Have you ever wanted to get some help in your business but were put off because it felt too hard?
- Where would you find the right person?
- How do you know if you can trust them?
- How long will it take for them to ‘get’ what you need?
- Will it be quicker just to do it yourself?
- What happens if it goes wrong?
The thought of using another person to ‘do’ part of your business is nerve-wracking – of course it it, we know our business better than anyone and it’s our baby.
BUT there comes a point quite quickly where we realise we can’t do everything. What we WANT to do is the thing we set up in business to do – what we NEED to do is everything else from admin to legal, marketing to accounts. And although they are necessary, they are not the best use of our time.
Our time is BEST spent doing our thing. The thing we sell.
When we first start out, we tend to have very little money and so we feel like we MUST do everything ourselves.
When we’ve been going a little while and we have customers and orders, life gets a bit frantic. Things suffer.
- The accounting gets left to the side because we don’t have time and then the end of the tax year comes around and we suddenly have a year’s worth of figures to do by yesterday. Eeeek!
- The marketing doesn’t happen. We have fits and starts. We post a few bits to Facebook, tweet a bit and send out one e-newsletter (that took the best part of a week to get our head around and we’re left with chewed nails and a permanently perplexed forehead)
- The client files are done when we are left with no option.
- The blogging just doesn’t happen.
- And as for making updating our website, well that’s a distant dream.
If this is sounding familiar then you are not alone – this happens to nearly every business owner at some point. It’s what you do next that makes the difference.
If you can see the bigger picture and you realise that getting those ‘bad fit’ jobs off your to-do list and outsourced to someone who can do them quickly and efficiently, you will free up valuable time to spend on the things that you do best. That means you can grow your business.
If you stay stuck at the point where you are always fighting the ‘bad fit’ jobs, you will never get the breathing space you need in your business. If you don’t get that breathing space, you never have time to plan or think – and without time to think and plan it’s really, really hard to scale up your business.
What Can I Outsource?
One of the biggest reasons people get stuck with outsourcing is that they don’t know where to start. They aren’t sure what they COULD outsource even if they wanted to. That’s why I’ve put together this list for you of things I’ve outsourced and you could too.
Remember, virtual assistants have different skill sets, so find one who can manage a particular task or role rather than looking for a ‘one size fits all’ person.
Hiring a virtual assistant for even just one or two hours can free up HOURS of your valuable time – things that take you a LONG time to do (because they aren’t your favourite thing and you’ve been avoiding them forever) will take a virtual assistant far less time because a) they don’t hate them and b) they do this all the time so they are good at it.
One last thing – put a trial in place so that BOTH of you can see if you’re a good fit. If not, you can part without issue – that’s what trials are for.
So, without further ado, here are 45 things you can outsource to a virtual assistant.
1. Inbox detox
I read recently that spam makes up over 80% of all emails sent worldwide – I can vouch for this as I seem to attract a few hundred each day. Also, it’s really tempting to sign up to ‘business expert’ subscriptions and newsletters but do you ever get time to read them? If your inbox is full of spam, newsletters and noise you’re probably missing genuine messages and enquiries – you need to take back control. A VA can do this for you by sorting out all those folders, unsubscribing from newsletters you keep forgetting to unsubscribe from, putting you some systems in place and giving you sight of the important stuff.
2. Importing databases
Setting up new software? Starting an e-newsletter? Anything like this usually means you need to import lists or databases – doing all that stuff with .csv files and spreadsheets that brings you out in hives. If you get it wrong it sends your software haywire – best to get it right first time. Why not get a VA to do it for you? It won’t take them long and they can focus on the task in hand rather than being pulled in all directions trying to run a business.
3. Creating reports
Sales reports, postage cost reports, mileage reports – any reports you need – give them the info and off they’ll go!
4. Transcribing audios
Record your client notes and get them transcribed to save you typing them up. Interviewed someone or done an online class? Get it transcribed by a virtual assistant so you can use it for other things (e-books, blogs, videos). Recording voice memos on your phone is easy peasy and will save you tons of time you can spend on other things.
5. Creating forms
Opt in forms, website forms, survey forms, expense forms, mileage forms – any forms you need – they take a little time and patience to set up and that’s something that’s in short supply for most business owners so use a VA to do it for you.
6. Preparing meeting minutes
Do you REALLY want to spend time going through those 23 pages of scribble from the meeting turning it into a beautifully clear set of minutes? Do you? If not, see if you can find a sympathetic VA with a talent for deciphering scrawl and they will have it done in no time.
7. Preparing presentations
Powerpoint slides. They have been the downfall of many a happy business owner. A few hours later and many curses and tears later they give up because the animations didn’t work and they got ambushed by WordArt. It’s not pretty. Whiz your logo and notes over to a VA and let them do it properly.
8. Travel planning
Trains, planes, hire cars, hotels, holidays, sightseeing… That.
Doing all that ‘behind the scenes’ work on your website, optimising blogs, adding keywords, all those important things you never have time to do but that make all the difference to getting found on Google. Just do it – there are VAs who specialise in web work and know this like the back of their hand and when you start appearing in key Google searches and getting more enquiries and sales, the investment in a VA will be paid back several times over.
10. Formatting blogs
You know how blogs need proof-reading? They need headings and images? How about embedded links and a bit of SEO work? No? Ooh, best find a VA who does! Blogs can be an amazing part of your marketing, attracting web visitors, positioning you as an expert and showing you know your stuff so it’s definitely worth going the extra mile and getting them looking great.
11. Formatting e-books
E-books are a brilliant marketing asset whether you’re selling them or giving them away for free in exchange for email addresses to build your list. No matter which, you need to make them look professional – this is the first impression most people will have of your business. I don’t mean you have to pay a graphic designer to whip them up but you DO need to get a consistent style and feel (and they need to be error free and grammatically correct). If you aren’t confident, find someone who can do it for you.
12. Diary management
If you just want to be given a ‘to-do’ and ‘to be’ list each day, there are VAs who will act like your PA, in other words they will manage and protect your time, book in your appointments and keep you right. Not everyone needs this but you will definitely know if you do!
13. Moderating blogs
Blogs are fantastic marketing tools but they are living documents. People will find them long after you’ve written them and if you’ve done it right, you’ll get lots of comments (which is a GOOD thing). My advice is moderate every comment rather than automatically allowing people to post – a VA can do this for you.
Need some statistics for a presentation or sales page or some figures for a client document? Or maybe you need to find some quotes for your FB page or get some information for a client report. If you don’t have time to do the research, a VA will happily do this for you – you just need to give them a time and money budget in advance.
15. Organising Dropbox
Dropbox can quickly turn into a disaster zone with files everywhere, duplicates taking up space and a complete lack of order, leaving you with a headache and lots of time wasted looking for things. Get a VA to set up folders, come up with a naming system and generally tidy up.
16. Data entry
Got a list of people who attended your event and gave you their email address on a sheet of paper? Someone has to input them into your database and a VA can do it quickly and accurately.
17. Creating spreadsheets
If Excel brings you out in hives then shout for a VA who knows her way around spreadsheets. You might think you can live your life without spreadsheets but if you’re honest, I’m sure you could do with some nifty cashflow or management account spreadsheets at the very least, not to mention record keeping, PR contacts, or even your list of tweets you need to schedule. Rather than battling with Excel, find a VA who can do the set up for you – they can even brand for you it if you ask nicely.
18. Checking voicemail
If you’re out and about with clients, at events or in meetings, who is keeping an eye on your phone? Even if you don’t want to stretch to call handling, it doesn’t hurt to get someone to check your office and mobile voicemail at regular intervals and either deal with the queries or put them into your to-do list.
19. Project management
Whether you’re organising a launch, going through a rebrand or working with a team to make something happen, a VA can help with the organisation and project management. You need one person who knows what is supposed to be happened and who is supposed to be doing it, and by when, and if you don’t have the bandwidth then a VA could do it for you.
20. Sending client invoices
You know you need to do it but it’s SO hard to find time! And yet it’s the lifeblood of your business – if you don’t invoice, you don’t get paid. Get a VA to sort it for you – it might take you a bit of time to set up between you but in the (not so) long run you’ll wonder how you ever managed. Some business owners I know do it via dictation – they record their hours and billing info onto a voice record on their phone, email it to their VA and the invoices come back to get checked then get sent. Easy peasy.
21. Credit control
Yeah, OK, so invoicing is only half of the equation. The other half is making sure they get paid. The thing about chasing invoice payments is it feels so PERSONAL – one day you’re treating your lovely clients like royalty and giving great service, the next you’re on the phone reminding them their payment is late. I know, it feels kind of odd. This was the first ever thing I used a VA for. My VA didn’t have to worry about emotions or guilt – she handled it in a very straightforward, matter-of-fact way and guess what? She got the cash in. Time after time. No brainer, if you ask me.
22. Receptionist duties
Maybe you want to look and act like a bigger company. Maybe you just want to make sure all your calls are getting handled. Maybe you only need a receptionist / meeter-greeter occasionally when clients come to your office. Whatever the case, just book your VA, brief them on the task and let them take care of it. You look awesome, your clients feel looked after and you only had to pay for a couple of hours of a VA’s time rather than having a full time member of staff.
23. Uploading to YouTube
You’ve made the videos, you just need to get them out there but it’s a hassle and you don’t have time to sit and upload them all to YouTube, put in the descriptions and make sure they are doing their thing. A VA could sort that for you – you stick them into a Dropbox, they upload them and before you know it, you’ll be a YouTube star.
24. Scheduling Tweets
Hootsuite anyone? Or Buffer, maybe? You know they are there, you know you need to schedule some tweets but who has time to sit and upload them? Not you. But a VA could. Just sayin’.
25. Moderating FB comments
If you’re struggling to keep up with your Facebook page, you’re losing out on sales. When you have a popular post and people are asking questions about your product or service, you need to be on the ball with your replies. They are sales waiting to happen but if you don’t get around to it, quickly, you’ll miss out. Set up a VA as an Editor on your Facebook page and they can handle most of the replies and field anything to you that needs your personal attention.
26. Newsletter creation
I’ve known grown women waste a whole week trying to get their newsletter to look nice. A week! Imagine! That’s not uncommon by the way – it’s very easy to waste a lot of time going around in circles trying to get your newsletter set up if you’re not arty and you don’t know what you’re doing. Get a VA to sort it – you know it makes sense.
27. Newsletter sending
You’ve got the template sorted, your email is ready to go if only you had a list of people to send it to…get your VA to upload your customer list for you and schedule your newsletter to go out when you want. And while they’re at it, ask them to check the stats afterwards for you and tell you what worked and what didn’t.
28. Press release writing
Not very good with words? Stuck for what to say? Tell a VA your story and ask them to turn it into a beautiful press release. You can tweak it afterwards if needs be but the hard work will have been done – it’s much easier to amend a release than start with a blank page.
29. Press release distribution
A VA can send out your press release but they can do far more. They can research publications that are a good fit for your target audience (your Super Customer) and make you a shortlist to work from. They can get contact details of the key personnel and even create a spreadsheet for you containing all the information. They can send out the releases if you like or you can get in touch with individual publications and build relationships, if you want. The main thing is, just get on with it – fame is just around the corner!
30. Setting up a podcast
If you want to start a podcast but the whole ‘techie’ thing baffles you (or scares you witless) then find a podcasty VA. There are some FAB techie VAs out there who know their way around all the software and tools AND can keep you right on other podcasting questions. Don’t struggle in silence, find a VA who already does this and save yourself hours of podcasty pain!
31. Editing audio files
The best podcasts have a snazzy introduction and ‘outro’ – it makes them sound far more professional. The thing is, to add them to your podcast recording requires an element of tech wizardry and using audio editing software can be tricky. Actually that’s an understatement. It can make you cry tears of frustration and throw your laptop in the sink. A techie VA can sort it for you quickly and efficiently – what are you waiting for?
32. Updating website
You know how you’ve been meaning to update the prices on your website for ages? And those new product images you mean to upload last month, remember? They aren’t going to magic themselves onto your website but they NEARLY can if you hire a VA to do your website updates for you. Just check your VA knows their way around your particular type of website and pass over that update list – you’ll feel a huge sense of relief and your website will thank you for it.
If you have an important letter or email to send, you don’t want glaring mistakes or spelling errors spoiling the effect. If you’re paying good money for brochures or fliers to be printed, you don’t want to repent at leisure when you see loads of typos upon opening the box. Let an eagle-eyed VA take the uncertainty away and make sure you get it right first time!
34. Setting up FB ads
Facebook Ads are the nemesis of many an unsuspecting business owner. You think you know what you’re doing and then BAM! A chunk of money leaves your bank account to pay for FB ads and you’ve seen nothing for your hard-earned cash. And then just when you think you’ve got it sussed, FB goes and changes the rules. Aaaagh! You could give it up as a bad job; or you could hand it over to a VA who knows what they are doing and can work with you on budgets and targeting to make your ads amazing.
35. Monitoring FB ads
Setting up Facebook ads is one challenge; keeping an eye on them and tweaking them for optimum performance is another and for most people, it’s a step to far. But, if you do this, you can save loads of money and figure out how to get your best ads performing better – BUT it takes time and patience, which is something most business owners have in short supply. A social media-savvy VA can do this for you AND you’ll learn something in the process.
36. Creating autoresponders
Autoresponders are emails that go out automatically to your customers or email subscribers for a specific reason, such as welcoming them to your business or telling them what to expect from their purchase. There are LOADS of brilliant ways to use autoresponders and the right VA will already know most of them – find someone who has already done this for other clients and bring their experience and expertise into your business.
37. Scheduling autoresponders
Autoresponders are a two step task – first of all you have to write them, then you need to plug them into your email software and schedule them to go out on the right days at the right time in the right order. It takes an organised, patient person to do this and if that’s not you, find someone who can do it for you.
38. Creating Canva images
Canva is an amazing, mostly free graphics programme for beginners that lets you create everything from social media images to blog headers, e-books to brochures and everything in between. It is loads of fun to play with but it can be a serious time drain as you tinker with images. By all means have a play but if you are serious about getting images created, find an arty VA, give them a brief and let them loose on your image list.
39. Basic bookkeeping
Rather than collecting bags full of receipts and steeling yourself for a day of torture when your accounting deadline looms, why not put each month’s receipts into a ‘month’ envelope (or even take photos of each one) and send it off to a VA to input into your accounting software or a spreadsheet. That way it won’t build up and the cost of the VA will be more than justified when you get your life back…
40. Spreadsheet formulae
Remember those spreadsheets we discussed earlier? If you use a VA they won’t just set up your spreadsheet, they can also add – wait for it – *formulae* (said in a reverent whisper) because formulae make magic things happen, are in the realms of secret languages and spells….Seriously, getting my Twitter character-counter spreadsheet from my VA was a happy moment and it was all done with formulae.
41. Reminder services
Do you keep forgetting birthdays? Or missing booking deadlines for those events you wanted to attend? I get it, life is busy but if you had an organised VA, THEY could set up reminders for you and nag you until you do what you need to do OR do it for you. Money well spent, I think you’ll find.
42. Customer service emails
If it’s taking you too long to get back to customers with quotes or answers to questions, hire a VA to do it for you. Give them a ‘cheat sheet’ and your pricing structure, ask them to check with you before they send and watch your customer service levels soar…
43. Sending greetings cards
How long is it since you sent thank you cards to your customers? Or birthday cards to your favourite client? How about a ‘good luck in your new home’ card to the supplier who just moved into bigger premises? Cards like this in the mail make people smile. Making people smile is good for everyone. Task a VA with sending out the cards on your behalf – you can even ask them to compile a ‘birthday’ list for your top clients!
44. Managing events
If you’re running an event, there are lots of things that need to be covered. From finding and liaising with the venue, setting up the ticketing and payments, marketing the event, dealing with enquiries, even manning the reception desk on the day – are YOU going to do it? If not, best get a VA involved early on and it will run like clockwork.
45. Ask them! You might be surprised!
Every Virtual Assistant has their own unique combination of experience, expertise, skills and knowledge so why not schedule in some time to have a Skype or a coffee and chat about what they can do and what they HAVE DONE in the past. A chat like this could give you some great ideas for your business and you’re talking to the person who can make it happen. Awesome stuff!
There are LOADS of other things a VA could do for your business, I’ve really just scratched the surface.
How Do You Find A Good Virtual Assistant?
There are a several associations that train VAs and these can be a good place to start – just Google Virtual Assistant association or training and see what comes up.
Google the specialism you want – if you need a VA who specialises in podcasting then put that into the search bar – any good VA worth their salt will make sure they show up in searches for their expert topic.
Ask in groups – if you’re a member of any networking, business or Facebook groups, see if any names get put forward. Word of mouth is a great way to find a gem of a VA.
Remember – not every VA will be right for your business and not every VA can do every single thing you need – you might have to use a few different VAs for different areas of your business, and that’s fine. Also, it doesn’t have to be forever – put trials in place, keep talking and work in out. Neither of you are mind readers so good communication will make sure you’re both getting what you need.
Finally – when you find a good VA, don’t let them go! A great VA is an asset to your business and can make a big positive difference to your bottom line.
Where To Start Using A VA
Pick ONE task that’s been sitting on your desk for ages and find a VA to do it for you. Most VAs will take on one-off projects and it will give you an affordable way to see if working with a VA works for you (while ticking another item off your to-do list). If the first one goes OK, keep handing over small jobs until you’re confident you have the right person and then think about putting something more regular in place.
People say ‘FOCUS’ is the magic ingredient in any successful business and they’re not wrong, but they make it sound like it’s EASY! And it isn’t! Being able to focus when you feel like you barely have time to turn around, is not easy. Trying to find space in your brain to focus on just one thing, when you’re trying to juggle life, business, children and other jobs is tricky!
The trouble is, without focus you’ll struggle to get anything done. Jobs take far longer to do when you’re trying to do a dozen other things at the same time. Even the simplest tasks can take hours, if you’re being pulled in all directions when actually they would take just a few minutes if you were able to focus on them. Life is easier when you can focus. Business is easier when you can focus.
So how DO you get the focus you need to get stuff done and build your business?
Well, I’m no focus guru but I am a mum and a business owner and I’ve learned how to do this (or I would have gone crazy) so I’ve put together 8 tips for you to help you find more time and do more with it. Give them a try, one or two of them could seriously help you build your business, reduce stress and help you get more done. What’s not to love?
1. Stop multi-tasking!
Women are brilliant at multi-tasking. We’re told this as we grow up. It’s like a badge of honour and we sometimes feel like we’re scoring major girl points, the more we can boast we can do at the same time. And in life, it’s great to do that – I often make tea while helping with homework, while making a dentist appointment and answering quick work messages on my phone – I’m sure you’re the same. We HAVE to do it or the day would run away with us, but in business it’s different.
I was talking to a woman recently on Skype and I could see she was busy working on something while I was talking to her ‘Oh keep talking’ she said ‘I can do this while I’m listening’. But she wasn’t quite with me. I didn’t feel listened to. And it mattered.
Maybe you CAN do invoices while you’re helping a customer, but you’re opening yourself up to making mistakes and to be honest, you would get the invoicing done far quicker and more accurately if you blocked out 10 or 15 minutes and just did it, without spreading yourself thin.
We often kid ourselves into thinking we’re getting more done by multi-tasking, but we often end up just spending a lot of time spinning our wheels – things take longer, mistakes are made. So, my advice for what it’s worth is to give ONE thing your full attention, even just for 10 or 15 minutes and just do it. Give it your full attention because that’s when the magic happens. You get more done but because you’re focusing fully, you see ways to improve, you come up with ideas, you remember things you had meant to do ages ago – it’s great!
2. Finish tasks that are easily completed.
You know that my mantra is ‘don’t get it perfect, get it finished?’ Well I mean it! Most of the time you’re having trouble staying focused is because there a bunch of little things on your mind that you know you need to do.
Get a pad and pen and write down everything that can be completed in under 10 minutes, then finish everything on the list before you start on a project that requires more focus.
This doesn’t mean that every time something comes up that would take less than ten minutes to do, you do it. You simply batch everything together that requires ten minutes of time or less. And don’t agonise or keep putting it off because it’s not perfect – just get the darned thing done! Finished!
3. Stay in the now.
As much as you can, practice focusing your attention on the present moment. I know that person really annoyed you last week. I know you might be worried about something coming up soon. But being bothered about something that happened in the past (that you can’t change) and being worried about something that might happen in the future – you have no control over them. The only thing you have control over is what you are doing right now – how you are feeling, how you react, what is getting your energy – you can change that right now. And the things you DO and DECIDE right now have a big impact on what WILL happen.
Don’t dwell on ‘might haves’, and ‘should haves’ and ‘if onlys’ – don’t let the baggage of the past hold you back. Focus on what you are doing and can do right now and let the other ‘stuff’ go.
4. Respond, don’t react.
We’re busy. Often the person who shouts the loudest gets seen to first – that’s how life works, right?
Here’s a thought; instead of reacting to the latest ‘urgent’ email or phonecall, take time to think. If you keep reacting, then you’re not being productive.
Work out what YOU need to do each day and protect your work time while you’re doing it. Don’t immediately react to requests or messages, instead only check messages when it suits your schedule and don’t feel that you have to come back to people immediately. It’s perfectly OK to sit on an email for a couple of days while you consider your options or get something more important finished. Take control of your time – respond in a way that’s right for you and your business instead of reacting.
5. Declutter your workspace.
It’s really hard to focus and be organised when your workspace is a mess. If you have piles of papers, empty cups, unpaid bills, and other ‘stuff’ piled up and around you, how can you expect to think clearly, let alone find anything? Declutter your workspace. Do it now. You will feel so much better once it’s done and you’ll find it easier to concentrate too.
6. Love what you do.
If you don’t love what you’re doing then you’re going to have a really hard time staying focused. A lot of the time we can’t focus because we really don’t WANT to. We’re bored. Or we really don’t like what we have to do. And yet as soon as we have a job we’re looking forward to, we have no trouble finding the time and space to focus, right?
If you don’t love your business, do something else because that feeling will only get worse. If there are certain parts of your business you don’t like, then find a way to either get rid of them altogether or outsource them. There is always a way, you just have to be open-minded and creative. Spending your time and energy on something you really don’t enjoy or actively dislike is a sure fire way to make an unhappy, unproductive, unfocused you. Time to face up to it and do something about it, eh?
7. Distinguish between urgent and important.
What’s important in your business? What’s urgent?
They are not always the same thing.
Important things are running your business properly, managing your money, creating great products or services, getting more customers, providing great service, keeping on top of your tax – they are all really important. But most of the time they are not urgent, especially if you deal with them regularly and don’t leave things till the last minute.
Urgent things tend to be of our own making. Oh no! That tax return is due in tomorrow and I need to find all my receipts and call my accountant and find my government website login but I’ve forgotten the password and they will only send a replacement out in the mail…yes I’ve been there too. But it was only urgent because I hadn’t treated it as important before, and had it all sorted out well in advance. It wasn’t unexpected.
In business there aren’t many URGENT AND UNEXPECTED things. Most of the time, urgent things are just important things that we’ve forgotten about or ignored.
It’s really hard to focus when everything seems or feels urgent. So stop creating urgent things. You can do this!
8. Set a timer.
If you really need to get something done and you keep getting distracted, set yourself a deadline. There are loads of free timer apps online or for your phone. Set yourself a time limit of 10, 20 or 30 minutes and focus on that ONE job for that period of time until the buzzer goes. It’s amazing how much you can get done when you’re up against a deadline!
I do this all the time and I’m always amazed how productive AND focused I am when I’m trying to beat the clock!
What are YOUR top focus tips?
I’d love to read them – pop them in the comments and share the focus love!
Do you feel like you have a broken business?As if part of it just aren’t working?
If so, you’re definitely not alone. Building a business is tricky. Not only do you have to actually DO or MAKE the thing you get paid for, there’s a whole bunch of other stuff you need to know and do to keep the business running and legal. From marketing to cashflow, invoicing and credit control to tax, rules, regulations and legal requirements, it can be all consuming – and no wonder we get overwhelmed and struggle with where to focus first.
The thing is, if any of these areas get neglected, your business starts to break.
You get behind on invoicing. You get hit with unexpected tax bills. You come to the end of a busy period to find you have NO business and no idea where the next sale will come from. And those are just some of the symptoms, not to mention the panic, overwhelm and despair that accompany them.
And here’s the thing. Hardly any small businesses get it ALL right, all of the time. Most businesses have areas that are ‘weak’ or neglected because there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to tackle everything.
So there is always something that’s broken or breaking. And that’s a shame. So, what can you do about it?
Well, the answer is LOTS! But very slowly and in very tiny steps. Let me explain.
By the time we reach a point where one or more areas of our business are ‘broken’ or not working properly, we’re usually in it up to our neck. We are busy, we have no spare time, we just have to keep paddling and hope we can keep going and fix things before disaster strikes.
And when something BIG goes wrong, we go into crisis mode. We stop doing everything else and throw all our attention and energy at the ‘broken’ thing until we get it going again.
So, if we run out of cash we go crazy chasing up outstanding invoices and ignore everything else. If we come to the end of a busy period and find sales have come to a total stop, we put all our attention on marketing like a crazy person, throwing out deals and offers and promotions left, right and centre and ignore everything else until we get the sales, then we start again.
So, let me ask you something.
Does this sound like a good and sustainable way to run a business?
I don’t think so.
What we need to do is start fixing the tiny things first.
The tiny, seemingly insignificant things that you think won’t make a difference but over time, they make a huge difference.
This might be as simple as spending 10 minutes every day checking to see whose payments are overdue and sending out emails or making calls to ask when payment is coming. If you did that every single day you would see big changes starting to happen.
- First of all, you would know EXACTLY where you are with your money and your outstanding payments all the time. That’s massive.
- Secondly, you would always be on top of debtors and they would know you are running a professional business. You would send them a reminder on the day payment is due and ask them when you can expect payment.
- You would follow up a week later with a friendly phone call asking when you can expect payment and showing them that you’re serious about collecting this money, instead of sitting waiting patiently until someone remembers to pay you.
- Thirdly, you would start to see who the problem customers are and you could make a decision about whether it’s worth dealing with them in the future.
And if you did this every work day, you would never have a mad panic about who owes what at the end of the month, and then despairing because the person who signs off payments has just gone on holiday for 2 weeks. If you’d done your 10 minutes a day you would have known about the holiday and you would have probably already been paid by now.
Let’s take another example.
Say you’ve been crazy busy with orders and then one day you finish everything on the list. You have been SO busy that you’ve not had time to do any marketing or line up any more sales. So now it’s like a ghost town out there. You have to start from scratch again, like you did the last time before you got crazy busy again, remember?
But just imagine if you had a steady stream of orders and a healthy waiting list that always has sales coming through, so you never have crazy busy times but you also never have a ghost-town. That takes one tiny change in your business.
You just need to start keeping in touch. With customers, with prospects, with anyone who wants to hear from you. Regularly.
If you start keeping in touch and sending out a regular e-newsletter every month or two weeks, magical things start to happen.
- Customers start getting in touch and ordering more because your email just reminded them how fab your business is and why they need to be buying from you again.
- Enquiries from potential customers start to appear because something you said in your newsletter jogged their memory or hit a nerve and they decide NOW is a good time to take action and buy from you.
- You get bigger orders because you started showcasing your products and services in your newsletter, focusing on different ones each time and you have testimonials and case studies showing how your stuff works and why it’s so great. Customers who would just have bought one thing decide to try this other new thing because the testimonials showed them it’s just what they need, plus they are more likely to trust you because customers are singing your praises.
- You can create sales. Yes really. Just from a newsletter. You decide every so often to put out an offer or a deal, or try a new style or product and you give your newsletter subscribers a sneaky peek and an early bird price and guess what? People buy. They book. They purchase. They place orders. Just because you sent them a newsletter.
This one tiny change in your business has a HUGE impact on your cashflow, on your time, on your peace of mind and on your sales.
Sending a newsletter might take you a day the first time you try it. The second time it might take half a day. The third time it might take you an hour. Before very long you’ll be a whiz at it and you’ll be writing newsletters like a pro (and you’ll have time because you’re not running round trying to scramble after business).
Every day, write down anything that you think needs to go in your next newsletter so when it comes to writing it, the content is there it just needs putting into the email.
This Works For Every Part Of Your Business AND Life
It does! Making tiny changes and STICKING TO THEM is all you need to do to create MASSIVE changes down the line.
Sometimes it takes a short time. Sometimes it can take a year or more (putting money into your pension pot for example) before you see the benefits but those tiny changes add up.
Where you put your attention is where the magic happens and the magic only takes a tiny change to start working. You just need to STICK AT IT!
- Pick ONE TINY THING you want to change and start today. It needs to be something really small that takes hardly any effort. Something that’s easy and quick. Just pick one. Once you’ve cracked one area, you can start tiny change number 2.
- Keep doing it, every day for a week.
- And once you’ve done it for a week, commit to doing it for another TWO weeks because after 3 weeks you’ll be used to it. It will become a habit and something you just DO without thinking.
- Every 3 weeks you can make ONE MORE TINY CHANGE in your business and it will feel effortless because your previous tiny changes are now such a part of your routine that you don’t even think about them.
- The last thing you need to do is to write down what the tiny change is each time. Put it on your wall, on your phone, in your notebook along with the date and look at it every day. At the end of a year you could have made 17 tiny changes in your business and your life and you will probably have forgotten most of them because you are so used to them but when you look back, you’ll be amazed at how far you have come and what you have achieved just by making TEENY, TINY CHANGES every few weeks in your business.
I can’t wait to see how you get on!