Assistant, you can be sure you are partnering with a highly skilled professional who will require little or no training. Often, your Virtual Assistant can teach you something new.

As an independent contractor, you will only pay your Virtual Assistant for time spent on the project or a monthly retainer fee and perhaps some incidental costs (i.e. envelopes, printing and postage for a mailout) that you would incur if you did the job yourself.

Where do you start?

Engaging a Virtual Assistant is designed to be a hassle free process. To find out more, take a look at our recent article answering the question of how to engage a Virtual Assistant. This article will give you a good idea of where to start.

As the CEO of your business, why not consider building your team today to ensure your success. I’d like to invite you to continue reading about how one ‘CEO’ in small business found partnering with Online Personal Assistants.

“Before we began working together I lacked time to complete all necessary tasks. Also, my weak technical/computer skills meant I was slow to complete some tasks and other tasks I couldn’t complete due to a combination of both of these issues. After working with you I started doing my newsletter again on a regular basis. My last workshop was a joy and a pleasure and also financially successful because I was not exhausted and stressed. You took the pressure off by attending to tasks I didn’t have time for but which were essential to the success of the workshop. I now have peace of mind knowing I can make plans now and develop systems that I couldn’t do before left to my own devices. Further value is gained by your proactive approach and your office and business experience means you make suggestions as to what I could or should do that I was not even aware of. You are a legend and an answer to a prayer.” ~ Marlene Rattigan, ‘CEO’ of Kidz-Fiz-Biz

Thursday, July 22, 2010

How to Boost Your Confidence and be Successful in any Situation | An Event Review

Did you know that 68% of people lack confidence in their workplace? I’m sure you would agree that is quite a number. Are you one of those 68%? If so, I’m sure you often wonder what the difference is between people who ‘have that job’ and people who ‘struggle at work and life’.

Take a moment to ponder on where you are in life now. Are you:

* Procrastinating?
* Lacking motivation?
* Stressed or overwhelmed?
* Afraid of public speaking?
* Frightened of new responsibilities? Exams? Interviews?

Reflect on where you are now and where you would like to be in say, five years from now. Ask yourself, ‘On a scale of 1 to 10 where would I like to be?’

The areas of life we should look at include:

* Career
* Health & Wellbeing
* Finance & Wealth
* Family & Fun

A lot of us have certain barriers that hold us back. Often we have a lack of confidence where we question whether or not we deserve the success we would like to achieve. A second barrier is fear of failure – hoping that we passed that exam, that we didn’t disappoint our boss and we often say to ourselves, “I can’t do this” instead of “I can do this, no worries”. Our limiting beliefs and attitudes determine whether we can or can’t attain the success that we would like. A third barrier is perfectionism. Often we don’t start a project or on the path to our goals because everything is ‘not perfect’ or ‘just not right’. Rather we should choose to say “I’m as good as I can be”. Remember, nothing is ever perfect.

A model of what successful people do includes:

* Values & beliefs
* Tools & mindset
* Role model
* Feedback

Often it is important to understand what our values and beliefs actually are and what motivates us and drives us in life. Once we understand this, we can gather the tools and create the mindset that will lead us to success.

When it comes to feedback, many think it is criticism. The age-old term ‘constructive criticism’ is a myth. There is no constructive criticism as the word criticism, being a negative word, immediately causes us to put up our defenses. Rather, feedback is something we can receive, take on board and learn from. When we think of successful people such as Richard Branson, many do not realize that he experienced many ‘failures’ before becoming successful. How did he overcome these failures to move forward? He had the right belief and mindset – that is, “I can do it”.

Here are seven key steps to boost your confidence.

1. Clarify what you want – have a clear goal in mind.
2. Take responsibility – only you have the power to change your own situation and create your own successes.
3. Rethink ‘failure’ – take on board where you may have suffered a setback, learn from this and do things differently the next time.
4. Take more risk (comfort zone & self belief) – coming out of your comfort zone is where you will learn the most. When you do come out of your comfort zone, remember to reward yourself and celebrate your successes.
5. Set boundaries & recover faster – learn to say ‘no’ and believe that it is OK to say ‘no’. Also, shorten the period of time it takes you to recover from setbacks. Acknowledge the challenge or issue, learn from it and move on. Don’t hold on to things for too long.
6. Watch your internal voice – learn to make this voice your friend to ensure that it doesn’t sabotage what you are looking to achieve.
7. Take action – when you recognize the need for change, take the action. Remember, you are the only one who can control your successes.

Remember, work like money doesn’t matter, sing as if no one is listening, love as if you’ve never been hurt & dance as if no one is watching!

This article is a review of a presentation by Heike Fowler at the Australian Institute of Office Professionals WA Division June 2010 Dinner. Many thanks to Heike for sharing these tips for all of us to go and put into action in order to be successful in any area of life. If you would like to know more about Heike and the services she offers, please visit Heike’s website or watch her videos.

The Importance of Feedback and How a Virtual Assistant Can Help

Do you ask your clients for testimonials and feedback? Why is feedback important? How do you make it easy for your clients to tell you what they think of you?

When recently working with a small business providing a trade service to commercial builders, we were putting together a Letter of Introduction for the client to reach out to potential clients. At the end of this letter, the business owner had listed a number of references for the prospect to call if the prospect chose to take the time to find out more about the service the client provides.

On suggesting attaching a flyer full of testimonials, the client indicated that they didn’t have any ‘testimonials’ as such, just a lot of clients who would recommend them in a heartbeat!

The client had never asked for feedback or a testimonial from any of the businesses they currently service but this was an extremely easy process to put into place. There are many ways to ask your client base for testimonials and it is a MUST! Once you have these, you can put them on your website and any other promotional or marketing material that you create. Testimonials make it easy for a prospect to see what others say about you.

So, what did we do? In this instance, as the business doesn’t yet have a website, they opted to create a ‘Feedback Form’ to e-mail to their clients. How did we make this easy? We created a form so that the client only had to complete the form and email it back. This didn’t take long to create and the client now has testimonials to send to prospects.

I am an avid feedback and testimonial provider as I believe that if a service is great, I want others to know about it. I must admit though, when writing this article, I thought of the businesses and services I have used recently and there are a number of them that I haven’t given feedback to simply because I have become busy and forgotten. How many of your clients may need a reminder or prompt to give you some feedback?

So, why not make it easy for them? There are a number of ways to make it easy for your clients to leave feedback for you. Here are a few ideas:

* Create a form (Word or PDF) and systematically send this out to clients to ask for feedback to better your service and ask for a testimonial.
* Connect with your clients on Linked In and ask for a recommendation.
* Create a link on your website to an online feedback form created through a Survey Provider such as Survey Monkey or Poll Daddy or through your current Email Marketing Provider such as Constant Contact who also do Survey Marketing.

The beauty of creating a form rather than just sending an email and requesting a testimonial, is that not only does it provide you with specific feedback on areas for improvement, you can tailor your questions and prompt answers. Often times it can be difficult for some to think of something to write but with a few prompts, you end up with some fantastic feedback and a great testimonial.

If it is a little daunting to set up this system yourself, we would be more than happy to assist you! After all, a Virtual Assistant is there to make it easy for you!

So, if you have any feedback for us as a client or reader, feel free to comment or connect with us on LinkedIn. We’d love to hear from you!