Archive for the ‘Administrative’ Category


Thinking Of Upgrading Your Software?

September 10, 2008

Think Again! 

No, I don’t mean “don’t do it” I mean think about it once again. 

Why do you want to upgrade and who will it affect? I recently had to make that decision myself as to upgrading from Office 2002, so I am sharing my own thought processes.

5 Things to Consider:

1. Others 

Will others be affected by the change?  Will employees, vendors, customers, clients or service providers, have difficulties interfacing with you?  Remember, if you make it difficult for people to work with you, they may choose to go elsewhere!

2. Compatibility

Are there programs that you simply must use in the course of your business? Will the new software be compatible? If file sharing is something you do, will others that share your files have problems accessing what you have done with their older versions of the same program?

3. “Buggy” Software

Some software is notoriously “buggy” when first released.  Others work like a charm.  Do your homework.  If the one you are considering is one that has a tendency to be “buggy” do you have the patience to work through the problems until a service pack is provided to address those issues?  If not, you may want to wait until those issues have been addressed. 

4. Opinions

If you belong to a network of people in your industry, ask their opinion.  Get a consensus based on people with your same skill level and level of patience. Is this something you can quickly pick up on your own, or are you going to need to take a class or e-course to bring yourself up to speed?

5. New and/or multiple computers

This is the one case where it is more important (from a financial standpoint) to determine if you should downgrade the new computer or upgrade the old, or perhaps run both versions on different computers.  Think long and hard how you can best serve: Your customer base, your patience level, and your personal learning curve.  If you have one or more computers running on an older platform it may be financially sound to consider a downgrade for the newer computer.  On the other hand, having the ability to switch back and forth from older to newer might make it a win-win.

Ultimately, the decision is yours! 

As for myself, I made the decision to go with the newer software. This decision was made because I had to replace my desktop and my laptop within a few months of each other.  Both computers came with Vista.  I asked my colleagues for their advice and several of them have said, once they got used to it, they preferred Office 2007 to older versions. Fortunately, my client base is such that an upgrade will go unnoticed. I considered taking classes through the local Adult Education, but have set that on the back burner for now.  I know from past experience this is a great resource for bringing my skill level up to date.

Community Colleges and Adult Education: Great ways to increase your awareness and update your skills. Using your favorite search engine, type in the name of your city and either “Adult Education” or “Community College” to find a school close to you. Most will have the curriculum online and many offer online courses as well.


Gary the Gizmo Guru

January 13, 2008

Gary was the Gizmo Guru. He even had the awards and accolades to prove it!  Twenty years of working in the Gizmo and Gadget industry had given him the skills and industry knowledge to sell Gizmos better than anybody. The problem was Godfrey’s Gizmos & Gadgets wanted him to sell an equal number of Gadgets. And he hated Gadgets! 

So Gary took some Business courses and opened up Gary’s Gizmos working from his home office. He had a few contacts, but was busy making more every day. Gary knew that relationships were the key to selling Gizmos. Gary wore all the hats. He was the Marketing Exec, the Bookkeeper, even his own IT guy and he did all the administrative stuff too. Gary really began to miss Gidget, the sales team Administrative Assistant. He had never truly appreciated all the hard work she had put into keeping him organized and on track. He thought, “well I can find my own Administrative Assistant to work for me.” 

He remembered his business courses told him about hiring employees. He went back to his books and looked up the chapter on Employees which referred him to the IRS and his state’s web sites. He was dismayed to learn that the cost of hiring an employee was far more than just the employee’s salary. There was insurance, taxes, and more that nearly quadrupled what he thought an employee would be paid. And when he learned that highly skilled Administrative Assistants were paid far above minimum wage, he knew he couldn’t go that route. As he looked around his small office he thought “and where would I put her?”

It was getting late, and he still didn’t have anything in the house to fix for dinner. He headed off to the store to pick up a few groceries and promised himself he would take a look and see what else was out there on the internet. Surely someone had come up with a solution for the solo-prenuer.

As he was picking up a tomato from the produce department he heard a cheery voice behind him say, “Gary, is that you? How’s the Gizmo gig going?”  It was none other than Gidget! 

“I was just thinking about you,” Gary said, “and before you say anything else, I want you to know how much I appreciated all you used to do. I never appreciated it until I had to do it all myself!” 

Gidget blushed and laughed, thanking him for the compliment.

Gary went on to tell her about his latest dilemma about finding someone to take on his Administrative tasks so he could focus more on selling.

Gidget couldn’t believe what she was hearing!  She told Gary about a group of individuals that call themselves Virtual Assistants or VAs. She told him they are highly skilled Administrative Professionals that work with small business owners like Gary to help take care of the Admin stuff so they could spend more time on things that bring in money. She admitted to him that she was looking into starting her own VA Business and quitting her job at Godfrey’s. But not until after her 2 year anniversary. She would be vested in her 401K and would be able to take that money with her when she left!

Gidget told Gary about a wonderful group of individuals at the Virtual Assistance Chamber of Commerce (VACOC). She had checked out the site herself, purchased a few forms and read everything she could find on the industry. She knew that the VACOC had a directory where Gary could find the perfect guy or gal for Gary’s Gizmos.

Gary was so happy he picked up Gidget in a bear hug. She had provided him with exactly what he needed, when he needed it. He thanked her and rushed to the checkout so he could look up this new industry, Virtual Assistance. He just knew this was the solution he was looking for! 

Okay, it’s a little corny, but if this sounds like a scenario you’ve played out in your business, it really is time to see if a Virtual Assistant is for you!



November 22, 2007

If you find yourself bogged down with the business of running your business, you may need a Virtual Assistant or VA. A VA can set up systems and procedures to free you from time consuming tasks that eat away at your billable hours. Finding the right VA takes time. Because the work is collaborative, it is important that you find the right fit for you and your business. Too often, business owners become overwhelmed and decide they need help. They contact a Virtual Assistant without knowing why and have the wrong expectations. Here are seven common mistakes business owners make when trying to hire a Virtual Assistant:

1. They don’t understand what a Virtual Assistant is or does

A Virtual Assistant is a highly skilled administrative professional working from his or her own office, utilizing their own equipment. Virtual Assistants are not at your beck and call, they work more like an attorney, accountant or billing service providing you with a set number of hours per month on a retained basis. It is your responsibility to make sure you use those hours. A few VAs will also take on “pay-as-you-go” (PAYG) work as well. A competent VA should have a minimum of 5 years working in upper level administrative positions in the brick and mortar work place before stepping out to start their own business. They may, or may not have additional training or certificates.

What a VA does is create a collaborative working partnership with you to help you succeed. They create systems and procedures to streamline your business and help it flow in a logical, intentional way. They do the things that eat away at your time and prevent you from being most effective.

2. They don’t know what they want their Virtual Assistant to do for them

Virtual Assistance is the new buzz word and often business owners’ call without knowing what they want their VA to do. That is certainly okay if you are over burdened and don’t have a clue yet what you should handle or your VA should handle. But before you contact a VA have an idea of what the administrative tasks are that you do on a regular basis. Know the types of administrative jobs that are bogging down your business. Take time to think about what it is you are doing that is eating away at your time as well as things you just hate to do. A quick way to do this is to take one week and write down all the non-billable, administrative things you do and the time it takes to do them. See how much more money you would be making if even 50% of that time were billed to your clients. Or for those looking for more free time, what fun things could you do with those free hours? Chances are, the right VA will love what you hate!

3. They shop for price and not for value

Stop thinking in terms of “how much will this cost me” and think of how this will save you time, energy and yes, in the long run even money. We all know that running ourselves ragged is not the answer to a successful business. “Work smarter, not harder” is the mantra of small business owners, and VAs are the smart solution.

4. They expect their VA to be and do all things

In this day and age, so many people are looking for someone that does it all. VAs are not bookkeepers, web designers, and graphic artists. They are first and foremost administrative professionals. That is not to say they cannot perform some of the duties typically assigned to a bookkeeper, web designer and graphic artist. And some will over these services at a different rate as part of their VA packages. Most are able to handle some billing, update existing websites and use graphic artwork to create brochures, newsletters or presentations. And if a VA or VA company says they can do anything and everything, beware. Every VA has their strength and weaknesses and the smart VA will know what they do best and not accept work that they don’t do well. You may find that two 10-hour retainers with two VAs works better than 1 20-hour retainer with a VA that might not do some things as well.

5. They have an employer/employee mentality

If you find yourself thinking of a VA in terms of being an employee, stop and ask yourself. Would you ever think of an attorney that you have hired on retainer in that manner? Probably not. VAs are consummate professionals that do not need babysitting nor do they jump just because you called. They are in the business of making your business run smoothly and if you have constant “emergencies” that need immediate attention, you either are holding on too tight or have hired the wrong VA for your business. On the other hand, if you are the type of person who needs to control every aspect of what your VA does, then perhaps a part time in house employee is best for you.

6. They do not respect their VA’s system and procedures

Many small business owners do not respect the VA as an equal in business. They forget that their VA has several clients and walk all over their boundaries. Since a VA works with – not for – several clients, it is important that their time be respected and the procedures they set in place adhered to.

7. They don’t look for a VA that is targeting their specific market

If you are a business coach, speaker, attorney, or horse breeder, do your due diligence and look for someone that is specifically targeting your profession. If you cannot find one that is in your exact field, then broaden your search a bit. By finding someone in your field, you are going to find that special connection of someone who speaks your language and understands your passions.

When searching for a Virtual Assistant, be sure you fully understand what a VA is and what he/she will do for your business. Look for one that is targeting your market, someone that speaks your language and understands your business. Realize that a superior VA will not be or do all things. Drop the employer/employee mentality. Understand that you are working with a business owner, like yourself, providing a service and partnering with you for mutual benefit. Understand the terrific value a VA will bring to you and your business. Respect their time and procedures. They are busy professionals just like you. Last, but not least, honestly appraise your ability to trust and let go. Can you trust another individual to do the work and use your time and money wisely? Even VAs that hire other VAs struggle with this one. It’s hard to let go of “your baby”. But letting go might be the most rewarding thing you do!