About Kathrine Farris

My name is Kathrine Farris. I am the owner and administrative professional behind Strategic Office Support, a virtual assisting company. I live and operate out of beautiful southern Maine. My experience is well-rounded including; education, employment, and participation in various organizations and events. I have an Applied Associate of Science Degree in Administrative Office Management, an Associate of Science Degree in Business and Technology, and a Bachelors of Science Degree in Business Administration. I am an instructor of Computer Applications at a local Community College, where majority of my curriculum is based on the word processing, spreadsheet applications, presentation design, and formatting techniques. I have over 14 years of experience in Administrative and Managerial tasks. Including customer service, retail sales, finance, education, non-profits, & small business. I have over 11 years of experience in a community financial institution, as an Vice President and Branch Manager as well as Administrative Assistant to the Certified Financial Planner. Regarded by coworkers and supervisors as highly organized and an expert in software programs. I have organized and assisted with non-profit function, condominium budgets, small event planning, letters and mailing, sales presentations and reporting, and computer application tutorials. Plus, I have acted as Treasurer on various boards and organizations.

Maintaining Motivation

Motivation in BusinessIt’s about that time of year, when some people give up on the ambitious goals they set for themselves. However, there are a small percentage of people who are still going strong. What’s their secret? What keeps some people on track while others stray? Motivation, Passion and Visible Results!

Who wouldn’t continue doing something that was working? And who wouldn’t be discouraged by hours spent on tasks that yield nothing?

How can we get the instant gratification that we need to motivate us to keep going?

  1. Low Hanging Fruit – Focus your energy on the closest goals first. This only makes sense, while it is nothing new; perhaps you need to be reminded. Why start with ‘cold calls’ when you have ‘warm’ prospects in your pipeline? Why focus on attracting new clients if you can add services to your existing relationships?
  2. Start Small – Focus on the small items that you can accomplish quickly. Pay off your credit cards and car loans before trying to pay off your mortgage.
  3. Bite Size – Break your goals down into the steps needed to accomplish each, and then cross off each step as you achieve it. This gives you smaller achievements and quicker results; not to mention the visible results that will continue to motivate you.
  4. Focus – As a visionary, it can be easy to get side tracked with something new and exciting, and there’s always something new and exciting. Stay on track by keeping your goals clear and visible every day.
  5. Keep Track – It’s always inspiring to see what you have accomplished, so keep track of your progress and celebrate successes.

There it is – organization, strategy, dedication, and focusing on the results are the keys to achieving your goals. But the biggest key is that you have to enjoy (or find enjoyment in) your work in order to maintain the motivation and creativity needed to be successful and grow a successful business!

Of course, some goals contain a degree of invisible success that is difficult to measure. For example, the amount of time spent on social media can feel discouraging if you don’t see any direct results, but the truth is that you are improving your brand recognition and visibility.

As for our goals, we are progressing steadily with the re-branding and transitioning to Strategic Office Support, growing our team, receiving some nice press regarding our new collaboration with Luma Coaching, and have started to develop our new site Become A VA.

Our strategy includes growing our team of professionals so we can accomplish more on a regular basis, including working on our own business, expanding our products, and developing new ventures.

Share your strategy, progress, and successes meeting your 2013 goals.


Strategic Launch Sequence

The beginning of a New Year marks a time when everyone is goal orientated. This can involve getting organized, re-evaluating product or service development, and launching new products and/or services.

Launching new products, services, and events is exciting, but you should be strategic about it.

Organizing your launch or release via strategic promotional efforts includes:

  1. Release – determine your release date, then work backwards to establish your promotional start date
  2. Content – know all the details of your product or service in order to create valuable promotional content
  3. Audience – defining and understanding your target market will help to improve promotional results
  4. Plan – be strategic in your promotional efforts by creating a plan and calendar that outline your activities and efforts
  5. Record – take good notes on your activities and the outcomes in order to improve the success of your next launch

Promotional avenues can include blogs, social media, e-newsletters, print newsletters, press releases, posters and flyers, radio interviews, TV interviews, a web page or splash page, a release party, affiliate marketing, and good old fashion word of mouth and networking.

Timing these activities can be crucial, especially if you want to offer special discounts for early subscribers or pair it with any other programs.

Consider a minimum of 6 weeks when planning a launch sequence for any new product or service. Ideally, you would have 8 to 12 weeks for promotion and marketing.

An example of an 8 week schedule for an email campaign or launch is as follows:

Email sequence for a product launch

Of course much of your strategy and the promotional avenues you choose in your launch sequence come from knowing your customers and ideal client profile.

Proper planning yields proper, successful results.

Do you have examples of successful promotional activities, or stories of launches that have not gone as planned?

5 Ways to Identify Ideal Clients

Do you know who you want to work with? Have you defined your ideal client?

Target MarketAs you grow your business, you will be more effective and satisfied with your work if you spend more time on what you consider ideal clients and less and less time on everyone else.

So, who is your ideal client?
What do they look like? How old are they? Are they male or female?
What TV shows do they watch, radio shows do they listen to, and magazines do they read?
Where do they buy their clothes, eat dinner, and spend their down time?

Knowing the answers to these questions will help make your marketing efforts much more effective. It will help you set your target market and direct your steps toward gaining ideal clients every time.

A great way to start figuring out the answers to these questions is to look at your past and current clients.  Determine the clients that have been the best to work with and why.

Consider the following in your analysis:

  1. Communication – what is the nature and means of the communication with the client? Are they direct or indirect? Do they prefer email, phone calls, or in person conversations?
  2. Demographics – what is the clients’ age, gender, education level, geographic location, etc…
  3. Personality – is the client an introvert or extrovert? Are they a leader or a follower? Do they tend to listen or talk?
  4. Strengths – what are the clients’ strengths and weaknesses? What are their interests? Are they organized and detail orientated or creative?
  5. Work – also consider the scope and nature of the work that you are performing for each client, as this can be a factor in the relationship – this may lead you to refine your niche.

Then analyze what your best (and worst) clients may have in common. This will give you a very insightful view into your ideal client persona. You may also consider conducting a survey of your current clients to see what they have in common.

Once you’ve determined the profile of your ideal client, go after them! Working with these people will improve your business and your outcomes. While you should remain focused, this is not set in stone; your ideal client may change as your business grows or changes so remain flexible.

An example of understanding our ideal client persona comes with the new collaboration that we have formed with Luma Coaching. We recognize that our ideal clients tend to be those who have business coaches, so it seemed obvious that we should partner with a business coach.

What have you done or will you do to identify and attract more of your ideal clients?

Image courtesy of jscreationzs / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

5 Essential Business Goals

Business Organization and GoalsAre you lacking basics business functions and organization? Make this the year you fix that!

As a visionary entrepreneur, it can be easy to get wrapped up in exciting projects and initiatives, overlooking the mundane details that are needed to run a scalable business.

As a responsible business owner, there are certain steps and goals that you should plan to achieve as early as possible.  If any of these are still on your to-do-list, consider adding them to your 2013 ‘resolutions’ and make them a priority.

Bookkeeping – as an entrepreneur, it is essential to know your numbers; income, expenses, profit, margins, etc. The only sure way to accomplish this is to maintain accurate bookkeeping records and keep your business finances separate. This will also help you budget for seasonal shifts, capital improvements, and growth.

Legal – It is vital to complete a risk assessment and make sure that you are properly protected by establishing the right business structure (LLC, Inc, Sole Proprietorship, etc) and purchasing appropriate insurance coverage. It’s also important to be sure that each of your business interactions are outlined in clear, concise contracts.

Filing– clearing your clutter and setting up systems for client forms, receipts, training material, communications, and other important information will only improve your efficiency and effectiveness.

Plan – it’s important to have a purpose laid out, usually in the form of a business plan. This does not need to be elaborate; but you should have a document that states what your business does, why you do it, what sets you apart, and outlines financial plans. Your annual strategies, marketing initiatives, and key business decisions should all reflect back to this ‘master plan’.

Schedule– in order to improve effectiveness as a busy entrepreneur, it’s important to manage your time according to priorities and deadlines. Example: set aside 1 hour on the 5th of each month to record and review your expenses.

Tip: Look at the following areas of your business and determine your weaknesses. Then add these weaknesses to your 2013 plans.

Operations – the order in which tasks are completed and systems are utilized

Finance – bookkeeping and budgeting

Marketing – branding, social media, website, events, printed material, etc…

Technology – knowledge and use of advancements

Administration – the systematic, routine tasks that need to get done

Make a point to read blogs and articles, take classes, and even find partners to assist you with your weaknesses, so you can continue to improve your business

If you’ve been pushing aside these (less exciting) basic functions, consider making this the year you clear them off your plate and set yourself up for more successful growth.

Please comment with suggestions or additional items that can be added to this list.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

5 Tips for Accomplishing Goals

Have you established your 2013 goals and resolutions yet? As you start 2013 with great ambitions, it’s important to set yourself up for success.

Here are some tips to help you accomplish your goals:

  1. Accomplish GoalsPut it in writing – putting anything in writing makes it easier to reflect on, build on, and share. Plus, it holds you more accountable and is more difficult to forget.
  2. Make a timeline – give your goals definition by mapping out the steps and projected time needed for completion. This exercise usually works best when you ‘start with the end in mind,’ utilizing backwards planning.
  3. Make a budget – not all things revolve around money, but those that do need a budget.
  4. Schedule time – make time in your regular schedule to revisit your goals and be sure you’re working toward achieving them. This may lead you to review your entire schedule and see where better systems need to be implemented.
  5. Collaborate – two heads are better than one! Find a group, mentor, coach, partner, etc… who can help you brainstorm, problem solve, and offer additional insight.

One of my goals for 2013 is to blog weekly.  My desire is to build up to twice a week. In order to do this, I will have to be diligent about setting aside time to write.

Please share your 2013 goals and how you plan to achieve them!

2013 Goals Exposed

2013 GoalsHappy New Year! For the first time, we have decided to make our annual goals public. Lucky for you, this is an abridged version.

We have two primary goals for 2013:

  1. Rebranding – we are transitioning from Office Solutions ME to Strategic Office Support, offering Virtual Business Management needed to build, manage, and maintain all of your business ideas. This creates all sorts of goals and opportunities for change. We will share more about this very soon!
  2. Partnering – we are excited to have initiated many great partner relationships in 2012, including web designers, graphic designers, copywriters, bookkeepers, marketing and social media consultants, and other virtual assistants.  In 2013, we want to take this to the next level!
    1. We want to keep our partners and sub-contractors BUSY, allowing us to attract and assist more clients. Our goal would be to utilize our partners and sub-contractors on at least 50% of our 2013 contracts.
    2. We’ve also started a new joint venture with Luma Coaching to offer business coaching support in addition to our implementation skills and support services. Click here for more details.

Secondary goals include:

  • Redesigned client intake process – still working on the details
  • Attend Be the Change April 2013 in Orlando Florida
  • Increased media exposure – radio, TV, local events, and social media
  • Product development – trainings, reports, and guides for entrepreneurs
  • Launch BecomeAVA.com – resources, training, and coaching for aspiring Virtual Assistants

So, there you have it, a basic outline of our goals to be accomplished in 2013. Now, please share your goals for the New Year, and any comments; we would love to hear from you!

5 Tips for New Year Planning

Are you ready for a new year? Have you reflected on your accomplishments and any failures from 2012? Have you started planning for 2013 yet? Now is the time, this is the day!

As 2012 wraps up and we get ready to start 2013, you should be thinking about your goals and your plans for the next year.

Here are five tips to help get your planning process started:

  1. Review past goals – look at the goals that you set for 2012. Did you achieve them all? If so, maybe they weren’t challenging enough? If not, what were the reasons?
  2. Review your calendar – look through your 2012 calendar to see what events and milestones took place. It’s easy to forget what you did 12 months ago, so looking at your calendar or planner may help to remind you of important occasions.
  3. Start a new calendar – start your 2013 calendar. Put important dates, reminders, and events in place. This will help remind you of commitments and allow for better time management and planning.
  4. Set priorities – determining your priorities for the next year will help you set better boundaries and stay on target. Keep in mind these can be short-term priorities; they do not have to set the tone for the rest of your life.
  5. Think big – start with large, long-term goals, and then break them down into smaller attainable pieces. For example, if your goal is to visit every state in the US, then you may choose just one or two new destinations for 2013.

Hopefully these tips help you start planning for a productive and successful New Year!

Please feel free to share your thoughts, planning routines, and strategies!