The Power in Saying No!

The Power in Saying No!

Saying no is one of the most difficult things to do when you are a small business owner. I learned very early on that saying yes to everything was not serving me well. I had business coming in, but was it bringing me joy or making my heart sing? Most of the time yes, but sometimes I had to ask myself whose business was Format Services, mine or theirs?  I get that you want to impress and deliver EVERYTHING, sometimes it is not always possible.

One of the most freeing and powerful things I ever did was to learn how to say no. Learning to say no led me down a path with so much more opportunities. Please understand that saying no does not make you harsh or rude. You can say no without coming across as rude. You could let clients know:

  • You don’t offer that level of support
  • You don’t have any capacity to support him/her at the time
  • You only work with X

This is not you placing yourself in a box at all, ultimately you are choosing your joy over stress.

The image of a business owner that we have in our heads is usually somebody who covers every role within the company. We always feel that we must deal with everything and every person who shows interest in the product or services that you provide. Saying yes to every opportunity can bring you overwhelm and so much worry, so when you find yourself in that position just ask yourself if this opportunity is for you.

Be unapologetic when you decide to not work with somebody, you might not be able to help or even have the capacity. It is quite nice if you can refer them on to somebody else, who you know can support their needs. The industry is huge as we know, and you may well have somebody in the community whose title may be the same as yours but offer very different services. My referrals usually come from word of mouth and it’s nice to recommend others within your community to clients who require a specific service or product.

You will be very surprised at how much smoother things run when you aren’t taking on unnecessary tasks and roles. Focusing on clients and projects that fall within your ethos and messaging, is so much more fulfilling for you.

If after this you still struggle with saying no, just think of it as you are closing one door and opening another. Saying no will open your schedule to more fulfilling opportunities. I am very big on energy and if during a discovery call the energy is not there, I listen to my gut and won’t move forward with any Terms & Conditions if I envision issues very early on.

Remember time is money, the power in saying no allows you to control the client relationships that you have. Not everything thing is for you and that’s OK. Learn to set boundaries from very early on, this will help you big time.

 

The Benefits of Outsourcing 

The Benefits of Outsourcing 

I bet you’ve been wondering if outsourcing to a virtual assistant is a good idea, haven’t you? You are wondering if it’s going to be worth the investment and just how much time you will have freed up by hiring somebody?

Time is money, and your time is precious. Outsourcing can certainly save you time and I will go over the benefits of outsourcing your workload to a Virtual Assistant. This will involve showing you the value of this option, even if you do have much of a budget for their services.   

On one hand, I have come across many potential clients who have turned their nose up at having a Virtual Assistant, many have said ‘I can do that myself, ‘automation does that’ and my favourite ‘I don’t have the budget for one yet’.  On the other hand, I have come across clients who have hired me hesitantly, because previous support has not worked out as they had envisioned, because the quality of work has been poor or deadlines have been missed etc.   

I will always enter a new working relationship as transparent as possible. I am not a techy VA so I won’t be drumming up an all-singing, all-dancing website or dissecting your analytics because I can’t. I don’t want to sell dreams that I can do X, Y, Z and then not deliver. The best form of advertising is word of mouth, and my reputation is important to me.  

I want to share a couple of reasons why outsourcing your work is beneficial to any small business owner.

Save Time  

Virtual Assistants can save you time, a lot of time. Business owners can outsource several tasks which will enable you to put your time and energy elsewhere within the business. If you are ‘time poor’, outsourcing your diary for instance will work wonders for you. The time you save, you can put that into scaling the business with new ideas, strategies and executing them one by one.

Save Money

A Virtual Assistant is not a full-time member of staff, you can reap the benefits of an assistant without the costly overheads. The list below outlines where you can save:

  • There are no agency/recruitment fees to pay
  • You don’t have to pay sick leave, a pension, NI or holiday pay
  • No computer/laptop equipment to provide
  • You will only be billed for hours booked
  • No need for training costs or software licences

Sounding board 

Entrepreneurs will often, start alone and building alone can feel like a lonely place. Delegating bits and pieces that are not your strengths will propel you forward faster. A VA will have the right skill set for your needs and having somebody on hand that you can bounce ideas off can be helpful. Your VA will be able to take on any task and do it effectively with very little or no support from you.

Your VA can also support business growth by recommending and/or implementing new processes, that may be beneficial to your business. That extra pair of hands is worth its weight in gold.

Reduce Stress

Trying to juggle multiple projects on your own will lead to you feeling stressed, frustrated, overwhelmed and unwell. You cannot afford to take time off, because it’s just you steering the ship. Offload those troublesome tasks that you can outsource to your VA and they will handle them with ease. Remember your VA comes armed with a wealth of experience and knowledge, relax and let go. Just imagine being able to find that harmony with running your profitable business and family life.

If you have made it this far it’s clear that if you are a fed-up business owner, outsourcing can save you both time and money. The benefits are worth investing in, how many hours can a Virtual Assistant save you a week?

When you look at the goals you want to reach for your business, it becomes clearer that a Virtual Assistant should be on your list no matter where you are in your business journey. Most Virtual Assistants work on retainers, whereby you choose how many hours you would like for them to be available just for you every month. Otherwise, if you would like to work on an ad hoc basis, that is also possible. The possibilities are endless and there is a package to suit every entrepreneur. You can check out my rates via the website and book a call if you are ready to outsource. You will not regret it.

Want to Make Your Home Office More Organised? Let Me Show You How…

Want to Make Your Home Office More Organised? Let Me Show You How…

People have always said they don’t know how I can get so much done, in such a short space of time. I guess over the years of being a Team Secretary looking after a team of 12 Actuaries to being a Medical PA for one of the top Neurologists in the UK, I had to organise myself to be able to confidently organise others.

Although I have learnt so much, here are some simple techniques you can use too, to get organised and become more productive.

The first thing I recommend you do is to take a look at your desk. Is everything there mandatory in your day-to-day dealings with your clients, and yes, I am talking about that takeaway coffee cup too.

On my desk I have:

  • 2x monitors
  • Wireless Mouse
  • Wireless Keyboard
  • Pen Pot
  • Filing Tray
  • Coaster
  • Diary

Sounds very minimal, that’s because for me a cluttered desk = a cluttered mind!

Filing

I understand that we are very much trying to save the environment and printing is a big no, so where you can, please do electronically store your documents. If however, you do have to print or receive hard copy documents, grab yourself some trays which you can stack and file away documents in this order IN | PENDING | OUT

  • IN – Things that have just come in
  • PENDING – Things that you are working on and/or require further action from you/somebody in your team
  • OUT – This means completed. Once complete you can set aside time daily/weekly to completely file this away in client files, or any other filing system that you may have

It is worth noting that if you no longer need the document(s) and it does not need to be filed, place it in the shredder. Alternatively, if the paperwork does not contain any sensitive information, use it as scrap paper instead of purchasing new notepads or post-it notes.

Ring binders will be helpful for your various client work, utilities, insurance info etc.

Personal Items

Try to limit the number of personal items you have in your desk area, that includes your mobile phone as they can cause distractions. You could put up some shelving to showcase any family photos, awards, quotes etc. Alternatively, how about a cute noticeboard that you can pin important reminders too.

Give everything a home

Place all your everyday items within easy reach, anything that is not required on a daily basis, place in a drawer close by but still within easy reach just in case you need to access quickly.

Keep it simple

Working from home has become our ‘new normal’ and sometime soon we may well head back into the office/co-working spaces but until then, let’s keep it simple. You don’t need to break the bank and splash out on lots of new things for your home office, keep it simple and house what you need. The only two items that must be reviewed is your chair and your screen. Ensure your screen is at a good level to avoid any neck and shoulder pain. Also, your chair should give you good support, I learned the hard way by investing in a chair that was more aesthetically pleasing to the eye. I now have a chair that gives you an active seating position and improves your posture.

You have to be focused on the space that you have. At a glance, I can see everything that I need. I don’t want to be a detective looking for a client document buried underneath thousands of receipts, that has been on my to-do list for forever and a day. The thought of it gives me anxiety and I hate the feeling of stress for no reason.

Start your working day with ease and by reading this far, I know you have already been thinking about how you can improve your home office space. You are already on your way towards a more productive workspace.

If you are still stuck or don’t fancy decluttering your space yourself then reach out. Organising is my thing and would love nothing more than to help you to do just that. Alternatively, if you are wanting to outsource something more, let’s get connected here.

You’ve Got Mail! Now What?

You’ve Got Mail! Now What?

We communicate heavily via email nowadays and running a business means you have endless conversations dropping into your inbox. You want to respond immediately as you want to deliver a great service, but you have a Zoom meeting in 5 minutes, what do you do? How can you possibly keep everyone happy whilst running your business?

Honestly, the bottom line is that yes, you want to stay on top of it all, but you cannot be everywhere especially in your inbox. Here are some tips to reduce the overwhelm and not fear your inbox.

Unsubscribe from those newsletters

At least once a week, we sign up for various freebies and newsletters. In order to grab that valuable download, you have to hand over your email address and you were happy to do it at that point. At 10:00am every Thursday, the offers roll in. Do you read them or scroll past them? If you scroll past and they are no longer useful, then please hit delete and unsubscribe. Remember you can always sign up again in the future if need be.

Streamline your inbox

Depending on your email provider, you may have the option to really streamline your inbox. You can categorise, add labels and folders to ensure you don’t miss any important bits that you would like to follow up sooner rather than later. If your email provider does not support this, you can go in and add flags to every email. With each colour, you can decide which colour relates to what. I use RED for important, AMBER for pending and GREEN to follow up. A number of my clients use Google Mail and they really like that you can do so much within the inbox to cut out the anxiety.

Archive old conversations

As much as we want to delete old conversations, how about archiving them just in case you need to refer back, in the future. It is good practice to do this at the end of your working day, so it does not feel like too much of a chore at the end of the week, or month, or year (daily is good peeps).

Allocate time for emails every day, and stick to it

In the world of business, time is money, so it is really important to manage your time well.

Allocate a set time for you to check your emails daily. Perhaps once in the morning and once towards the end of the day may work for you. I would also suggest if you generally have back-to-back meetings and you don’t have a chance to check in until the evenings, turn on an autoresponder that informs the sender when they can expect a response.

Try not to respond outside of office hours, keep all communication within office hours as you also need time to switch off and have time for you/family. Balance is key!

Turn off email notifications

As much as you set aside time blocks for emails, the endless pings of notifications will be a real temptation. Notifications can be a huge distraction especially when you are in your zone of genius creating magic. If this sounds familiar, just turn the notifications off and devote your time to what you love to do best.

Using the above tips will ease the feeling of inbox overwhelm.

Let’s get your inbox working for you. Email management is just one of the services that I offer as an Executive VA. If you would like to outsource that particular side of the business, let’s talk today [book in here]. You don’t have to do it all by yourself.

 

4 Tips to Improve Your Productivity

4 Tips to Improve Your Productivity

Sometimes it’s just too hard to get started or you get stuck in overwhelm mode. You know you need to do something, but you don’t know what it is, you just can’t get anything done.

It is time to take back control of your time. With the right tools, you can be a productivity pro in no time. Here are my top tips to help you ‘optimize’ your productivity for better focus, less stress and increase your profits.

My top tips are:

Look at your week ahead

Write a summary of everything that is happening in your week. It can be bullet points or a couple of lines, don’t stress too much but do have an idea of what your week looks like.

If you use a booking tool on your website or social media handles, your availability is all up to date (and saved). You do not want to be caught out sitting in the dentist chair, while a potential client is waiting for you to jump on Zoom.

Diary Management

You will have use of a diary whether it is a paper diary or an electronic one. I use both but prefer my paper diary. Cross-reference the two, to ensure they mirror each other. This will stop any items from clashing. If something is cancelled, update both.

Checking on your availability is good to do but don’t just check what you have booked in, look at exactly what you will be doing at those times. In between these meetings, what else could you be doing? Working for yourself means you have a lot to remember.

Create a to-do list

Your to-do list is the flow of the business in your life. I will always do this the day before so I’m clear when I get to my desk the next morning, I am already a step ahead. Studies show we tend to do approximately 3 hours of deep, focused work a day. You could also focus on the most important tasks first. There is no better feeling than ticking off completed tasks.

Turn off notifications

As a rule of thumb, I check and respond to emails twice a day. Once in the morning and once in the afternoon. This helps me to stay focused on tasks rather than dipping in and out of my mailbox. Place your phone on silent or put it in another room. Create a distraction-free work environment.

If you are looking for some productivity tools, here are the ones I’ve tried and tested myself:

My top one is Asana. I am a Certified Asana Pro and always recommend this tool, it also integrates with many other apps which you may use within your own business.

Asana is your task management tool to manage all your work projects. Check off, organise, assign, and get things done.

Following closely behind:

  • Trello
  • Evernote
  • Slack

These tips are bound to put a spring into your productivity step.

There are of course many more ways to manage your time and help you to work more productively. Find what works for you. You can do it!