How can a Virtual Assistant help thee? Let me count the ways…

Get an Assistant!Want to know how a Virtual Assistant could help your business? Here are a few ideas to consider;

  1. Software & Program Set-up – A virtual assistant can set up your social media profiles (i.e. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, etc…), newsletter templates, contact management imports, Blog widgets and applications, and more.
  2. Small Event Planning and Execution – A virtual assistant can advertise your event, book an appropriate location, collect RSVPS, send out event reminders, help prepare and format your presentation, compile survey results, follow-up with attendees, and in some cases even show up with the refreshments.
  3. Print Mail Campaigns – A virtual assistant can create and format your mailing list, create a mail merge file, prepare (stamp, stuff, and seal) the envelopes, and send your mailing for you.
  4. Data Input – A virtual assistant can input contact information, type meeting minutes,
  5. Research – A virtual assistant can perform internet research for you, such as; a competitor analysis, mailing list creation, market research, report research, and more.
  6. Word Processing – A virtual assistant can assist with editing and creating documents
  7. PowerPoint Presentations – A virtual assistant can format PowerPoint presentations for a branded professional look, ensuring appropriate font and transitions for viewers.
  8. Webinars – A virtual assistant can help with the set up and facilitation of webinars, including event promotions and reminders, performing the speaker introduction, assisting in facilitating a question and answer portion, dictating the Q&A, acting as a narrator during the presentation, and following up with attendees.
  9. Spreadsheets – a virtual assistant can create and format spreadsheets for sales tracking, inventory control, schedules, budgets, cost estimates, and much more!
  10. Customer and Prospect Communication – a virtual assistant can assist with reaching out to prospects, sending birthday wishes, sending holiday greetings, sending and receiving surveys, routine customer follow-up, preparing and sending collections notices, and more.

Get a Virtual Assistant!While we couldn’t possibly list all the services that a virtual assistant could provide, however these should get you thinking… about how a virtual assistant could make your life easier!

For more information on virtual assisting and for a free consultation to see how a virtual assistant can help you and your business, contact Office Solutions ME Today!

5 Qualities to look for in a Virtual Assistant

A Virtual Assistant (VA) is an offsite administrative and business professional that can be contracted to assist you and your business needs. Some of the qualities that a business owner or manager should look for in a VA include;

  1. References – like any competent professional, a VA should come with quality references that can speak of the type of work they have completed and how satisfied the client was
  2. Examples of Work – while some work may be confidential, any competent VA should have examples of projects the they have completed or assisted with
  3. Education – if a VA does not have an official degree, the VA industry has many options available for certifications
  4. Contract – a relationship with a VA is a professional contract and should be treated as such. A VA should draft a contract that outlines the scope of work and payment that are to be expected by both parties
  5. Follow-up – as in any business contract, a VA should have good communication skills and keep their clients informed of progress

The concept of Virtual Assisting is very new to the state of Maine, but it is an idea that could be extremely beneficial to the business community.

Maine is a state full of innovative entrepreneurs that are great at what they do. Many of these companies are owned and operated by a handful of individuals that specialize in the field that they operate. A VA can offer administrative and business expertise as a contracted partner, allowing the company to maximize its resources. A VA also allows the company to avoid expensive, time consuming employment expenses that are generally associated with hiring additional employees.

For more information on Virtual Assistants and to review the education and qualifications of Office Solutions ME, feel free to visit our website and learn more!

Time Management Tips & Software

Pocket WatchTime is money, time is of the essence, time is a valuable commodity! We never have enough Time, yet we take it for granted.

So, how do we make the most of the time we have? When it comes to business, there are many tools that we can utilize to make the most of our time and maximize our efficiency!

It’s all about organization and scheduling, then sticking with that schedule and using the tools that we have available!

  1. Set Priorities – Tasks will be different for everyone and may even change depending on the week or month. They can include any of the tasks you complete on a daily weekly or monthly basis; Client Relations, Blogging, Filing, Invoicing, Prospecting, Updating Social Media Sites, Newsletters, Mailings, Reading E-mail, Updating Websites, Working on Client Projects, Staff Meetings etc…
  2. Arrange Availability – Coordinate the activities that require others’ participation. Check with those that are involved in your tasks and be sure they set aside time for you. There’s no sense in scheduling time to meet with a client if you don’t know when they are available, or setting aside time for a staff meeting when staff will be out in training. Be practical about your time usage in order to get the most out of it.
  3. Create a Schedule– After you’ve determined the most important tasks and the best times to coordinate Wrist Watchwith others; it’s time to set a schedule. Set up task in order of priority and then block off the time during the week or month that works the best for each task. You may find that Tuesday is a good day to block off an hour for website updates, Wednesday or Thursday evenings are dedicated to business networking events, Friday mornings are the best days for staff meetings, Blogging will get done on the 10th and 20th of every month, AP/AR will be best completed on the 14th or 15th of each month, and you will check e-mails at 8am, 10am, 2pm, and 4pm.
  4. Use Tracking Software – Whether this is new to you or not, chances are you will need some sort of tools to assist you. This could be as simple as setting timers or alarms on you cell phone to remind you to check your e-mail or start prepping invoices. This could also be as complex as utilizing time tracking software. There are many versions of time trackers available, some are even free.
  5. Adjust when Needed – If it’s broke, fix it! If your schedule isn’t working, then adjust it! It’s not set in stone, it’s a tool that’s suppose to make you more organized and less stressed, more efficient and more productive. So, make it work for you. And you may find that you can’t do everything… it’s okay to get help!

Here is a list of some time trackers and project managers that I’ve discovered;

Find more time Management tips;

If you have tips or can recommend any time management software, please feel free to comment!

 
 
 

Entrepreneurs Getting Started, Getting Organized!

What better time to talk about Entrepreneurs, with EWeek right around the corner! EWeek Maine, February 20th through 27th, encourages and supports entrepreneurs with panel discussions, workshops and networking events, designed to foster entrepreneurial education and lifelong learning. Go to http://www.eweekmaine.com/  for a complete listing of events.

Not many of us have one-dimensional lives. Most of us have expectations and requirement coming from many directions; bosses, employees, spouse, children, parents, teachers, students, neighbors, etc… In order to ensure all of these responsibilities are fulfilled and expectations are met, we have to be organized. This holds true, and is even multiplied, if you are the business owner.

Business owners now need to consider not just how to complete an order and the process of making the widget, but also the marketing, security, finances, regulations, taxes, etc… that go into running a company. While these tasks may grow with regards to the company size, they exist on some level at any size. So what is an Entrepreneurs or Solopreneurs (single person company) to do? How can you effectively wear all of these hats?

Here are some options/suggestions;

  1. Take the time to learn all of the functions of running a successful business. Just bite the bullet, take classes, attend seminars, and make time to learn the material.
  2. Find a mentor or business counselor that can help you find resources and give you tips. It’s important to find someone that will be honest with you, someone who continues to expand their knowledge and share that with you.
  3. Hire a consultant or business coach that has experience in running a business or in a particular aspect that you are struggling with. Again, It’s important to find someone that will be honest with you, someone you can trust to help keep you on track.
  4. Get a partner or hire an employee to help share the work load. When choosing to work with others, you add the human resource function to your plate, so be sure that is something you are prepared for.

Here are some websites that I have found helpful as tools and resources for getting started, getting organized, and learning how about the many aspects of running a business;

National Resources

Local (Maine) Resources

If you are not already a member of the Maine Entrepreneurs Group or the Maine Successful Thinkers Group on LinkedIn, I would highly suggest it. There are some great resource discussions.

Feel free to comment on additional resources that you have found helpful!

If you are looking for local places to network, check out our newly created Maine Networking Calendar.

 
 

iPhone: 4 Apps, 7 Features, 3 Wishes

iPhone

I’ve owned my iPhone 3GS since August, and have yet to share my favorite applications (apps) or my review of the phone overall.

In a nutshell, I LOVE IT!

My favorite  apps;

  1. TweetDeck – Twitter (social media) platform that allows me to manage multiple accounts at once, post Tweets, attach pictures, etc…
  2. Word Press – allows me to manage multiple blogs at once, update posts, attach pictures, read comments, etc…
  3. Facebook – (social media) keeps me informed of new messages and information as needed, allows me to update, add friends, etc…
  4. Conquest – a mobile version of Risk that allows me to spend my down time conquering the world.

My favorite features;

  1. Access to the Internet virtually anywhere! – even without an app, I can access e-mail and websites any where that I can get a cell phone signal, priceless especially for a virtual assistant!
  2. Calendar – I live by a schedule and having an easy-to use calendar at my finger tips is essential!
  3. Maps – this is almost as good as my GPS and it’s free.
  4. Cut, Copy, Paste – this is such a time saver. I can copy a name or an address and then paste it to a contact or calendar item
  5. Screenshots – by pushing the ‘home’ and ‘power’ button at the same time, you can take a picture of your screen, very helpful.
  6. World clock – with friends and family all over the world, I can now know exactly what time it is and avoid call them at 3am.
  7. Being able to look up a business on the Internet and then just touch their phone number to call them.

My wish list;

  1. Spell check – while there is a sort of predictive text feature, I am a terrible speller, and a built in spell check would be amazing.
  2. Record phone calls – there is a record feature and many downloadable apps, but none of them seem to work while you are on a call. I would find this useful during a business call, because I wouldn’t have to take as many notes.
  3. Camera flash – while this is trivial and not standard on most phones, there have been occasions of dim lighting that were photo worthy.

Overall, this is an amazing piece of technology and I continue to find more ways to utilize it. And as a virtual assistant it has been invaluable as a business tool, saving me time and making me money.

If you have thoughts on the iPhone or additional features to add, I would love to hear them!



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Don’t Waste Time on Social Media

Social Media Time Management

We’ve all been hearing about social media for a while now, and most of us agree that we should be using it in some way. After all, it’s FREE Marketing and Public Relations, right?
Well, almost… if time is money, then it certainly has a cost.

What are some of the ways to reduce the amount of time spent on social media?

  1. Spend less time.
  2. Become more efficient.
  3. Outsource.

Spend less time.
Yes, this sounds obvious and very simplified, but it’s true. For those that are already well versed and actively using social media, it may be a simple matter of limiting the amount of time spent per day/week. A great way to achieve this is to set a timer, or only allow yourself to access social media sites on certain days of the week.

Become more efficient.
Work smarter, not harder. This is my favorite answer.
There are many platforms available that allow you to integrate multiple social media sites. Platforms such as TweetDeck or HootSuite, allow you to view and update multiple social media sites at the same time. An RSS Feed on your Facebook page would allow Blog and Twitter updates to be viewed without any extra work by you. This and many other tools would obviously save you time.

Here are some great websites to help you learn more about using and improving social media efficiency;

Mashable
The Social Media Guide
Business Week
Wikipedia

Outsource.
This is not the answer for everyone, but if you’re not well versed in current media trends and technology (or you just don’t want to be), you can hire someone who is. This does require trust and communication by both parties, and when done correctly it has some great benefits.

Feel free to share some ways that you are currently saving time with Social Media? Or if you are having trouble with Social Media, feel free to post a question.

And for those still not convinced to use Social Media, may I recommend a video from David Meerman Scott at the 2009 Business Marketing Association National Conference.