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What does IWD mean to me?

It’s International Women’s Day tomorrow, and while I have local events to attend to celebrate the day, I took a moment to think about what the day really means to me.BeBoldForChange

The theme this year is “Be Bold For Change.”

How do I interpret the theme, what will I do differently this year?

To me, Being Bold For Change means standing up for what I believe in. So here is what I believe…

I could ‘do’ something; Pay it forward to someone. Because opportunities don’t always present themselves, I choose to be a Kiva Supporter and this week I made 2 new loans to women who need a hand within their business. Because I believe Kiva is a great way to support those living in more challenging circumstances that I, I promoted Kiva within my network. If another person becomes a Kiva supporter that means I’ve made a small change to others also. Click here if you would like to know more about Kiva.

I could draw awareness to causes that I believe in. When I thought about this, I thought immediately of Rosie Batty, her story and her fight against domestic violence. I listened to Rosie speak last year for International Womens Day at a Business Chicks event. The statistic that two women are killed every week on average is terrifying. I made a pledge that day to stand with Rosie, tomorrow I will wear the Bandanna provided by her to confirm I continue to stand with Rosie against domestic violence. You too can, take the pledge to stand with Rosie.

Related: I Stand with Rosie

What else does IWD mean to me? It means leading by example, being a positive role model for my daughter and other younger women. With many influences in her life, I want her to learn from me how to be a positive person who can help within the society. Someone who is honest, hardworking, courteous and gives to others. I want to be someone she looks up to. I want to help her understand we are all equal – race, colour, religion or whomever we choose to love doesn’t define if we are better than the next person. This is not a change I plan to make tomorrow, it’s the actions I undertake every day to live my life to make my daughter proud to be a woman.

So as this article is finalised and you think about International Women’s Day, please consider how you can Be Bold For Change and make a difference this year.

By Sam Spence, Founder & Principal Executive Assistant, Executive Virtual Associate.

#BeBoldForChange

If you’d like to share your pledge, plans or thoughts on being bold for change, I’d love to hear about them.

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Date posted: 2017-03-07 | Comments(0)


10 Tasks to outsource to Virtual Assistant




By Sam Spence, Founder & Principal Executive Assistant, Executive Virtual Associate.

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Date posted: 2017-02-01 | Comments(0)


6 Changes you can make to go Green.

6 Tips to help your office go Green.



By Sam Spence - Owner & Executive Virtual Assistant,Executive Virtual Associate.

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Date posted: 2016-11-07 | Comments(0)


Looking back: Lessons from our first four years.

Four years is a lifetime for some! But if we are talking business journeys and it feel like a lifetime or life sentence, you’ve probably chosen the wrong business. We’ve all heard the statistics, many businesses don’t last more than 3 years and if a business reaches a 5 year milestone - its doing well!

Well, during October 2016, my little business will tick over 4 years in business. A milestone I am very proud of. Many close to me have heard me state before that I have learnt so much since commencing this journey, but upon reflection – what have I really learnt. What lessons would I share with others starting out?

1. It’s not who you know, but who knows you. I can’t recall who I first heard make this statement, but when you think about it, it really is true. It’s one thing to say you know the leader of this network or the CEO of that business, but does it really mean anything if they don’t know you? However, if someone knows you, your reputation is a lot stronger. You’re more likely to receive referrals, new introductions and connections – all potentially helping your business growth.
The value is in being known. Remember the statement; People do business with people they know, like and trust. It’s hard to start the partnership process if you are unknown!
How do you become known? Get active; network – both online and in real life; become involved in activities that you are passionate about – not everything needs to be about business; and of course some good PR!

Related: Should you really accept that LinkedIn connection request?

2. Give without expecting anything in return. By being generous with your knowledge, and sometimes time, with the goal of adding value to others, you will receive back in return. What I mean here, is if you can help someone on their journey, perhaps with an introduction, piece of advice or something else of value to them, you will receive the same in return without asking when the opportunity presents itself. Pay it forward and feel good about your contribution to someone else’s journey. You can also choose to pay it forward by supporting a charity, organisation or volunteer group. 

Related: Join us, and change a life with Kiva

3. Never stop learning. This point probably doesn’t need too much explaining, but whatever industry you are in, whatever stage your business is in; lessons on growth remain important. Learning can be in many different forms; Networking (yes, networking is more than just meeting people), reading (articles, books or papers), get a mentor or join a mentorship group, seminars/conferences (in real life or online), listening (podcasts, talking books) or even formal education (classes, diplomas, certificates). You get the picture, whatever method you prefer keep expanding your mind and your skillset.

Related: What you can learn from watching Shark Tank.

4. Celebrate Successes. This is something that comes easier for some than others, and the style of celebration is a personal choice. I’ve celebrated each year in business, but not with a big party, giveaway or anything extravagant. Instead, I thank those who have helped me in the past year. For other milestones and achievements, I like to share the news, I send a newsletter, post a tweet, update my LinkedIn profile. Others may take the day off, buy something special, or throw a party. Whatever your preferred method, make sure you take a moment to recognise what you done, soak up what achievement feels like and give yourself the credit you deserve.

5. Know your numbers. I’m a firm believer in planning; you can’t get from A to B without knowing how. Each year, at the anniversary of my business launch date, I plan the next year. I breakdown what I want the year’s success to look like into bite size pieces. I set my KPIs based on my years goals, then each month track my performance against these goals. At any time during the year, I know how I am progressing again my targets – with both growth indicators and business expenditure. If necessary, I make adjustments to ensure I remain on track.

Related: What can a Virtual Assistant do within 12 months?

6. Learn when to say Yes and when to say No. This might sound ambiguous, and honestly, saying yes and saying no, could have each been their own points in this article. Learning to say Yes to somethings you may not usually will open doors to new experiences. I recall when I was first asked to speak publicly. My initial reaction was No, but then I thought about the topic, the event and decided my fear of public speaking needed to be overcome. I met new people, shared my journey and accepted other invitations to speak, inadvertently becoming more well known. (I still have people saying to me when I first meet them “I saw you speak at X event”).
Saying No, will help you define what is important to you. Saying No to clients that don’t fit your ideal client model, will ensure you stay true to why you love your business. Saying No to new projects or extra time at work will help you be present for your loved ones.
Learning to say Yes or No at the right times takes courage, but you will see the rewards.

7. Know your ideal client. As mentioned in the paragraph above, when you know your ideal client your less likely to work with anyone and everyone. Instead, knowing your ...

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Date posted: 2016-10-02 | Comments(4)


Learning is the key to innovation.

I’ve just finished listening to a series of webinars as part of an online community of Women Entrepreneurs. As I listened and watched, I took notes on how I can improve, ideas I need to investigate further and action I need to take. This led me to think about how varied and self-paced my personal and professional development is. More importantly, how critical continual education is for challenging yourself and greater innovation.

Whatever your career path or industry, irrespective of your role, improving your knowledge base is key to progressing to the ‘next level’. The next level for you could be a new position in the company you work for, or greater success in your own business. It could be your opportunity to shine above your peers.

So how do you improve your knowledge base, test yourself and grow. Remembering that people learn at different speeds and in varied ways, here are my top 9 ways I like to learn.

1. Books. A traditional means to growing your knowledge base. There are so many wonderful business books these days on a variety of subjects that you will always find a resource on the topic you are looking to grow your knowledge with.
Learning from books can be inexpensive, particularly if you borrow from friends or your local library. Don’t forget eBooks from your favourite industry specialists.

Related: Book Review, Ready to Soar by Naomi Simson
Related: 10 Business books you should read this Summer

2. Articles. Blog posts and published articles are great ways to digest great content in bite size chunks. Just like this article, you can find valuable publications on every topic you can imagine via social media, newsletters or just by searching online. Although these articles are shorter than books, they can be just as helpful.

3. Workshops & Seminars. Face-to-Face conferences, workshops and seminars are great ways to increase your knowledge. Take care to review the speakers or presenters and the topics they will be sharing, but generally speaking, you will find valuable lessons from experts in their field. An additional benefit of face-to-face events is the opportunity to network at the same time.

Related: 8 tips Sir Richard Branson told me!

4. Online Summits & Seminars. Along the same lines as face to face seminars, but with the additional benefit of participating and learning from your own home, often at a time that suits you. Stay in touch with experts in your industry or topic of interest and register when they host an online event. As a member of IVAA, I have twice participated in their Online Summit. While the time zone doesn’t match well, the recordings are still valuable.

5. Podcasts. Podcasts are generally interviews or conversations that have been recorded and can be accessed at a time convenient to you. Topics, presenters and interviewees vary, but if you are keen to maximise your time, podcasts can be great to listen to when exercising or travelling.

My favourite podcasts are

· herBusiness – Insights for Women in Business. Suzi Dafnis interviews well known and successful business women (and sometimes men).

· Mamamia, I don’t know how she does it! This is sometimes hilarious, but always insightful looks into busy “Mumpreneurs” and how they juggle kids, business and everything else that makes them tick.

· The Honest CEO Show. Caroline Kennedy interviews some successful business owners and entrepreneurs who share their knowledge with the listeners.

6. Networking. People often think of networking as an opportunity to add to their collection of connections or worse – a chance to sell their business/product or service. Really, the true benefit in networking is buildingrelationships and learning. If you are walking into networking event looking to sell or collect business cards, it’s time you changed your mindset. Ask other attendees about their business, talk to them genuinely and I guarantee you will learn something new – a small tip, better perspective or something more valuable.

Related: 7 tips to improve your Networking

7. Mastermind Groups. Mastermindgroups are a wonderful way to informally grow your knowledge and overcome hurdles in your business. Think about bouncing your problem or idea to a handful of respected, trusted and motivated business professionals who have a wealth of experience that you can tap into.

Related: Mastermind Group; More than a Networking Group!

8. Mentoring or Coaching. While the difference between the two is obvious, being coached or mentored by someone who has achieved the results you are looking for, makes sense. A coach will guide you, strategize and challenge you to better success. They will teach you skills to move you to the next level, where as a mentor will guide you based on their own experience. Both are valuable to your development, perhaps at different stages in your career or business progression.

9. W...

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Date posted: 2016-09-21 | Comments(0)


Mastermind Group; More than a Networking Group!

I’m a member of a Mastermind Group that has been operating for close to 2 years.

Collectively we have more than 100 years of business experience, which has led to; 2 shortlisted businesses in the 2016 Bendigo Business Awards, 2 International Stevie Awards, greater success cashflow & client retention/growth, increased opportunities to showcase products/services, plus of course increased sales. We are a dedicated and knowledgeable network of people that can provide great business advice and support to each other.

Our group was created almost by accident. I saw an opportunity to continue networking with some well-respected and like-minded business owners I had grown to know, like and trust. Gradually our group evolved to include a variety of industries, with the same focus to achieve greater success in our business. We now draw on each other’s varying backgrounds for the benefit of our own businesses.

What is a Mastermind group?

A Mastermind group is a group of like-minded and trusted business owners who have a common goal to support each other in business growth and success. Simply put a group of peers who meet regularly to brainstorm ideas, celebrate success and hold each other accountable.

Why should you be part of a mastermind group?

Mastermind group members should all have the same values, and with a variety of knowledge and experience will bring;

1. Solutions to problems you may be having in your own business

2. A sounding board for you to discuss ideas or concerns.

3. A different perspective on overcoming certain hurdles.

4. Opportunity to hold you accountable for your goals.

5. Expand your professional network.

6. Learn about new business ideas, resources or news that you may not otherwise have been exposed to.

7. Reassurance that you are not on your business journey alone.

Tips for a successful group

1. Choose your group or members carefully. It is key to the groups success that you have some alignment with common values, drive & ambition, commitment, and goals. Plus, you need to like and trust each other. How can you open up about your business circumstances without mutual respect?

2. Set regular meeting times. Because everyone’s time is valuable, ensure your meeting runs to time and each attendee has equal opportunity to talk about their business. When you fail to value each other’s time and instead focus on your own agenda, the collaboration disappears.

3. Follow an agenda.It is important that the time taken away from your day-to-day businesses remains beneficial. Have specific questions/topics for the meeting and share the agenda ahead of time so all members can prepare and participate equally.

4. Have common and agreed guidelines for the group. This could include; inviting new members, setting an agenda, meeting time and location, members choosing to exit the group, membership costs, etc. You may choose to document these decisions, and share them with new members as they join your group.

5. Refrain from negativity. Members attend to be improve their businesses; negative comments change the meeting mood. Take any internal concerns between members offline.

Participating in a Mastermind Group is not necessarily an alternative to mentoring or coaching, but should be seen as a complimentary activity to support your ongoing business success.

If you have your own Mastermind experience or tip to share, I’d love to hear about it, please share it in the comments below.

by Sam Spence – Owner & Principal Executive Assistant, Executive Virtual Associate.

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Date posted: 2016-08-25 | Comments(3)


Book Review – Ready to Soar, by Naomi Simson

It seems from the contents of the book to read as a guide book for entrepreneurs. In fact, Naomi states within the introduction that this book is intended to help your dreams come true on your journey to entrepreneurial freedom. Ready to Soar

“I want to help you control your business, rather than your business controlling you.” Naomi Simson

The pages are intertwined with valuable quotes from internationally renowned celebrities, fun facts, and activities, as well as Naomi’s experiences.

My business is moving from the start-up phase, and I do wish I had read this book before I jumped into my entrepreneurial journey. In the last 3 plus years, I’ve considered the impact of my business on my personal life and lifestyle – not something I thought about initially. Naomi reminds the reader to consider how your business will impact your personal budget and time, plus how many adjustments you are prepared to make or sacrifice for your business success. Do you think of nothing else except your business?

When you are preparing for your business launch or progression to the next level, ensure you draw on past experiences and learn as much as you can via connections, mentors and the like. Ensure you have contingency plans that include an exit strategy, business growth and need for additional funds to name a few.

The third part of the book talks about pitching your business. And before you write this section off, consider the following quote from Natalie Massenet that Naomi included within the book.

“Never forget that you only have one opportunity to make a first impression – with investors, with customers, with PR and with marketing”

Learning to pitch your business is more than asking investors for money. It’s about knowing your business inside & out, knowing who to trust and knowing how to conduct yourself professionally to attract more clients, staff, mentors and valuable partnerships.

Ready to Soar talks about partnerships. Does every business need one? What role will the partner play within the business? How do you choose the most successful partner? If partnership is on your businesses agenda, this book will help you assess these questions and more to ensure your business success continues to grow.

Related: 10 Business books you should read this Summer.

What are my take away lessons from this book?

1. Re-read it again within the next 12 months. My business is on a growth curve, and although I have plans for the future and a mentor to help me along the way, I’m certain I will face new hurdles that I haven’t yet considered, and the best approach may just be between the pages of Ready to Soar.

2. Continue to understand my numbers. Each month I delight in collecting the data on my business that forms my KPIs. Knowing these numbers and reviewing them each month keeps me in touch with areas within my business that are travelling well, but also areas that may need more attention. I have a good accountant (who is a member of my mastermind group) and he is a constant source of valuable information.

3. Get to know my customers better. Defining my ideal client is an ever-evolving task I undertake and revisit within my business. I’ve never been completely satisfied with my definition. Naomi has included an activity within the pitching section of the book coaching readers to list all the things we don’t know about our customers or potential customers. From there we are to record where to get the answer from. I think this approach is not only refreshing, but tackles the problem realistically.

4. Learn to tell my story in a more memorable way. Naomi touched on this within the pitching section, and I will spend more time refining and practicing my story to excite those listening. I’ve heard Naomi speak previously, and I know it took 2 months and 4 days for Red Balloon to secure its first customer. How do I know this? Naomi’s story was amazing and memorable! (Plus, she reminded me within her book)

Who is this book for?

Initially I assumed this book was for those yet to embark on their business journey, or at least very early on in their venture. However, having now read it cover to cover, and being a solopreneur who is (at the time of writing) in her fourth year of business – I believe it is valuable to any business owner, inventor or entrepreneur who is ready to start, within the initial years or has a more established business ready to progress to the next stage.

Have you read Ready to Soar? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the book.

Download our complimentary eBook: Outsourcing is not a dirty word.

By Sam Spence - Owner & Executive Virtual Assistant, Executive Virtual Associate.


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Date posted: 2016-06-21 | Comments(6)


Why you should be watching Shark Tank!

If you've never watched the Network 10 TV show Shark Tank, I recommend you do. Particularly if you're a buddy entrepreneur or a business owner, or your business needs that something! The basis of the show is that business owners and entrepreneurs pitch their business idea’s to a panel of experienced & successful entrepreneurs (Sharks), seeking mentorship and financial investment.

The Sharks listen to each pitch, ask questions and make a decision whether or not to invest their own funds in the business. So what do the sharks look for when making the decision to invest.

· Know your numbers. Cashflow for every business is critical, but knowing your numbers is more than that. Decision making within your business needs to include the cost to run your business, profit performance over recent years, projected income, churn rates and expenses as well as contractual agreements. If you aren’t aware of your numbers and aren’t regularly reviewing them, it will only be a matter of time before you are caught out financially. If you don’t understand your numbers, how can you expect others to trust your business decision making. No Shark will invest in an entrepreneur who can’t provide details of financial situations when asked.

· Understand your target market and competitors. Every business owner and entrepreneur is constantly reminded to know their target market and ideal client. Failing to grasp what your ideal client wants, needs and desires will see you waste money on advertising. Ensure you can demonstrate that you are customer centric – you know what matters to them and what frustrates them.

· Show your passion. Remember not all investors will see the same value as you, so your pitch will need to be professional, accurate and clearly display your passion for your business as well as its success. Pitching your idea or business can be confronting, particularly if it’s before 5 successful entrepreneurs. Being devoted to your business is critical, should reflect in your pitch. As Steve Baxter has clearly stated before on the show – Why should he invest his money if you’re not 100% invested in your own business?

· Have a business plan. Contestants on the Shark Tank are pitching for cash investment and mentorship. A plan will help you define your path to success, including innovation and growth for the future. How can you ask for investment and guidance if you don’t know your own plans for the future?

· Know your investors. When selecting an investor, other than providing cash for your business consider what else can they bring to help your business grow. Choosing the right ‘Shark’, will open the door to new business connections in the right industry, perhaps real-life solutions to obstacles you may also encounter, or a foot in the door in the overseas market you are looking to expand into. Remember the right investment partner will be worth more to you than the funds they inject into your business.

So whether you plan to pitch your business idea on Shark Tank, or not – Shark Tank is one TV program that can teach you how to start or operate a better business.

In closing, remember not to underestimate who you are pitching too. If you’ve chosen the right investor to help take your business to the next level, respect the feedback they provide to you – irrespective of their decision to invest. The words they offer you in response to your pitch will be lessons on their own.

If you are pitching for investment & mentorship – Good Luck.

If you enjoyed this post, click here to join our mailing list.

by Sam Spence – Founder & Principal Executive Assistant, Executive Virtual Associate.


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Date posted: 2016-06-02 | Comments(2)


Turn on Notifications! Is it worth it?

You’ve probably seen the posts suggesting you turn on notifications for different pages, but what does this really mean?


The reason behind this trend is that Instagram has changed the algorithms. Following Facebook, Instagram now aims to show you posts they think you will enjoy, based on your user history. They believe this change will make your experience on Instagram more enjoyable and ensure you don’t miss out on posts from other users you would appreciate.

Related: 8 Common Instagram Mistakes You Could Be Making

The suggestion to turn on notifications is to ensure you don't miss posts from your favourite Instagrammers. By turning on the notifications for their profile, you will receive a push notification whenever they post a photo.

While this might sound like a great idea, will receiving a notification (or multiple notifications) from profiles you like encourage you to engage with them, or will the repeated notifications just annoy you?

To test this movement, I turned on the notifications for one profile I follow, but honestly it hasn’t made a single difference in how often I engage with them. I received a notification they had posted a new photo, but it hasn’t encouraged me to visit the post or the profile. After a while I turned off the notifications. I still follow the profile – they have good content. But how many users have turned on notifications for several profiles, only to get fed up with the post alerts and unfollow the profile that initially encouraged the notifications to be turned on.

So, what should you do? My advice is to do 2 things.

1. Don’t beg for your followers to do anything – including turning on notifications, and

2. Post good content. Good content will always triumph.

By posting good content, content that your followers recognise you for, will in turn encourage your true followers to visit your profile to see if they have missed anything, and over time your posts will remain in their feeds. Quality content will always prevail.

Related: Is it okay to recycle your content?

So next time you see a “Turn on Notifications” post, think twice before you follow the request.

Thanks for reading, and if you have an opinion about this topic, I’d love to hear about it.

If you enjoyed this post, click here to join our mailing list.

by Sam Spence – Founder & Principal Executive Assistant, Executive Virtual Associate.


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Date posted: 2016-05-08 | Comments(0)


The Secrets to Working Smarter, Not Harder

Life is busy! We are constantly taking on more and more, often meaning we are running from event to event, losing sleep and missing out on downtime. If you have children, more than likely you are even busier meeting their sporting, school and social commitments! Perhaps the work-life balance is a myth, but we can always learn new tips to be more effective with our time.

When you are passionate about your career, business or role, it’s hard to see that you are doing the lion share, and working like a woman (or man) possessed. But working smarter by definition means achieving greater results with less or the same effort being more demanded on yourself.

Try these tips to help you become more productive!

Use an electronic calendar. By using an online calendar, you not only have all your engagements at your fingertips, but you can also share your meetings, events and engagements with your partner, assistant and/or team. Sharing calendar access with those who make appointments on your behalf or help you manage your commitments, will save time.
Tips to make your calendar more effective;

· Colour code different events (family, business, etc)

· Include new events promptly

· Invite other attendees directly

· Include critical information such as locations to the entry

Communicate clearly. Whether in business or in personal life, miscommunication can lead to additional – heartache, expense and/or time! Slow down and take the time to communicate your instructions, needs or expectations clearly. Also listen to those you communicate with, they could be sharing vital information that will make your project, event or meeting a success.

Don’t delay. If you have a task that needs your attention, avoid procrastination and “Eat That Frog”. Delaying making a decision or completing a project can impact others in your workflow process. This includes managing your emails. Use the 3D rules of email management to help avoid delays;

1. Do. Action the email immediately

2. Delete. If the email doesn’t need your attention – delete it. Unsubscribe to lists that are no longer providing value to you.

3. Delegate. For those emails that need to be completed, but not necessarily by you.

Get a Mentor (or two!) A mentor who has already achieve the goals you are working towards can help guide you when hurdles arise. Choose your mentor wisely as they must be someone you trust. The right mentor will provide you with a wealth of knowledge & experience that should save you time and perhaps even money. You may have different mentors for different aspects of your business stage, but they should all have the same outcome – they bring out the best in you!

Take time for you. The best way to avoid burnout by taking on too much and not slowing down is to take regular breaks for you. “You Time” could be exercise, time with family or friends or undertaking a hobby. Whatever activity you undertake, try to incorporate it into your routine with a regular ritual. Schedule time each week for you to take a break – a visit to the gym, walk with the dog, a family day or regular day off. Book it in, make it not-negotiable and enjoy it!

Hire an assistant! This tip comes directly from the pages of The Accidental Entrepreneur by Boost Juice Founder, Janine Allis. According to Janine, the first person you should hire is an assistant. In many cases, you are your business, but if your valuable time is being taken up with less important tasks such as social media, follow up phone calls and even smaller errands – consider freeing up your time by partnering with a personal, executive or virtual assistant.

Do you have more suggestions on how to be more productive with your time? We’d love to you to share them below.

If you enjoyed this post, click here to join our mailing list.

by Sam Spence – Founder & Principal Executive Assistant, Executive Virtual Associate.


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Date posted: 2016-05-04 | Comments(2)


Is it okay to recycle your content?

Creating great content is crucial for success online, especially via social media. Your content marketing needs to resonate with your target audience, encouraging them to engage and stay connected with you. You need to be true to your brand and allow your authenticity to shine through.

“The best way to promote content, is to create content so good, that you don’t need to promote it”, Dan Norris

Creating good content can be difficult, sometimes even like hard work. The results you are striving for should be the focus of your content – what message are you trying to share, what call to action are you wanting your reader to undertake? When your results are hit and miss, consider the type, time and message of your content.

The time of day can be a huge factor. If you’re not using analytics to guide your posting schedule, then you are really just hoping your content reaches your ideal clients.

By varying the types of content you publish will also see a variation in your results – humour, tips, inspiration, specials, news, and links will all provide different results. Again take notice of the analytics available to gain an understanding of the most successful posts.

Considering that social media fans may be on various platforms at different times of the day – it makes sense to recycle your content at different times of the day, and days of the week.

Many social media marketers use a calendar to record the content shared, comparing this with the analytics and a pattern can be established on recycling.

Tips when deciding to reuse content;

· Repost at different times and days as originally posted.

· Consider if this content is relevant to your ideal client.

· Use analytics to determine optimal posting times and post performance.

· Follow a strategy. Posting without a plan rarely achieves results.

· Review your content before reposting to avoid posting out of date information.

· Use different social media platforms to reach your ideal client.

· Take care with frequency of reposting. If you are reposting too frequently you may turn followers away.

So in short, it is acceptable to recycle your content providing it fits with your marketing strategy and the re-sharing is not too frequent or repetitive.

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By Sam Spence – Founder & Principal Executive Assistant, Executive Virtual Associate.


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Date posted: 2016-04-27 | Comments(0)


8 Instagram Mistake You Could Be Making

Instagram is becoming more and more popular for business use, but if you aren’t seeing improvement in your engagement with fellow Instagrammers then perhaps you are making some of the more common mistakes.

If you are doing any of the following you could be detracting from your Instagram experience.

1. Don’t flood the newsfeed with various images of the same subject or event. Pick one image, one angle and share that post with your followers.

2. Avoid using poor quality images. Take time to get the lighting, angle and size right. The best quality image will always achieve better results.

3. Never repost another Instagram users image without attributing the original owner, and definitely don’t alter the image. Use an app such as Repost to regram the image with credit to the original Instagrammer.

4. Avoid posting images not owned by you (ie copied from google or other search results). Without obtaining permission you could find yourself in breach of copyright and in the midst of a legal battle.

Related: Copyright - Do the right thing & avoid breaches.

5. Don’t ignore your followers. If a follower engages with you via a comment to your post, respond. Match your response to the comment effort. Remember Instagram is a “social” media network.

6. Never use offensive language. Instagram is a representation of you and your brand. At all times you are on display.

7. Remember to complete your bio. Without including contact information, you could be missing conversion opportunities.

8. Don’t forget to adjust your privacy settings to public. Your content can’t be viewed by referral partners and potential clients when you leave your settings as private.

Related: If you would like to get more out of your Instagram account, try our Top Tips.

This is not an exclusive list, if you’ve seen other faults, why not share them with us to help educate your fellow Instagrammers!

In closing remember Instagram is another opportunity for you to communicate with your community. You can use it to sell, but you will have better results if you gradually build your relationships over time.

Remember to have fun with your Instagram posts, and follow @execva for more tips. Join us for the next Instagram Photo Challenge by registering here.

If you enjoyed this post, click here to join our mailing list.

by Sam Spence – Founder & Principal Executive Assistant, Executive Virtual Associate.


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Date posted: 2016-04-02 | Comments(0)


Australian Virtual Assistants Conference (AVAC) 2016

People are often amazed when I mention the annual Australian VA Conference. The next thing that usually comes out of their mouths is something along the lines of “But you work in a virtual world, why do you need to attend a conference in real life?”

Virtual Assistants In Real Life!

Virtual Assistants, Sandra, myself & Julie - In Real Life!

Our industry is growing rapidly, and like every other industry – we need personal development to continue with our business goals and hurdles. Thanks to the AVAA committee, we have an annual conference for that exact purpose – 2 days of quality speakers sharing their wisdom, tips and suggestions.

Related: What happens when the room is full of Virtual Assistants?

Just like any conference, workshop or event, you take away key messages that are relevant to you and your business! My key take-a-ways were;

· For those outsourcing,there is a strong preference for using local service providers (61%). This good news was provided by Robert Gerrish and the Flying Solo Community Survey.

· In typical and animated style, Katrena Friel reminded us that you should not classify yourself as Extroverted or Introverted, but instead recognise that you have a range, and learn to apply that range depending on the situation you are participating with.

· When considering a new direction, partnership or arrangement, do you ever ask yourself “Does this align with my Vision and Values?”. This should be a good temperature check to help you make the right decision for you and your business. Angela Counsel shared this piece of wisdom.

· Did you know close to 3,000 people will die from air pollution in Australia this year? What a scary thought. I’ve always been worried about the impact we are making on earth for future generations, and was pleased to see Climate Change on the agenda. Judging from the conversations within the room, and with a vast array of stats, Andrew Woodward didn’t disappoint. Fellow VAs commented they now have a better understanding of the impact they are making and how they can turn it around to work towards reversing the effect on the environment.

Related: Read our previous article on how we are saving the planet (one small step at a time).

· Tara O'Connell reminded us that with self-belief, setting strong foundations and focussing on the skills gap, we can do anything we set our minds to. Tara also provided me with my takeaway quote: Outsource anything that makes your eyes glaze over! I have many more scribbled notes from Tara that will keep me motivated and on track to success.

· How important is your health? Another important takeaway from AVAC was courtesy of Rosemary Marchese. A business cannot function without good health – particularly for solopreneurs. I’m more focussed and aware of my health and fitness (not obsessed) as I get older and try to lead a good example for my children. After all, without my health I can’t operate my business.

So once again, I return from a motivating and educational VA Conference. My head and notepad are full of ideas to improve my business and better support the businesses of my clients. I’ve connected with new VAs, who are progressing through the start-up phases, as well as those who have been established in their business for some time, and of course even a fellow VA who has supported the EVA team without meeting face to face until this conference.

Related: Curious about previous years? Read our review of AVAC2013 and AVAC2014

by Sam Spence- Owner & Executive Virtual Assistant, Executive Virtual Associate.

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Date posted: 2016-03-22 | Comments(0)


I stand with Rosie Batty

I am a proud Business Chick, so when Emma Isaacs and her team announced Rosie Batty would be the guest speaker for their International Womens Day lunch, I jumped at the opportunity to grab my ticket and be in the room.

The event was a sell-out, and the room was clearly packed with fellow chicks who, like me, are amazed with Rosie’s resilience to get up each day after such a tragic end to her son Luke’s life. Rosie has been thrust into the media spotlight for a reason she wishes never happened. People know who she is because the worst thing in a parent’s life happened to her. She didn’t ask to be recognised at airports across the country. She would have been more than happy to be just like me, heading to school for parent teacher interviews, trudging from one sporting event to another, and nagging for bedrooms to be cleaned, but tragically this is not the case.

When I walked into the Grand Hyatt on International Womens Day, I already knew Rosie’s story. I had just finished reading her book, A Mother’s Story, a week earlier. What I wondered was how was she going to address the room. What inspiration, wisdom and motivation was she going to share with us?

Some of you may be aware, but prior to Luke’s death, Rosie had made a very distinctive career change in to the welfare field. She has undertaken study to make a difference to individuals who needed support and someone to guide them. Since Luke’s death, Rosie has found her voice and become a supporter, crusader and survivor of family violence.

As Rosie spoke to us, she highlighted the statistics that we’ve heard many times before, 1 in 3 women are victims of family violence, and 1 woman each week as a result of family violence. That last statistic is now outdated – 2 women die each week as a result of domestic violence. That’s more than 100 women every year whose stories aren’t heard!

Family violence has touched a close friend, a former work colleague, a school mum and even a fellow Business Chick sharing my table at the Rosie Batty luncheon, fortunately, each person I know as a family violence victim is also a survivor. Fortunately, they found their voice and are now safe, but how many remain silent?

I stand with RosieRosie gave every woman (and man) in the room one challenge. Help her get the message across Australia that family violence is not okay. We need to stand with Rosie and say no to family violence. Encourage our sisters and brothers to do the same. Empower those without a voice to find an avenue to speak and be safe. We all deserve to be safe, no one should take that away from us.

Remember one thing; 1800 RESPECT. This phone number can be used to connect victims with the lifeline they need. Please join me as I stand with Rosie to say no to family violence and yes to gender equality.

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by Sam Spence – Owner & Principal Executive Assistant, Executive Virtual Associate.

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Date posted: 2016-03-10 | Comments(4)


Surprising Requests of a Virtual Assistant

This article has been developing in my head for some time. It originated from being asked again and again what does a VA actually do!

The tasks and projects we are often asked to complete are usually of the admin nature – newsletters, social media, document formatting, diary management and more. But every so often we are asked to complete a task out of the ordinary. Here are a few ‘out of the box’ projects we have completed since EVA launched.

One of our clients is a solopreneur and to publicise an upcoming project, she was to be involved in a media photo shoot. The only problem – she would be away during the week the photo shoot was scheduled. As her virtual assistant, I was the closest thing to an employee for her and was required to step in to represent her and her business.

We have clients all over the country, including Sydney. One of our Sydney based clients had been at a networking event and misplaced her keys. Once we were alerted to the loss, we stepped in to locate the keys (they had fallen out of her handbag in a taxi) and have them returned to her. We did this within 5 hours from another state, while our client continued with her appointments uninterrupted.

What do you do, when as a solopreneur, you wake up unwell – too unwell to work and you have a full day of appointments. This happened to one of our clients, but because we had an established partnership including access to her contacts and calendar, we were able to contact everyone in her calendar and reschedule the appointments while my client rested and recuperated.

For retail and hospitality business owners, knowing your team provide consistent service to the highest standard can almost be guess work. We’ve posed as customers on more than one occasion and mystery shopped our client’s outlet, giving them feedback on the service we received, and the cleanliness of the premises.

We have been asked to shop for a gift to be given to a connection of a client. The brief was vague, but the location from which the gift was to represent and the budget were specified. The brief for the recipient was just as ambiguous. From the name, we established the employer, occupation and a snippet of information via google. Settling on a gift that didn’t include food, alcohol or clothing, the relationship between my client and his new connection was strengthened.


Because our clients are from varying backgrounds, industries and locations – we are often known as the “go to girl” when they are looking for someone or something to help them out. This happened recently when a client had a sitter (a person who sits as a subject for art students) cancel at the last minute. Our client called me to see if we could help, sure enough we could find someone to help him out within a few hours. Later, the same client said we were the first person he thought of to call at his time of need. This was great feedback to receive.

So as you can see, a day in the life of a Virtual Assistant is rarely duplicated. We often have to think on our feet, and explore creative solutions to our clients’ needs.

Download our complimentary ebook: Outsourcing is not a dirty word.

by Sam Spence – Owner & Principal Executive Assistant, Executive Virtual Associate.


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Date posted: 2016-02-20 | Comments(5)


Top Tips for Instagram

If you would like to get more out of your Instagram account, try our Top Tips.

Top Tips for Instagram Success

Remember to have fun with your Instagram posts, and follow @execva for more tips.

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by Sam Spence – Founder & Principal Executive Assistant, Executive Virtual Associate.

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Date posted: 2016-01-17 | Comments(0)


10 Business books you should read this Summer.

The summer months are a great time to catch up on your reading. Over the last 3 plus years my library has grown to include several business books. Sometimes I read them from cover to cover, others just the relevant chapters. I've put together a quick list of my top 10 books.

10 Business Books

In no particular order here are the books I recommend;

  1. 101 Ways to Advertise your business & 101 Ways to really satisfy your customers by Andrew Griffiths. Both of these book are easy to digest and have practical tips with varying levels of impact. Every business and industry is different, and techniques to advertise are not a ‘one size fits all’. 101 Ways to Advertise your business will not only help you to think differently about advertising, it also includes smart advertising words and phrases that can help you craft the best eye catching content. For those in the service industry, the main difference between you and your competitors, is how your customer feels when they buy from you. 101 Ways to really Satisfy your customers provides great advice on attracting new clients and retaining your current ones.

  2. The Art of Social Media by Guy Kawasaki & Peg Fitzpatrick. This book includes more than 120 power tips on taking your social media marketing to the next level, encompassing twitter, google+, LinkedIn and more. Of course, he also touches on using canva (the online design service that he holds the position of Chief Evangelist). This book will explain tips such as Be Thankful, Be Sly and Using the right tools.

  3. Web Marketing that works by Adam Franklin & Toby Jenkins. Adam & Toby founded the Australian based marking team Bluewire Media, and always provide valuable tips, content and even checklists. Purchasing this book was a no brainer for me as they have proven themselves time and time again to provide quality content. They are not new to the online marketing world and this book is another great resource that has helped my business grow online. It’s a book I refer back to from time to time.

  4. Oversubscribed by Daniel Priestly. If you are looking to grow your profile and in turn business, this book is a great read. This is my summer reading book, and I’ve found it hard to put down at times. It includes practical tips and real life examples to reinforce the message. If you follow me on twitter, you will know I’ve shared several quotes from this book, and there are more too come! Daniel doesn’t promise the book will have people lining up to do business with you after reading it, but if you adopt new strategies you can take your business to the next level.

  5. The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs by Carmine Gallo. The more I read about Steve Jobs, the more I learn that not everyone sees him as a positive role model. In this book you will learn the 7 principles of innovation that were inspired by Steve Jobs. While this book does include snippets into Steve’s personal life, it is not a biography. The snippets are used to explain a principle or strategy and why Steve chose to do things “Steve’s Way”. Each chapter ends with an iLesson, encouraging you to practice what was discussed during the chapter. This book, taught me to think differently and appreciate innovation in different ways.

  6. Leading the Starbucks Way by Joseph A. Michelli. This book explores why Starbucks is successful. Culture, leadership, passion, and customer experience are all covered by Joseph. Think about the title of chapter two; If you don’t have passion for your product, why should your customers? Are you passionate about your business? Do your customers see and feel that when they do business with you? Do your staff have the same passion for their role in your business?

  7. Likeable Social Media by Dave Kerpen. Dave is also the author of Likeable Business & Likeable Leadership. (I have them all and have read them). Dave doesn’t use marketing jargon, and his ‘angle’ is quiet simple – Be authentic, Listen to your customer and prospects, and deliver value and surprise. Using this formula – you will become likeable and people will want to do business with you. He gives examples on how he was surprised and created new partnerships. Dave is active on most social media platforms and you will learn from him, just by following him on your preferred platform.

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    Date posted: 2016-01-02 | Comments(0)


5 Tips to improve your LinkedIn networking.

5 LinkedIn tips to improve your online networking

Do you have a LinkedIn profile, but don’t ‘do’ much with it? Or perhaps you’ve heard about LinkedIn, but have not set yourself up yet. Either way, chances are you’re not using it to its full potential!

LinkedIn is a great resource for entrepreneurs, business leaders and even jobseekers to connect and broaden their network. Your success on LinkedIn, like many other aspects of life, is determined by how much you put into it.

Try our 5 tips to improve your online networking.

Optimise your profile. This means ensuring all fields are completed including a professional photo of yourself (not your logo) and any relevant keys words used by potential clients are included within your description.

Download our Complimentary LinkedIn Audit Checklist

Connect. Reach out and connect with people you know. Friends, work colleagues (current & former), business associates, and clients. Take the time to get to know what your connections are up to; you may learn about new skills and career paths your connections have. When you meet someone new at an event that you would like to stay in touch with, send them a connection request to join your network – but always personalise the invitation to confirm why you’d like to connect.

Join groups that are relevant to your industry, location or target market. There is a limit to the number of groups you can join, so if after being accepted into the group it doesn’t jell with you, leave and find a group that contributes and supports its members to network online.

Review and accept LinkedIn connection requests. As your network grows, so will the new connection requests you receive. Review any new requests you receive and implement a connection strategy.

Related: Should you really accept that LinkedIn connection request?

Post or share relevant and useful content. LinkedIn is a great way to show your expertise in your field, share blogs you have published to your website, or articles from other writers whose content you admire or enjoy. Many great articles have social share options, so take advantage of this feature to share the article directly after you’ve read it, adding your thoughts or comments on what you’ve just read.

The latter two tips should take you less than 5 minutes each day, and daily use should be encouraged. If you can’t manage 5 minutes each day, at least aim for 5 minutes each week. In no time at all your network will include mutually motivated members who are keen to share your passions and visions.

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By Sam Spence - Owner & Executive Virtual Assistant, Executive Virtual Associate.


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Date posted: 2015-12-01 | Comments(0)


Copyright - Do the right thing & avoid breaches.

I want to start this article by stating I am not a Copyright or legal expert, and the contents of this article are purely my own experience, opinions and thoughts. For specific circumstances, we recommend you contact a legal representative for individual advice.

No doubt we have all shared images or quotes that we enjoyed or related to, most commonly via our preferred Social Media channels. After all, it’s great to share the love, but have you always provided credit or acknowledged the original owner of the content?

What is Copyright

We recently had an instance where one of our original images was published by two profiles on their social media site - with our identifying features (website) removed. Unfortunately, we recognise this happens from time to time, especially on social media.

When the unauthorised & edited version came to our attention, we commented to the said social media users, by simply using the statement;

“We are pleased that you enjoyed our image enough to share it, but we are disappointed it has been edited and our ownership removed”

The two responses we received were worlds apart.

The first user apologised and promptly added our details to their post, acknowledging our ownership – problem solved!

The second user gave us a more disappointing response. Using the same statement, they chose to block us from their profile and deleted our comment. Unsatisfied, we followed up with an email, again expressing our disappointment with the editing of our original image, highlighting their action to delete and block us was not the best way of handling the breach of copyright and requested they replace the image with our original image. This business changed their strategy and implemented the following solution; apologising privately, deleting the image & unblocking us from their profile.

Don’t get us wrong, we are more than happy for our creations to be shared, as are our clients who we create images for. The action of sharing generally leads to greater awareness and reach – but there is a right way!

Try these steps to avoid breaches of copyright

  1. Use your own photos/images.

  2. Create your own social media images.

  3. If you add a quote, identify who said it.

  4. Ask permission before you use someone else’s image.

  5. Include a watermark or other identifying feature to your images.

  6. If you outsource to a creator (illustrator, photographer or other artist) be sure to review the contract or agreement for details on ownership of the images created.

  7. Share the original owners image intact and with credit to them (their name, website or social media handle is often enough).

  8. If unsure, seek legal advise before proceeding.

If you have a copyright story, I’d love to hear it. Please post your story in the box below.

For more information on Copyright Act in Australia visit www.copyright.org.au, or in the US www.copyright.gov. For other locations, please search for your country’s relevant Copyright Authority.

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By Sam Spence - Owner & Executive Virtual Assistant, Executive Virtual Associate.


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Date posted: 2015-11-01 | Comments(4)


Thank you for the last 3 years.

Thank you, we made it to 3 years.

October 7th 2015, marked the beginning of our 4th year in business. As with many businesses, we have not achieved this milestone on our own, and I’d like to dedicate this blog post to say thank you to a handful of the many who have contributed to our success and growth over the last 3 years.

Now to the Thanks;

My friend Karen came up with the tagline "Share your workload with us, not our office!" Words that I believe really reflect what a Virtual Assistant does.

Another friend, Kerrie, who I only met after starting on my Virtual Business journey for being a sounding board and supporter, especially in the first few months. I wish we lived closer.

Thank you to my Virtual friends for the very real tips, support, recommendations, training and introductions. In particular my local gals Sandra & Julie. It’s impossible to feel like we are competitors in the same industry when we get along so well and coach each other to the next level of success.

For those in business, you never forget the feeling when you sign your first client. The first person that believed in you enough to buy from you! Thank you Sean & Amber for believing in my dream.

Having a team of subcontractors has allowed my business to extend itself and support a broader collection of clients. Thanks for helping me along the way Tanya, Sandra, Tara, Teneal, Juanita, Fiona, Taylah, Sharon, Wendee, Jien, Sam, Tracey, Sarah, Sharyn& Julie

And finally, to my biggest supports – my Mum Stephanie, my husband Rob, and children Jordan & Grace. You’ve heard all the stories, ideas and dreams. You’ve celebrated the milestones and achievements with me, and reminded me that business is a journey of ups and downs.

I don’t have the space to mention everyone I have met in the last 3 years, but I can assure you that although you remain un-named in this post – you have given me pearls of wisdom, support, introductions, guidance and mentoring.

Sincerely, I thank you.


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Date posted: 2015-10-09 | Comments(7)


Definition of a Virtual Assistant

How do you define a Virtual Assistant?

VAs are many things to many business owners & entrepreneurs. We asked some of our clients what they thought best summed up what a VA is to them, and created these definitions.

Which definition sits best with you?

Invaluable support for you and/or your business, from a person you trust, but may not have met face to face.

Invaluable Support

A remote and trusted asset for you and/or your business, accomplishing the projects left untouched on your "to do" list!

Taking care of your To Do List!

A trusted asset who takes away your frustrations by completing the tasks you don't!

Takes away your frustrations

Someone who creates extra time for you, by taking care of tasks you can't do, don't do or shouldn't do.

Taking care of tasks you can't do.

A dependable resource that allows you to increase your productivity by doing less!

Increasing your productivity by doing less.

A secret weapon for your business that helps you get ahead.

Your Secret Weapon

The blessing in your business who transforms your ideas into reality.

Transforms your ideas into reality.

The Back Up Plan when you're too busy to do it all!

Your Back Up Plan

The Business Asset who takes on the tasks you avoid!

Definition of a Virtual Assistant

The extra pair of hands working on your business during peak times.

Definition of a Virtual Assistant

The partner in your business who takes care of the tasks that make your eyes glaze over!

Helps you when your eyes glaze over!

The accomplice in your business who gives you a clear head by taking control of your paperwork.

Giving you a clear head!

The surrogate for your business, that allows time to cheer on your Olympic team without impacting your workflow.

Allowing you to watch the Olympics

An edge for your business, that allows you to realise greater success.

Definition of a Virtual Assistant

We hope you enjoy our Definitions of a Virtual Assistant. Let us know in the comments box below which definition is your favourite.

by Sam Spence – Owner & Principal Executive Assistant, Executive Virtual Associate.

These images are the creation of Executive Virtual Associate, and each image is copyrighted to Executive Virtual Associate 2015. Feel free to share the images in full with acknowledgement of Executive Virtual Associate.

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Date posted: 2015-09-26 | Comments(2)


8 tips Sir Richard Branson told me!

Sir Richard BransonOkay, I’ll come clean, I wasn’t the only person in the room. An additional 2,500 or so people were also present, and listened as Sir Richard Branson shared the following tips on becoming a successful entrepreneur.

  1. Look forward not back. We all make mistakes and more than likely your first venture into business will appear like more hard work than success. This is ok, just keep focussed on the future – where you want to be, what you are working towards.

  2. Create something that makes a positive difference to the lives of others. In other words, deal with the problems of the world. Your world may only be small, but if you can develop a solution, you can make a difference. Be innovative, and do your best to make things better.

  3. Thank those who have contributed to your journey. Show appreciation and encourage rewards – big or small. Praise as often as you can, and watch the people around you flourish.

  4. Surround yourself with people better than you and delegate. Find the best in people, help them realise their skills and contributions. Care for your team, and draw the best out in them.

  5. Dream. Innovation begins with dreams.

  6. Create a happy workplace. Appreciate your staff, let them work and contribute to the overall performance of the organisation and you will see them feel proud and become brand ambassadors for your business.

  7. Protect the downside. Perhaps this could be reworded as “Hedge your bets”. Risks are always present, but ensure the risk your risk is considered, minimised and protected.

  8. Have the ability to forgive. Holding onto grudges can be damaging – to your reputation and also your health, so show that you can let go and move on. Sir Richard displayed this to us, when reaching out to reassure a heckler in the room with his genuine unruffled behaviour.

These thoughts have been taken from the recent Melbourne National Achievers Congress, where Boost Juice founder, Janine Allis also imparted some of her wisdom. The Shark Tank regular reminded us that the journey to success includes hard times. “Greatness occurs when things go wrong, and you learn to get past it” she said. As many successful entrepreneurs will tell you, the journey to success is hard fought and Janine reinforced that it’s okay to feel petrified at times.

 

My parting advice, is if you ever have the chance to be in the same room as Sir Richard Branson, grab it with both hands – I promise you won’t be disappointed!

If you have your own experience to share, I’d love to hear about it, please share it in the comments below.

by Sam Spence – Owner & Principal Executive Assistant, Executive Virtual Associate.

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Date posted: 2015-09-13 | Comments(5)


How do you take a break when you ARE the business?


We all know the signs. In fact our close family & friends probably know them better than ourselves. The signs you need to step away for a break. For a variety of reasons, business owners & entrepreneurs often are the last to take a break from the business they love so much. Usually because they think the business can’t operate without them.

So how do you plan to remove yourself from your business? Here is our 5 steps to ensure you can remove yourself, recharge and return energised!

  1. Commit. Pick a date for your break & record it in your calendar. It may be a long weekend, or perhaps a week. When you are comfortable with picking a date, this is the first step in keeping yourself accountable to having some time off!

  2. Barriers. Consider the barriers that are in your way to make your break a reality.

    • This list could include organising your partner to take time off work, arrangements for any other family members (and pets) and of course looking after your clients to ensure minimal impact.

    • Operating procedures that must occur during your absence.

  3. Strategize. Work through the list one by one to come up with a strategy to overcome the barriers.

    • Assuming you are solo or perhaps a Mum & Dad business owner, one of your first steps would be to consider your regular client work – who are they and how to manage those projects in you absence – this also good contingency planning.

    • No doubt you have a lot of knowledge not written down. Start thinking about those processes.

    • Who is the best person(s) to support you & your clients in your absence? Are they available?

    • Notify your clients of your impending break and if things will differ during this time, let them know. Ie, Hours of business, contact person etc.

    • Are there tasks that can be automated? Depending on programs used, tasks such as invoicing, social media, newsletters and even reminders can be automated – saving you time even when you’re not at work!

  4. Implement. Starting to implement your strategies, includes recording the vast amounts of knowledge into instructions. You will need time to test your strategy with your support team, hand over the project, tasks in chunks if that makes it easier for you to let go. Be sure that you are honest with those filling your shoes. They won’t know everything you know and feedback is important to improve their performance.

  5. Pack & Go! Surely this step doesn’t need any explanation!

Oh and it might make you feel better to leave a contact number so you can be reached should something urgent arise. Be sure to restrict the time you spend checking your emails etc or your  time away will just turn into a very expensive way of running your business with you in a different location!

Related: Common Myths in Partnering with a Virtual Assistant

Good luck with your planning, and of course if we can help you confidently take a break from your business – give us a call or send us an email!

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Date posted: 2015-08-19 | Comments(4)


What is your "Why"?

Do you know the exact moment in time when you started on your business journey?

I know some of you can answer “Yes” straight away. A defining incident, accident or event that made you stop then and there and say to yourself – “I can/want/will do this”. I know some business journeys have been launched because of tragedy. For me it was a force of hand.

It was Sunday 7th October 2012, and before the Bathurst 1,000 was over – I had applied for my ABN, decided on a Business Name, designed a logo and downloaded a business plan from the Business Victoria website.

Sam SpenceYou see, I never dreamt of running my own business. I was happy with my career as a Bank employee for Westpac, so happy I’d stayed with them for over 22 years. About 6 weeks earlier, my immediate manager gave me the news my role was being made redundant. Shock! What’s next? I’m Gen X, the generation that was encouraged to finish school and get a good job – I did! I had a mortgage that needed my contribution, two wonderful kids that were yet to start their secondary education and lived in a regional town (that some would say has limited career opportunities). Yes, I needed a job, but I wanted a career as well.

Pointed in the direction of LinkedIn, I started to consolidate and grow my network online. Perhaps my next opportunity would be found there. Clicking and searching (I can’t even remember the specifics of my search), I ended up in a group for Executive Assistants. With a question raised by Reese Ben-Yaacov about working remotely to your boss, I was opened to the industry of Virtual Assistants. You see, my immediate role before leaving Westpac, was as support to the Regional General Manager, his team of Bank Managers and the wider regional team. Effectively I was working ‘virtually’ with those I was supporting already.

It was then that I realised I could create my own business with the skills I had gained “on the job” and the technology available. EVA and my entrepreneurial career was born.

From then on, it has been a whirlwind! Initially all the behind the scenes activities – domain names, registrations, planning and sponge-like learning of all things business related. I’m still growing and learning, and almost 3 years on, I thank Westpac for the years of training and instilling the importance of values and ethics.

Related: Celebrating our First Birthday.

I’d love to hear your story and why you choose the business path you are now treading. I invite you to please share your journey & experience below.

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By Sam Spence - Owner & Executive Virtual Assistant, Executive Virtual Associate.

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Date posted: 2015-07-08 | Comments(1)


Try these Tips to grow your list!

Grow Your Mailing List

Many people say your list is the most valuable asset to your business. Your list consists of interested individuals who want to follow you, learn from you, and buy from you.

A mailing list provides you with the opportunity to communicate directly with your clients and community, giving you the chance to share news, updates and of course special offers. It is an avenue for you to remain in their minds, build trust and brand yourself without needing to compete with social media algorithms.

Because your mailing list subscribers must give you permission to email them (either verbally, written or automatically), they have confirmed they want to hear from you – maybe not too often – and always with valuable content, but they want to hear from you.

So how can you maximise your list for maximum effect? If you aren’t using these options, you are missing opportunities to build trust with your community

1. Use an email campaign service such as mailchimp to collect email addresses for your list. These services comply with the Spam Act allowing subscribers to update or unsubscribe at any time. Use this service to create an opt-in page and use the link to obtain automatic subscribers.

2. Promote your list on social media. Using the link from your opt-in page, direct traffic to sign up with Call to Action buttons, as well as posting the invitation link to join your list regularly.

3. Add a hyperlink to sign up within your email signature. Use a statement to attract readers to click – “Join our mailing list”, “Be the first to hear our news” or similar. The catchier the statement, the more likely it is you will receive subscribers via this method.

4. If you write articles or blog posts, be sure to add a link within your bio at the end of your article.

5. Add the opt in link to your website – either via a pop up, or simply with a link to sign up on your website to capture visitors to your site.

6. If clients visit your office, space or stall, use a paper based sign-up sheet to attract them to provide their email address.

7. Include an acknowledgement to join your list within your service agreement when signing up a new client.

8. Give away something for free. Create an ebook or similar as a hook for potential individuals to trade for their email address.

9. And finally, don’t be afraid to ask people face to face. If you have a discussion about your business or services with an interested party, it might be a natural progression to suggest they might like to receive the occasional update from you. You will find many people will offer to join your list if they can add you to theirs – if that interests you give your permission and obtain their business card to manually add them to your list.

Once you have subscribers, be sure to treat them with respect. By joining your list, they wish to hear from you – not too frequently, but always with valuable content. If your communications bore your readers, you will inadvertently encourage them to unsubscribe.

On a final note, ensure you remain loyal to your subscribers by not sharing or selling your list.

If you liked this article, subscribe here and never miss another post.

by Sam Spence – Owner & Principal Executive Assistant, Executive Virtual Associate.

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Date posted: 2015-06-22 | Comments(0)


How is Facebook working for you?

I hear many business owners becoming increasingly frustrated with Facebook and complaining about their posts no longer being as successful as they had been in the past. If your business has been using Facebook for marketing for a while, you will no doubt be aware of the algorithm changes making it harder to appear in the newsfeeds of your followers. This article is not the ‘be all’ to crack the Facebook algorithms, but instead some ideas that individually or collaboratively might make a difference to your overall marketing strategy.

Use the Free Facebook Insights to audit your posts.

Which posts are getting the most engagement? Are you posting content at the same time each day or week? Check the insights to review the engagement with your fans, it will highlight the posts and content they enjoy the most. Use this data to tailor your posting plans, keeping in mind your key message & values. There are no certainty here, but reviewing the stats available via Facebook will help improve your content.

Increase your Posting Frequency.

Consider that your posts only have a certain life cycle once shared, so posting more often and at the optimum times (check your Facebook insights) will increase your chance of reaching more fans and followers. But be careful not to become a spammer in the eyes of your fans by posting continuously. Consider making more use of the scheduling tool.

Optimise your page.

Complete as many fields as possible detailing your business information, and ensure your description includes keywords for successful search results. Make sure your links work and potential clients or customers can contact your to purchase or ask for more information.

Use our Facebook Audit Checklist to help identify any areas for improvement

Use the “Call to Action” button.

If you haven’t utilised the CTA button within your cover photo – now is the time! This feature can direct followers and fans to your online store, website, blog, mailing list or whatever action you would like them to take. As per the previous paragraph, make sure your links are accurate.

Convert your fans to your mailing list.

Consider if your page was to disappear from Facebook tomorrow, how many interested followers would you lose contact with? Encourage them to join your mailing list, and you can email valuable updates directly. This way, you have the opportunity to communicate with them via their inbox, by passing Facebook’s algorithms – putting the control back into your hands. Providing your content is valuable and not too frequent, your followers will read your messages, perhaps even more regularly than via Facebook!

Join our mailing list here.

And of course, keep in mind that Facebook should be just one component of your social media marketing strategy. There are other social media channels, and depending on your product or service, they could be more successful for you than Facebook.

If you have a tip on improving the reach in Facebook newsfeeds, we'd love you to share it below.

by Sam Spence – Owner & Principal Executive Virtual Assistant at Executive Virtual Associate


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Date posted: 2015-05-31 | Comments(0)


What happens when the room is full of VAs?

What I am about to share with you, is my review of the Australian Virtual Assistants Conference. AVAC, as it is affectionately known is an annual event that appears on most Aussie VAs calendars, as a must attend personal development and networking event.

Imagine an MC who puts the delegates at ease even before the event starts. That was how Rob Salisbury began AVAC2015. We met face to face the night before the conference started and from that moment and throughout the next two days, he was helpful, humorous, informative and entertaining.

The aim of AVAC is to network, learn, grow, and get inspired by a range of speakers, and the line-up this year was no exception. Starting with Caroline Kennedy, not from the famous US Kennedy family, but the author, and speaker, sharing her journey, struggles and successes. As she says “The strongest may survive, but the passionate thrive.” And ending with the truly inspirational Leanne Sklavenitis who didn’t fail to deliver and motivate, even though she was the final speaker to finish the conference. Leanne will be the first to tell you she isn’t as scary as she appears, but she is the accountability coach that many want to work with – Including me!

The theme throughout the conference seemed to be, or perhaps it was conversations with my mentor that were being repeated – Know your ideal client, know really well;

I’ve only mentioned a handful of the speakers who shared their stories, knowledge and imparted sprinkles of inspiration throughout the room. (Watch our Facebook page for more inspirational quotes and comments.) But from the eager faces of many first time delegates and VAs ready to start their journey into our awesome industry, sincere thanks to the AVAC committee for yet another successful event.

You may think that a room full of business owners in the same industry would be cold and unfriendly, think again! The VA industry is collaborative and supportive. In fact many VAs work together with clients and bounce ideas around. This brings me to the networking, for those VAs with not as much experience or looking for advice, and maybe even a mentor, AVAC is the perfect event to grow your virtual connections into real friendships.

My takeaways from the conference were clear;

  • Write with your reader in mind, a great reminder from Vikki Maver

  • Kerryn Powell taught me to continue to network, network, network (online and face to face)

  • A great tip from Paul McCarthy, when a client pays you a compliment verbally, ask them if you can transfer those words into a website testimonial.

AVAC2015

So if you’re a VA or thinking about starting your journey to become a VA, mark your calendar now for March 18th & 19th, and we’ll see you in Manly for AVAC2016.

Related: Curious about previous years? Read our review of AVAC2013 and AVAC2014

by Sam Spence - Owner & Executive Virtual Assistant, Executive Virtual Associate.

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Date posted: 2015-03-25 | Comments(1)


Should you really accept that LinkedIn connection request?

LinkedIn is one of the fastest growing social media channels. Tailored towards professionals connecting, sharing and networking online, it should be a key element of establishing and maintaining your personal brand. But does that mean you should be connecting with everyone who sends you a request?

When you accept a connection online, you are confirming with your network that you know this person and are willing to be associated with this person. Each connection builds your reputation as well as the reputation of your online network. Simply by association, the reputation of your connections is reflected within your network. For that reason, I adopt a simple strategy when considering each connection request;

A request from someone I know. If I personally know the person requesting to connect either via education, family connection, work colleague (former or current), fellow business owner, or friend, I will generally accept the connection request without too much thought. I will however view their profile to improve my understanding of their career path. Depending on your relationship with this person, you may learn more about their work history, and the direction they are heading and more.

Connection request from someone I don’t personally know. I answer this question by asking myself do I want to know him/her. If the answer is yes, I will accept the connection request, but I continue the communication to grow the relationship with them. If possible, via a face to face meeting.

Connection request from someone I’m not familiar with. When I receive a connection request from someone I’m not familiar with, and they have sent LinkedIn’s standard “I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”, I respond to their request by mentioning that I don’t think we’ve met and enquiring if I can help them? From this response, one of two outcomes usually occur; 1. The professional requesting to connect explains why they wish to connect, perhaps they noticed a post you shared etc. or 2. You hear nothing further from this LinkedIn user. The latter highlights to me that this person was simply looking to grow their connection numbers.

Related: Download our LinkedIn Audit Checklist

LinkedIn is not a numbers game, or a popularity contest, instead it is a professional way to grow your network online and show your professional reputation.

My final piece of advice, personalise your connection request to encourage your potential network member to join your network. Feel free to share your LinkedIn advice or connection strategy below.

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By Sam Spence - Owner & Executive Virtual Assistant,Executive Virtual Associate.

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Date posted: 2015-02-24 | Comments(6)


Tools we use to run a better business!

There are so many apps My Favourite Appsavailable these days, all with the aim to stream line your business needs to achieve better results with greater efficiency. Here is a few of my faves…

LinkedIn – If you aren’t aware or using LinkedIn, click here to join and grow your professional network online now. LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network, and a great way to broaden and strengthen your trusted connections virtually. With over 300 million users worldwide, you can understand it is a great place to be seen and heard as a professional in your industry. How can it help? – connect with individuals you’ve met at a recent face to face networking events, share valuable articles with your connections, develop business relationships with one to one meetings or perhaps even find that next career opportunity (yes, job positions are advertised on LinkedIn).

Related: 7 Tips to Improve your Networking

Mailchimp – If you’re not sending newsletters to your clients or contacts you should be. If you’re sending bulk newsletter emails from your inbox – there is a better way! Mailchimp is our preferred method of email marketing, with features including subscriber profiles, analytics and customised branding. Mailchimp is also compliant with the Spam Act, which includes the option for subscribers can opt out at any time. Sign up for your own free account here.

Invitation: Join our mailing list to be on the receiving end of our newsletters.

FreshBooks – FreshBooks is the accounting program I use to keep track of my business accounting. It keeps track of my expenses, invoices and time tracking all in one place. With FreshBooks, your business is accessible everywhere, from your iPhone/iPad to your desktop, and your data is secure and backed up in the cloud. For those starting out, a free account exists, which is always great to keep costs down, plus it integrates with other apps to allow for faster payments. Click here to learn more.

Dropbox– The easiest way to describe dropbox is to say it’s a portable share drive. When you use dropbox, your files are saved in the cloud, this means you can access them via another device or even share the folder with a colleague, client or friend. Even if your phone goes for a swim, your stuff is always safe in Dropbox and can be restored in a snap. Dropbox secures your files with 256-bit AES encryption and two-step verification. Sign up for a free account here.

PicMonkey & Canva - Are stand out programs when it comes to creating social media posts or editing images. Both offer free versions and with a few clicks can create custom branded images for your website, documents or social media site. Visit PicMonkey or Canva to learn more.

Related: Download our Social Media Image Size Checklist here.

IFTTT - (IF This Then That) is a service that helps you create an action. It’s easier to use an example to explain how it works. Say you want to know about tweets for a particular event, person, topic etc. Within the IFTTT app you can create a recipe (the trigger & action) to alert you when the saved hashtag is used. The hashtag becomes the ingredient, when it is used within twitter, a trigger occurs and you receive an email alert or notification. This is just one example of a recipe, you can choose from over 150,000 templates or create your own. Click here to learn more and set up your free account.

Pocket – One of my clients recently introduced me to Pocket (Thank you Ben). Pocket is a great app that helps you save great articles to read later. You can save the articles (including videos) directly from your browser or social media channels like twitter into your Pocket account, then read them later – with or without internet access. Like all good programs, there is an app available for your smart phone. Sign up to pocket here.

While I have listed some of my favourites, special mentions also go to Instagram my favourite social media app, Time Buddy to c...

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Date posted: 2015-01-26 | Comments(0)


3 Reasons Entrepreneurs Don’t Outsource!

Running a business is all encompassing. Unfortunately, it’s not just about the idea that started you on the entrepreneurial journey. Many unseen tasks need to be completed along the way – marketing, bookkeeping, even follow up! Actioning these aspects of your business are essential, but not necessarily by you! That is why outsourcing is a great investment in your business. It allows you to refocus on the tasks that allow you to be a successful entrepreneur.

Related: What can a Virtual Assistant do in a year?

So why aren’t you outsourcing? Here are three common reasons holding entrepreneurs back from achieving greater success.

1. Budget. Until you start making a good income, you will have a limited budget. You think it’s cheaper to complete the work yourself. Let’s spin that idea around! Consider your hourly rate, and how much time you spend on ‘non billable’ tasks. If you could pay someone else to complete those tasks and focus on the revenue generating aspects of your business you could actually make more money!

2. Trust. Chances are if you haven’t outsourced yet, it’s because you started your business. It was your idea, and everything about the business reflects you. How can anyone else love your business like you and represent it with the same standards you have? It’s time to let go of your inner control freak, and share your workload. You can accurately achieve more by delegating those tasks you put off or take up way more of your time than they should. Start by delegating simple projects, then gradually build up to those with great responsibility.

3. How. Finding someone that you can trust isn’t as easy as searching the yellow pages or other directories. The best way to find a quality outsourcing partner is to ask your network. Everyone has stories about good and bad experiences (usually more of the bad), and you can use these to find the right match for you. Write a list of qualities and skills you need your outsourced collaborator to have.

So now you have realised that perhaps outsourcing is for you, what is the next step?Live More

  • Write a list of the tasks you don’t have the expertise, time or inclination to complete.

  • Ask your respected connections for recommendations on who could support your business by completing these tasks.

  • Team up with your outsource partner, but only after you have spent time ensuring they are the right fit for your business. Check their work history, recommendations from other clients, accreditations (if necessary) and working relationship with you.

I'd love to hear your stories on outsourcing your workload to focus more on achieving greater business success. Feel free to leave them below or contact me directly via sam@executivevirtualassociate.com.au

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By Sam Spence - Owner & Executive Virtual Assistant, Executive Virtual Associate.


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Date posted: 2015-01-11 | Comments(1)


Women around the World Recognized at Event in New York City

Executive Virtual Associatehas been named the winner of a Bronze Stevie® Award in the Startup of the Year category in the 11th annual Stevie Awards for Women in Business.

Bronze Award winner, Executive Virtual AssociateThe Stevie Awards for Women in Business are the world’s top honours for female entrepreneurs, executives, employees and the organizations they run. All individuals and organizations worldwide are eligible to submit nominations – public and private, for-profit and non-profit, large and small. The 2014 awards received entries from 22 nations and territories.

Nicknamed the Stevies for the Greek word for “crowned,” the awards were presented to winners last night during a dinner event attended by more than 400 people at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City. The presentations were broadcast live across the U.S.A., and simulcast around the world, by Biz Talk Radio, and will be featured in a television special on Biz TV in January.

More than 1,200 nominations from organizations of all sizes and in virtually every industry were submitted this year for consideration in more than 90 categories, including Entrepreneur of the Year, Executive of the Year, Company of the Year, Mentor of the Year, Women Helping Women, and Communications Campaign of the Year, among others. Executive Virtual Associate won Bronze in the Startup of the Year category.

Founded in 2012 by Sam Spence, Executive Virtual Associate is a Virtual Assistant Business supporting busy business owners, leaders and entrepreneurs get back their valuable time, by taking care of their administration activities.

“Since our journey began just over 2 years ago, we have celebrated many milestones”, Sam said. “Including successfully passing the International Virtual Assistants Association (IVAA) Ethics Check Exam, a certification that supports our commitment to operating with integrity and honesty at all times. Our business has grown to include 10 subcontractors, inspiring at least one of our subcontractors to start her own Virtual Assistant business, and we are rewarded to see her growth in the industry. We give back to our local community and uphold our commitment to reduce our carbon footprint.” In short, Sam has a lot to be proud of as a Start Up business.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to be included with such an elite class of internationally recognised women and leaders of their industries” said Sam Spence. “I hope my recognition inspires other women in business to follow their dreams. Just as other women have inspired me during my journey so far.”

Stevie Award winners were selected by more than 160 executives worldwide who participated in the judging process this year.

“In the 11 years of the Stevie Awards for Women in Business, we have never had as many impressive women entrepreneurs, organizations, and executives nominated as we did in 2014. Their stories of success and innovation will be an inspiration to women around the globe who dream of starting and growing a business and making a difference.” said Michael Gallagher, founder and president of the Stevie Awards. “We congratulate all of this year’s Grand, Gold, Silver and Bronze Stevie Award winners for their achievements.”

Details about the Stevie Awards for Women in Business and the list of Stevie Award winners are available at www.StevieAwards.com/Women.

For more information about partnering with a Virtual Assistant, contact Sam Spence via sam@executivevirtualassociate.com.au or learn more here.

Sam Spence - Owner & Executive Virtual Assistant, Executive Virtual Associate.

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Date posted: 2014-12-12 | Comments(2)


VAs, just like Magic Dust!

            Virtual Assistants are Magic

When partnering with a Virtual Assistant, he/she will be aware of your goals, ambitions and values. They will represent your business with the same attitude, values and language you use! The partnership will seem seamless to those outside your business.

Consider the following points to help see the benefits of partnering with a VA.
Learn more about Executive Virtual Associate here.

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By Sam Spence - Owner & Executive Virtual Assistant, Executive Virtual Associate.


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Date posted: 2014-12-12 | Comments(1)


EVA named a Finalist in 11th Annual Stevie Awards for Women In Business


Bendigo based Virtual Assistant business, Executive Virtual Associate (EVA) has been named as a Finalist in the Start Up of the Year category in the 11th annual Stevie® Awards for Women in Business, and will ultimately be a Gold, Silver, or Bronze Stevie Award winner in the program.

The Stevie Awards for Women in Business honor women executives, entrepreneurs, employees and the companies they run – worldwide. The Stevie Awards have been hailed as the world’s premier business awards.

Gold, Silver and Bronze Stevie Award winners will be announced during a gala event at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York on Friday, November 14. Nominated women executives and entrepreneurs from the U.S.A and several other countries are expected to attend. The event will be broadcast live on radio in the U.S.A. (and simulcast worldwide) by Biz Talk Radio and taped for a later television broadcast.

More than 1,200 entries were submitted this year for consideration in more than 90 categories, including Executive of the Year, Entrepreneur of the Year, Women Helping Women, and Communications Campaign of the Year.

EVA was founded by Sam Spence, who has been operating her Virtual Assistant business to support business owners, leaders and entrepreneurs since 2012. Sam and her team provide remote administration support to clients in Central Victoria, Melbourne and Interstate.

“Since our journey began just over 2 years ago, we have celebrated many milestones”, Sam said. “Including successfully passing the International Virtual Assistants Association (IVAA) Ethics Check Exam, a certification that supports our commitment to operating with integrity and honesty at all times. Our business has grown to include 10 subcontractors, inspiring at least one of our subcontractors to start her own Virtual Assistant business, and we are rewarded to see her growth in the industry. We give back to our local community and uphold our commitment to reduce our carbon footprint.” In short, Sam has a lot to be proud of as a Start Up business.

Finalists were chosen by more than 100 business professionals worldwide during preliminary judging. Members of five final judging committees will determine the Gold, Silver and Bronze Stevie Award placements from among the Finalists during final judging October 20-29.

“Every year we receive the most amazing and inspiring stories of achievement from women-owned and –run organizations around the world,” said Michael Gallagher, founder and president of the Stevie Awards. “The first-round judges have told us how delighted they are with this year’s field of Finalists. We’re looking forward to recognizing them in New York on November 14.”

“I’m absolutely thrilled to be included with such an elite class of internationally recognised women and leaders of their industries” said Sam Spence. “I hope my recognition inspires other women in business to follow their dreams. Just as other women have inspired me during my journey so far.”

Details about the Stevie Awards for Women in Business and the list of Finalists in all categories are available on the Stevie Awards Website.

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Date posted: 2014-10-18 | Comments(0)


Do you have a Social Media Policy?

Establishing and operating a social media presence is more than just setting up a facebook page and publishing content and random times.

Your social media presence is an extension of your business, so it is important to set guidelines and policies to remain consistent with your business.

Use our Social Media Policy to uncover any deficiencies within your policy that need addressing.

Social Media Policy Audit

If you have any questions about our checklist (or anything else), please contact us via email. sam@executivevirtualassociate.com.au

Download your Free copy of our Social Media Policy Audit here. If you missed our Free Facebook Audit Checklist, download a copy here.

by Sam Spence - Owner & Executive Virtual Assistant, Executive Virtual Associate.

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Date posted: 2014-10-07 | Comments(0)


What can a Virtual Assistant do over 12 months?

So what can a VA do for you to give back your valuable time? Here is how we have supported some of our clients in the last 12 months.

A Year In Review

Download a copy of this infographic here.


For further information on the benefits in outsourcing for Entrepreneurs,
contact Sam Spence - Owner & Executive Virtual Assistant, Executive Virtual Associate.

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Date posted: 2014-09-30 | Comments(1)


Junortoun Business Nominated

Sam Spence of Executive Virtual Associate has been nominated in the 2014 AusMumpreneur Awards.

The 2014 AusMumpreneur Awards presented by the AusMumpreneur Network celebrate and recognise Mums in business achieving outstanding success in areas such as business, product development, services and innovation in businesses from Australia and New Zealand. The awards are designed to recognise the growing number of women who successfully balance motherhood and business in a way that suits their life and family.

Sam has been operating her Junortoun based Virtual Assistant business to support business owners, leaders and entrepreneurs since 2012. Sam and her team provide administration support to clients in Central Victoria, Melbourne and Interstate.

There are many benefits to balancing business and motherhood as Sam explains, “I am able to spend more time with my two children, but they are also learning about entrepreneurship and operating a business. I enjoy being able to see the business grow from an idea, but also the flexibility to manage my own time to benefit my family.”

It can be challenging to be a successful business woman whilst raising a family and Sam gives this advice for others thinking about starting their own enterprise. "If you are passionate about starting your own business, ensure you give adequate attention to the planning stage. Consider contingency options, when hurdles appear in your path - and they will!"

The winners of the 2014 AusMumpreneur Awards will be announced at a glamorous Awards event in Melbourne in October 2014.

You can vote for Sam to progress in these Awards by clicking here.

For further information on the AusMumpreneur Awards or why entrepreneurs benefit in outsourcing, contact Sam Spence - Owner & Executive Virtual Assistant, Executive Virtual Associate.

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Date posted: 2014-08-20 | Comments(0)


Business Awards - Are they worth it?

It must be awards season!

My business has been recognised and nominated in the Powercor Australia 2014 Bendigo Business Excellence Awards, as well as the nationally recognised AusMumpreneur Awards.

It's wonderful to think a client or connection has thought highly enough of me and my business to suggest I am a worthy nominee.

Should I enter?

It can be considered hard work to submit an awards application for consideration and judging, with the aim of becoming an awards finalist. Many nominees weigh up the benefits - the acknowledgment & promotion, against the effort needed to submit a strong and accurate application that is worthy of the recognition.

Entering business awards comes with a range of potential advantages – whether or not you progress to become a finalist or eventually win.

For me, it was a simple decision to make. I made the time, and worked hard to prepare, review and support my applications. I had family, friends and respected fellow business owners review my submission critically. I know I gave it my best shot!

A fellow business owner recently asked me how long it took me to complete my application. The truth is I’m not really sure, but I do know it took a substantial amount of time. Completing the application process is a great time to review your business plans and goals. When I completed my application in the Bendigo Business Excellence Awards last year, I used the opportunity to set a direction and clear goals for my business to take for the upcoming year.

If you are looking to improve your business planning, take a look at your local business or industry awards criteria - It may help your business planning with areas you had not previously considered. Every application will be different, but you are usually asked questions about your successes, goals, development and uniqueness.

If you are nominated, my advice is to follow the awards process and complete an application. You’ve got nothing to lose, and I promise you will learn more about your business and its direction from the process.

Sincerely, I thank the mystery person (or persons) who nominated me in both awards this year. I am extremely proud of my business, my journey as a business owner, and hope to progress to become a finalist.

Update: Executive Virtual Associate was named as a Finalist in the 2014 AusMumpreneur Awards in the Customer Service Award Category.

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By Sam Spence - Owner & Executive Virtual Assistant, Executive Virtual Associate.

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Date posted: 2014-08-11 | Comments(0)


8 Common Myths on Partnering with a Virtual Assistant

Common Myths in Partnering with a Virtual Assistant

The benefits of sharing your workload with a Virtual Assistant (VA) are well known and clear. Recouping valuable time being the main benefit. But like any valuable strategy, myths and misconceptions are often present.

This article aims to debunk some of the illusions and get to the real truth on partnering with a Virtual Assistant.


1. It’s expensive to hire a VA. Generally speaking, partnering with a VA is cheaper than if you were to employ a permanent office assistant. When you partner with a VA, you save associated employment costs such as superannuation, WorkCover and leave entitlements.

2. VAs work in their pyjamas. With days that are often include client meetings (either online or face to face) VAs rarely spend their working day in sleepwear. Networking is also an important part of a VAs day, and as professional business owners, turning up in our pyjamas is just not part of our professionalism.

3. VAs are based overseas. Many business owners looking to partner with a VA, think that they can only found in the Asian countries. Australia’s VA Industry has been in existence for 20 years (although it may not have been recognised officially as a VA Industry then). With several VA networks operating within Australia, the awareness of home grown admin support is becoming more prevalent. Support local and use an Aussie VA.

4. Office staff are more qualified than VAs. Of all the Virtual Assistants I know, each and everyone one of them has had years of experience in the corporate world, before embarking on their own business. Many were Executive Assistants and Personal Assistant to motivated and busy business leaders. Many VAs may also have formal qualifications, such as Diplomas etc.

5. A VA will need to be trained. Again, similar to the above point, having already had substantial years ‘on the job’ training with their existing career paths, add to this formal training (Diplomas etc) and the experience from supporting other business owners - The right VA will have the required skills already established.

6. VAs take longer to complete required work projects. An established VA has probably completed similar project with previous clients. Chances are because he/she has already completed the work before, they will more likely be quicker than you expected.

7. My Privacy won’t be respected. As business owners themselves, VAs understand the importance of maintaining privacy and confidences. Your VA may ask you to sign a service agreement, confirming how they treat your information both during and after the project has been completed. If you’re still concerned, ask the VA to sign your own confidentially agreement or look for a VA with an IVAA EthicsCheck Certification.

8. VAs can only type letters and complete data entry. I’m sure you will find most VAs offer correspondence preparation and data entry as a part of their service - but the list of tasks that can be completed by a VA really is endless. From project management, social media to email and calendar management and everything in between, I think you’ll find a VA to capable to accomplish the project you need completed.

I hope this article has helped to eliminate some of the common myths you may have believed true for Virtual Assistants. If you have any other VA illusions, let us know and we can confirm or dispel them for you.

Australia's only IVAA EthicsChecked VA
Contact Executive Virtual Associate to learn more about increasing your productivity.
sam@executivevirtualassociate.com.au or 0400 569 657.

by Sam Spence - Owner & Executive Virtual Assistant, Executive Virtual Associate.


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Date posted: 2014-06-08 | Comments(0)


Facebook Audit

How do you know if you are making the most with your business facebook presence?

Why not use our quick checklist to audit your business facebook presence and make any changes to increase your ROI with Facebook.

Facebook Audit

You may also like to read 8 ways to increase exposure with your Facebook business page.

If you have any questions about our checklist (or anything else), please contact us via email. sam@executivevirtualassociate.com.au

Download your Free Copy of our Facebook Audit Checklist here.

by Sam Spence - Owner & Executive Virtual Assistant, Executive Virtual Associate.

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Date posted: 2014-05-06 | Comments(0)


7 tips to improve your Networking

We all know referrals or leads don’t come knocking at your door, you need to get out and about to create & grow your connections. Networking is one of the most successful ways to grow your business, your connections and your credibility.

Here is what I have learnt in becoming a more effective networker.

  1. Attend events - No one is going to find you sitting in your home office, you need to get out and about. Contact your local council for details on networking events, or use sites like Eventbrite.

  2. Be on time (if not early) - Your punctuality in attending events reflects your business attitude. If you are late, others will think you are the same when dealing with your other appointments.

  3. Wear a name badge - It might be offered to you at the event, but if not be prepared with your own. After all, you want people to remember your name!

  4. Introduce yourself - Similar to point one, it’s great that you attended the event, but now is the time to meet new people and grow your network. Don’t be stuck in the corner talking to the same person for the duration of the meeting.

  5. Ask questions - Get to know the people you have just met. It’s important to ask questions, but even more important to listen to the responses. Networking is just as much social as business related.

  6. Be yourself - Don’t hit your new introductions with a sales pitch. Just be you, talk about your interests and goals. The person you are every day is the person your connections need to know.

  7. Follow Up - If you meet someone you would like to do business with, contact them afterwards. Just like ‘calling’ after a date, there’s no real rule on timeframe, but you do need to take ownership of the connection. Call, email or contact on social media to set up a one to one meeting and continue to build on the new relationship.

I am member of my local BNI chapter (BNI Sandhurst), and a fellow chapter member commented once - “We have an hour and a half to impress each other and any guests”. So get out there and start making connections.

by Sam Spence - Owner & Executive Virtual Assistant, Executive Virtual Associate.

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Date posted: 2014-04-22 | Comments(0)


Australian VA Conference 2014

As a Virtual Assistant, the one event that is a must on my calendar each year is the Australian Virtual Assistants Conference or AVAC. While this year’s conference was the fifth of its kind, it was only my second year attending, but has very quickly become a ‘non negotiable’ event on my agenda!

Let me share my experience of AVAC 2014 and perhaps you’ll understand why.

AVAC2014

This year, set in sunny Brisbane, fellow Bendigo based VA Sandra (PAVirtual) and I made the journey north together. Arriving the afternoon prior to the conference, allowed us not only a little sightseeing, but also to start networking with others within our industry. The VA Industry is very collaborative and AVAC is not only an opportunity to learn from the presenters, but also each other. Many of us know each other online, but only have the opportunity to meet up when based in the same area! Meeting face to face assists us to develop great friendships and sometimes business partnerships that may not otherwise happen.

After registration, Amanda Stevens, the wonderful MC for the event, kept us in fits of laughter with her tales and stories. She is an “in demand” speaker and if you have been at an event that Amanda has hosted - it is easy to understand why!

The opportunity to hear from 14 speakers over 2 days can overload many attendee at any Industry conference. Now that I am back at home, I certainly feel overwhelmed with the insights, tips, advice and opportunities I have at my fingertips. I won’t recap each speaker (you can see a list of speakers on the AVAC website), but a few that have given me food for thought.

Here are my ‘take-aways’;

  • I’m not getting any younger, and I really need to listen to my body when it tells me I’m not taking care of it! A lesson from Dave Liow & Angela Jenkins (Kaizen Exercise Physiologists)

  • Warrick Bidwell showed us a process to plan and breakdown our goals to define sales targets. My diary now has a planning retreat scheduled to ensure EVA’s success reflects my personal goals and dreams, and set my shopping list for life.

  • The EVA website will be under review in the upcoming weeks (perhaps months) to ensure I have a call to action on each page. Thank you Paul Barrs for the other page and a half of notes I now need to review and action.

  • Content for social media is always a topic of interest for any business owner, and Natalie Alaimo & Cas McCullogh shared some of their own social media strategies with us. Tip - Are you talking to your target market?

  • Michela D’Addario shared some great tips and resources - the ‘Venting Tool’, and the reminder to take regular breaks.

  • Tracey McGuiness of Southern Cross Accounting, provide a very practical, and clear presentation on how to work smarter not harder. I really enjoyed Tracey’s presentation and have some changes to make for the future growth of EVA.

  • I’m no longer a slave to my inbox, more aware of my personal safety (and that of my children) and have a whole heap of websites and apps to review.

  • A statement that was mentioned by one of last year’s presenters - which I find very true, was reiterated again - “It’s not what you know, or who you know, but who knows you!”

AVAC wrapped up with the announcement that t...

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Date posted: 2014-03-20 | Comments(1)


The best business advice I ever recieved.


As a new business owner I haven’t stopped learning since my business was founded. I have mentors and fellow business owners that I look to for advice. And I know I’m not alone in seeking others opinions when it comes to dealing with situations I haven’t dealt with before.

Sometimes advice is unwanted, but often we receive so much advice that it can be overwhelming - not to mention when it's contradictory!

Let me share some of the best advice I have heard along the way.

Donna Brown

Think like your customer! Without customers, clients or patients we would not have a business, and taking care of their needs and wants should be any business owner’s paramount objective. As I’ve said before - its much easier and cheaper to retain the customers/clients you currently have than to seek new ones. Read 3 ways to keep your Clients coming back here.

Corina Reid

It’s not what you know, or even who you know - but who knows you! Think about it. If you know who the Vice President of Westjet is, that’s great! But if he knows who you are - suddenly you have more credibility. So take the time to make connections to the people who influence you or you would like to include in your network. A growing a network is not a numbers game or popularity contest!

Kerrie King

We’ve all heard it before - Love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life! Simple, but true. We spend so much of our time working, it’s important to enjoy our job. If you can make a career out of a hobby or interest - You are truly blessed.

Michelle Hoffman

Have a business plan. It might seem like simple advice, but having a business plan that exists outside your thoughts helps clarify strategies and direction. Turning your business plan into an action plan with achievable milestones, supports and celebrates the direction your business is taking as it grows in success. So if you don't have a business plan - it's time you prepared one!

Kacey Wells

And finally, Take time out for yourself! No matter how successful you or your business are, you always need to find time to step away and recharge! If you can’t take time off, at least consider outsourcing tasks on a regular basis to give yourself more time.

by Sam Spence - Owner & Executive Virtual Assistant, Executive Virtual Associate.

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Date posted: 2013-12-11 | Comments(1)


Why you should convert your facebook business profile to a page.


There is no question about it, with social media marketing continuing to grow, your business needs to be represented on facebook. But do you have the correct facebook presence for your business? People assume a profile and a page are pretty much the same thing. They do look similar, but there are a few very critical differences. How can you tell the difference? If your fans connect with your business by sending a friend request, then you are operating your business as a profile!

Read on to discover why you should convert your profile to a page…

Shut down

First and foremost, operating a business as with a personal profile puts you at risk of the being shut down by facebook. Facebook has indicated it will close down profiles that are not operating with business pages. Do you want to risk loosing the connection to your fans and potential customer base?

Faceook Rules

Easier to connect

Operating your business presence as a page makes it easier for facebook users to view and connect with your business. When you operate a facebook business profile, connecting with another facebook profile is a two-step process. First the request to be friends, then the acceptance. Depending on how often you access your business profile, will reflect on when the notification is received and accepted. To ‘Like’ a page is a single action, no need for any approval.

Check in

A great feature for businesses that operate from a physical shopfront is the option to link the page with their address. This allows for fans to ‘check in’ to the business, sometimes even sharing photos of their purchase or time there. The viral nature of facebook means that your business has the opportunity to reach an even greater number of facebook users by appearing in the newsfeeds of their friends.

Ad campaign

Facebook ads are only available to business pages, and they can be a great way to increase your reach at a budget that you deem appropriate. Selecting your correct target market for the ad campaign can make your marketing dollars stretch further. If you are serious about growing your business presence on social media, you should at least consider facebook ad campaigns.

Insights

Do you know how many people are seeing your posts? With facebook insights you can track the success of your page and its posts. The insights will show you when your fans are online, which posts they engage with, the demographics of your fans and so much more. All this valuable information helps you tailor your marketing plans to achieve greater success.

Facebook Insights

Customised apps

Customised apps are a great way to bring more information and interaction to your facebook page, especially if you don’t have a website. If you do have a website, you can link to specific pages on your website – sending more traffic back to your website. Think about adding customised apps for your products or services, newsletter sign up, online store or even blog posts. All of which give your customers and potential customers more information about your business.

Admin delegation

With a facebook business page, you have the option to share the admin responsibilities with others you trust. Roles can vary depending on the level of experience or responsibility. ie Manager, Content Creator, Moderator, Advertiser and Insights Analyst. It’s a great way to delegate the ongoing marketing of your page with other member of your team or even your Virtual Assistant.

Facebook Admin Roles

Relevant Business Information

Have you seen the birthday reminders for XYZ business? If you operate your business as a profile, you would have been required to select a gender and birthdate for your business - not relevant information for your business. I’m sure your clients would rather know relevant information such as website, products and services than fictional details. With facebook pages, can add all relevant business information making it easier for clients and potential clients to connect with you.

There are still more features we haven’t mentioned such as being able to schedule posts, making use of offers, contents, celebrating milestones, ta...

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Date posted: 2013-11-12 | Comments(1)


20 ways to Save the Planet!


Climate change is a very real issue, and many businesses find it a challenge to manage day to day business operations while minimising their impact on the environment.

Do you think it’s too hard to be environmentally friendly? Reducing the environmental impact of your business will improve the sustainability of your business, give your business a reason to stand out from its competitors, as well as positive impacts our environment.

We are so passionate about our impact on the environment, we have established an Environmental Policy for EVA. If you'd like to see our commitment, click here.

We have some tips to help you go green below, but first you might like to calculate the carbon footprint of your business. Use this calculator from Carbon Neutral.

Now, the ideas on how to go green, try implementing the following ideas in your business;

1. Partnering with a Virtual Assistant as a great way to make a difference with the planet! A Virtual Assistant works from their own office, immediately saving to not only your operational and equipment costs. When you use electronic communication, such as skype, email and the phone, you effectively reduce the use of paper and consumables.

Here is a list of additional ways EVA HQ operates to minimise its impact on the environment.

2. Working from our home office! No commuting to the office each day.

3. Think before print! We have even added a reminder to the bottom of our emails, prompting others to think before printing also.

4. Use both sides of the paper.

5. Turn scrap paper into note pads.

6. Shred paper into animal bedding or compost.

7. Use cloud based accounting programs for your bookkeeping. We recommend and use Freshbooks to store our business receipts and delivers client invoices electronically.

8. Turn off appliances when not in use, and even removing power cords from the power point to conserve energy.

9. Regular maintenance & servicing of appliances and equipment. Including air conditioner and leaking taps.

10. Install a water tank. We now have 3 tanks catching water for us to use in our garden.

11. Install a solar system to save on electricity use.

12. Empty water bottle or drinking glass into your pot plants or garden, not down the sink.

13. Reduce landfill – recycle all items that can be recycled or repurposed.

14. Use refillable ink cartridges and toners. We use and recommend Ink on the Run Bendigo.

15. Compost green waste.

16. Purchase recycled items, paper etc. We use Reflex or J.Burrows, who both provide 100% recycled paper.

17. Car pool when attending meetings, conferences or events.

18. Offset carbon emission, we calculate and offset usage from the EVA office and any travel with Carbon Offset Programs.

19. Plant a tree. We have partnered with Carbon Neutral to purchase a tree for all of our clients every year.

20. Support and participate in events such as Clean Up Australia Day and Planet Ark's Friday Fling Read more

Date posted: 2013-11-03 | Comments(2)


National First for EVA!


Registered Australian Virtual BusinessWith outsourcing on the rise, small business owners are looking to increase their productivity with reputable outsourcing partnerships that will add value to their business. But business owners face a real risk of outsourcing to freelancers who aren’t all they say they are. A local Bendigo business, is the first business to achieve an industry membership, giving local and nation-wide Clients confidence when selecting a business to outsource their administration needs to.

The peer review process, administered and issued by the Australian Virtual Business Network (AVBN) has been developed to ensure the highest possible level of service and commitment. The Australian Virtual Business Network (AVBN) has awarded Bendigo’s Sam Spence, from Executive Virtual Associate the first Registered Australian Virtual Business (RAVB) membership.

Rosie Shilo from the AVBN explains, “There are some really amazing Virtual Assistants here in Australia, and we want to support and recognise them. Originally AVBN was set up to showcase more experienced VAs but we also want to support newer VAs who have shown passion and dedication to their business. We are so proud to have Sam as our first RAVB member.”

“The AVBN is not an agency, but through the membership application process, we ensure our Virtual Business members provide the highest possible level or service and commitment.” says Rosie.

A Virtual Assistant is a highly-skilled, independent professional entrepreneur who provides remote administrative, technical and/or creative business support services to clients locally, nationally or globally.

Partnering with a Registered Australian Virtual Business can provide;

    • Expertise in administration areas currently lacking
    • Greater confidence in quality of work produced
    • Provide greater work - life balance for business owners
    • Cost effective administration support

Sam Spence, owner of Executive Virtual Associate has been providing remote administration support since 2010, working to support clients from Bendigo, Echuca, Melbourne and interstate.

“I believe this recent certification, will give Clients greater comfort in outsourcing their projects to a Virtual Assistant, who can show they are dedicated and operate with strong ethics.” Sam said. “And therefore increase their business productivity”.

For further information on why small business owners benefit in outsourcing, contact Sam Spence - Owner & Executive Virtual Assistant, Executive Virtual Associate.


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Date posted: 2013-10-24 | Comments(0)


It's our First Birthday!

 

Celebrating 1 Year in business, Executive Virtual Associate

7th October 2013 marks the first anniversary of the launch of Executive Virtual Associate. It’s a proud and exciting time. Running a small business is not easy, and there has been times over the last year, when I considered if I had taken on more than I could manage. But here I am, 12 months down the track since the idea of operating my own Virtual Assistance business began.

Upon reflection the journey has been a great ride, and I have grown in so many ways.

I had never considered furthering my formal education since finishing secondary school. However in the last 12 months, I’ve achieved a Certificate I in Virtual Business Administration, and 2 Diploma Certificates (Social Media Marketing & Business Administration). My thirst for successful business knowledge has been quenched by my new and continually expanding business network connections, as well as many other references and resources.

I’ve been fortunate enough to meet so many inspiring people, of which several have shared their knowledge with me about running a successful business. Those insights have saved me both time and money. They have often inspired and encouraged me to keep on going when I’ve felt the overwhelming pressures of running a small new business. Read about the people who have inspired me here.

I’m dedicated and passionate about the new VA business I’ve created. By way of promoting my passion to potential and current clients, I am close to achieving two Virtual Assistant accreditations – Internationally recognised VA Certified & AVBN’s Registered Virtual Business.

Of course I’m still learning about building a better business, and making mistakes is all part of the learning process, but those mistakes have helped to develop and shape the business that I am creating. As they say, making mistakes is part of life – as long as we learn from it!

Finally, I would like to say a sincere thank you to my family, friends, and supporters who believed in me and my vision, and of course my clients for helping Executive Virtual Associate grow and flourish to what it is today.


by Sam Spence - Owner & Executive Virtual Assistant, Executive Virtual Associate.


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Date posted: 2013-10-06 | Comments(3)


Do you need an Assistant?

 Is this you? Business is booming, your client base is growing and finally all the hard work you’ve directed into your business is paying off! You love your business, it’s your baby and you’re so pleased with the direction it’s heading, but you need more time! You’re forever busy, never getting to the bottom of ‘the list’, sometimes you feel like you live at the office. Then there is the dream of more time to continue to grow the business to the next level, not to mention the need for more time to spend with your family and friends!

Whatever the reason, it’s time things changed! A personal or executive assistant would be an added benefit not only to the business, but also your lifestyle. Someone to handle the things you never have time to do – email management, social media, client correspondence, event planning, the list goes on. Imagine how nice it would be to get to the bottom of your ‘to do list’.

So what’s stopping you?......

· Where would the assistant work? We don’t have any additional space, not to mention new computer, phone line etc. that’s needed. When you partner with a Virtual Assistant you don’t need to think about office space, furniture and equipment. Virtual Assistants work from their own location, with their own technology and communication tools (including software). With the technology available now, just about everything can be done with a click or a call!

· I don’t have any time to advertise, interview and recruit! One of the best ways to find a reputable Virtual Assistant is to ask around. Check out LinkedIn for mutual connections, and endorsements, ask your network for recommendations, view testimonials on websites. There are, of course, a few networks available to take the headaches away from sourcing the best Assistant for your needs.(Virtually Yours Virtual Assistants).

· I don’t have time to train a new staff member! A Virtual Assistant is a business owner in their own right, they make it their responsibility to be trained, and ready to work on your business with you, ensuring business continuity. Remember you’re partnering with the Virtual Assistant, so if you need to train them, you’ve partnered with the wrong person! Who knows, perhaps you will learn from their expertise!

· How can the business afford the extra expenses – superannuation, work cover etc.? Firstly, Virtual Assistants are independent contractors so superannuation and work cover costs are not passed onto their Clients. But really the question you should be asking is how can I afford not to hire a Virtual Assistant – How much is your time worth to you? Let’s say you decided to outsource 10 hours per week to a Virtual Assistant, this will cost you between $400 to $500. You’ve now freed up 10 hours normally spent on administration, that time can be directed back to your own business Clients! How much is your time worth - $80 per hour? You now have the opportunity to earn twice as much as you’ve spent - $800! And that’s based on a one off 10 hours example, imagine the long term gains!

Don't waste any more time, contact us today, and start   increasing your business productivity by delegating to    Executive Virtual Associate.

by Sam Spence - Owner & Executive Virtual Assistant, Executive Virtual Associate.

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Date posted: 2013-07-31 | Comments(0)


Networking or Inspiring?


 More than 9 months ago, I started on my own new career journey. While the nature and timing was not my own choosing, the path certainly was! While updating my personal profile on LinkedIn - I somewhat stumbled onto the Virtual Assistant Industry. What has followed since then has been a consistent journey of inspiration, learning and personal growth. Upon regular reflection, the thing that amazes me the most is the personal stories of the people I have met along the way!

Let me explain more….

To set off on the right foot with my new career adventure, I enrolled and attended a Cert I in Virtual Business Administration (yes, a course dedicated to those wanting to become a Virtual Professional exists). It was at this 2 day event, I met a few ladies that I am sure will stay firm friends for a long time to come. (You know who you are!) One of those new lasting friendships was with Jennifer. Like the other entrepreneurs in this article, Jennifer’s business has been created following her personal experiences. Through the experience of losing her dad and supporting her mum’s transition into a nursing home – Leave It With Me was born. Through her business, Jennifer supports family members who are struggling with the often overwhelming and confusing mass of paperwork.

Back in my home town of Bendigo, I attended a ladies only networking event, also attended by Michelle. Michelle is mum, wife, inventor and business owner. Following a family members terrifying experience with drink spiking, she was inspired to invent a drink spiking preventative. The stories Michelle has heard in relation to drink spiking incidents is simply frightening for any parent to hear. Imagine waking up naked and alone in a stranger house, remembering nothing about how you ended up in this circumstance! Simply terrifying! I urge you all to read more about how prevalent drink spiking is and help Slip Me Not can protect your loved ones from such a frightening and life altering experience.

Last month I attended and enjoyed a Publicity Princess workshop, presented by Kate Engler and had the opportunity to meet more inspiring business owners. Julie was one of these inspiring business owners. She is a breast cancer survivor who founded Perfect Again. Perfect Again Breastforms came from not finding the right external breast prosthesis in the marketplace following her mastectomy in 2002. Julie has created a breastform that fits her properly, is lightweight and goes unnoticed by those who are unaware of her medical & surgical history. Julie is now working with other women, post and pre mastectomy to give them a breastform that makes them feel like a whole women. How inspirational is Julie’s journey!

It is on reflection, thinking of these ladies and their journeys that I feel totally blessed to have been ‘encouraged’ into making a career change. As I mentioned earlier, my personal growth and development has been extraordinary since making the decision to launch Executive Virtual Associate. I am excited about the many new faces I will have the opportunity to meet and learn from.

I encourage you all to get out there and met new people – Network and be Inspired!

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By Sam Spence - Owner & Executive Virtual Assistant,Executive Virtual Associate.

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Date posted: 2013-06-28 | Comments(1)


8 ways to increase exposure with your facebook business page.

Are you struggling to make the most of your facebook business page?

Here are 8 easy ideas to increase your exposure with your facebook business page.

Related: Facebook Audit Checklist
Please remember this is just a sample of ideas to help increase your exposure. If you would like further ideas on increasing your facebook reach, contact Sam at Executive Virtual Associate, and learn more about how partnering with a Virtual Assistant can help your facebook community grow!

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By Sam Spence - Owner & Executive Virtual Assistant,Executive Virtual Associate.

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Date posted: 2013-05-31 | Comments(0)


3 easy ways to keep your Clients coming back!


Without Clients every business would cease to exist. And we all recognise it’s much cheaper to retain your existing clients than it is to convert new clients. In fact it has been said that it costs 5 times as much to gain a new client as it does to retain an existing one. So the importance of keeping your existing clients satisfied should be a strong focus for any good business. While quality Customer Service is important, it is not the only priority when aiming to maintain existing clients.

Here is a few ideas on embracing your current client base and keep them coming back to buy more!

Clients are consumers, but they are also a valuable source of information. As current users of your products and services, they form opinions on how your products and services could be improved or developed, as well as sounding boards for new product ideas. Are your products actually meeting their needs? If you have a new product to be launched, how will you know if your Clients will purchase it? Surveys are a great tool to use to gauge your Clients opinions and ideas. Asking your clients will help determine any concerns from the user’s opinion. Surveys can be tailored to suit the needs of your business. They can be conducted online, verbally or with written responses.

Social Media, you either love it or hate it, but guess what – your clients are using it! Have you considered that your competitors are more than likely using social media also? Let’s look at facebook as an example. Over 12 million Australians are using facebook, which does include your target market. Are they talking about your products or services? Unless you have a facebook presence you might not know. Engaging with your target market via social media allows them an outlet to ask questions, share experiences with your business, become aware of new products or learning about your business – all of which leads to strengthening their relationship with your brand.

Do you have clients that haven’t purchased from you in some time? How do you keep your business in their minds? How do you let them know of your new products or business developments? Consider newsletters, they can be sent frequently to remind and educate your clients about your business as well as your products and services. Perhaps you have special offers or other valuable tips to share, newsletters can be a very effective way of informing and updating your clients, especially for those clients who don’t always visit your business premises.

Let Executive Virtual Associate help your business support your business in developing your current clients into raving fans for your business.

Related: Learn more about partnering with a Virtual Assistant.

Contact us now, to learn more about the benefits in partnering with a Virtual Assistant, and share your workload with us, not your office.

by Sam Spence - Owner & Executive Virtual Assistant, Executive Virtual Associate.

Download our complimentary eBook; Outsourcing is not a dirty word.

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Date posted: 2013-05-05 | Comments(4)


What is good Customer Service?

Sam Spence

Last year I established my own business. Like most small business owners, I spent (and continue to spend) a great deal of time reading and researching the best practises, tips and smart ideas to ensure my business succeeds. What amazed me is the lack of focus regarding the importance of actual Customer Service. Much of the content I have read was focussed on sales & numbers! Having spent over 22 years working for one of ‘the big four banks’, customer service and satisfaction remains one of the main differentials when Customers were selecting a Bank. My former employer was an organisation who provided regular training and programs to enhance and improve the standard of their Customer satisfaction and service standards. This focus has put me in good stead for my new venture as a business owner. So let me share some of my lessons with you.

 1. Respond. It really is a simple step, but some businesses fail to look after their existing clientele. Whether the Client is in your store, is on your social media page, or sent you an email, they are looking for your acknowledgement. Clients will contact you for different reasons, questions about your product/service, complaint, or maybe a referral opportunity. Whatever the reason you must respond to them. Put simply, if your Client contacts you, answer them! I acknowledge that sometimes it’s not always practical to respond immediately, but ensure you do. If you use social media, be sure you check it regularly or have notifications set up when a client posts a comment or question on your wall etc. Failing to acknowledge social media comments (whether good or bad) gives the impression of not caring about your customer. Not returning calls is poor business behaviour. Imagine a builder who failed to return calls for a client who had recently moved into their new home. Unbeknown to the builder, this client was planning to build an investment property; needless to say another building company constructed the client’s investment property.

2. Listen. Your business success is dependent on your Clients. What are they saying about your brand? Are they happy with the new features on your product? How was the service they received last time they were in your place of business? You can listen in many ways. Of course the simplest is to have a face-to-face conversation, but you can also conduct surveys or search for conversations on social media. Whatever form you use to listen to your Clients, you are creating opportunities to improve your products/services based on the opinion of the people using your business. Remember, without Clients, you don’t have a business.

3. Be Personal. How about emails, how many times have you sent off an email to an organisation or company and got the standard company line response? Frustrating isn’t it. I have another personal experience to share with you. I use Freshbooks for my business, and came across a situation that I couldn’t find answer for amongst their FAQ, so I sent an email. Imagine my surprise, when a personal and prompt response was received – acknowledging my question, explaining the process for my query was being developed, providing me with a work-around in the meantime, and expressing best wishes for my business success. What did I do next? Respond publically via social media that I was just as impressed with Freshbooks programs as I was with their customer service. Providing that ‘Personal Touch’ can turn satisfied customers into “raving fans!”.

4. Respect. Your client is a person, and it is important to treat them as such. I love to share the story of a former team member, whose customer service always stood out. When she was looking after a client nothing else mattered - other than that client! She would ignore the distractions around her (including other colleagues), and give the customer her undivided Attention. Whatever the customer needed assistance with was her priority. Customers loved her for it and it allowed her to establish a great rapport with them. They didn’t feel like a number or a sales target, they felt like a valued client.

This is by no means an exclusive list, but there are many other behaviours that Customers like to see from their chosen service provider, but there is a few common aspects that could ensure your business stands out from your competition. After all, Customer Service defines the ongoing relationship between the Client and the Brand. Every business needs customers, and if your service is lacking your business will fail to progress. Take the time to listen to your customers, engage with them, show respect and being personal will highlight a point of difference between your service and that of your competitors. Remember the customer is number 1.

You may also be interested in our article about how to keep your clients coming back.

Share your workload with us, not your office - Contact Us and learn more about partnering with Virtual Assistant can help your business grow!

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Date posted: 2013-04-24 | Comments(2)


Do you know the differences between a Temp & VA?

So you’ve decided to delegate some of your growing workload to someone else. Well done! You’ll soon see the benefits first hand of freeing up your time to focus on  generating more revenue for your business. But now is the tricky  question, a Temp or a VA? You understand how hiring a temp works, but other business leaders have been talking about hiring a Virtual  Assistant. What should you do? Consider the following points to help see the benefits of partnering with a VA.

1.Consistency. Picture this – You call the temp agency you have used in the past, the consultant you prefer to deal with is on holidays. You like dealing with the same consultant to ensure she sends you staff who meet your needed skill set. Then you find out the temp you have used in the past is no longer available! So, the agency sends you a temp you haven’t worked with before, she is capable, but just doesn’t understand how your business operates.You end up spending more time explaining your specific requirements to her. When you partner with a VA, you maintain the consistency. It’s always the same VA, working for you and ensuring your ‘quirks’ are remembered and considered. Plus if you partner with a  Virtual Assistant who has a team support the business, usually a procedure guide is created to ensure your processes are always followed with the same accuracy.

2.Caring. Like you, a VA is a business owner. Business owners understand the importance of client satisfaction to ensure their survival. For that reason, a VA will take a great deal of care to ensure their clients (YOU) remain satisfied and business relationship continues. Therefore your business is just as important to them as their own business; they take additional care to ensure your expectations are exceeded. This includes when they are dealing with your clients, a Virtual Assistant is focussed on your business growth and success as much as their own.

3.Cost. Temp agency costs are high, consider how they are calculated - They include the employee’s hourly rate, superannuation, work-cover, as well as their company commission and administration charges. A VA is contracted for a set hourly rate or retainer, but you are not expected to cover addition costs such as superannuation and work-care etc. Now consider the ‘hidden costs’ – electricity to run the equipment your temp uses, and other office consumables, etc. As a VA works remotely to you, all consumable costs are covered by the VA! More money in your business bank account, not the temp agencies.

4.Clock Watching. So the temp arrives at your office at 9am, you show her around, and get her started at the workstation. After lunch, the temp has a social chat with one of your other employees, the conversation lasts for 15 minutes. Do you realise, you are charged for the non-productive time? A VA will stop the clock to take another call, make a cuppa etc. With a VA, you pay only for the task related hours. Now let’s consider the end of the day. The Temp knocks off at 5pm, most of the work is done, but a couple of items remain incomplete - a VA is focussed on completing the task and meeting your deadline.

5.Collaborative. Every VA is usually a member of  several networks. If you need a task completed, and your current VA is unable to take on the project, chances are she will know another VA or service provider who specialises in that field. A quick phone call or email and you can be connected with a specialist in that field.

Hopefully that helps you understand some of the differences between a Temp and a VA. Don’t forget VAs are responsible for their own training and development, and it’s imperative our skills remain updated – So you always get the best service possible and the best return on your dollar!

For more information on partnering with a Virtual Assistant, give us a call.

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By Sam Spence - Owner & Executive Virtual Assistant, Executive Virtual Associate.

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Date posted: 2013-04-08 | Comments(2)


Australian VA Conference 2013

 The Virtual Assistant Industry is alive and growing at a rapid rate. I know this as I have just returned from a two day Australian VA Conference in Sydney. This was the fourth annual conference, but the first time it was held outside Melbourne, and it drew International delegates and speakers.

The event was a great opportunity to meet other VAs that I would have only previously interacted with online. We shared ideas, compared notes and more importantly worked on concepts to enhance grow within the Australian VA Industry. The support and expertise that a VA can bring to a business is often invaluable, but to hear that Australian businesses don’t realise highly skilled and affordable VA’s within our own shores is very disheartening.

But working on expanding and increased awareness is not the only topic that was discussed. Facebook Australia’s Small Business Manager, Nick Bowditch spoke about using the viral nature of facebook to benefit business. Including growing audience’s engagement and brand recognition. My tip for Clients, both existing and new is – If your business can’t be found on Social Media, your competitors who are engaging social media, will be winning the new clients and potentially attracting clients from your business!

Pam Brossman, best-selling author and publisher of the first online magazine, shared her experiences in digital marketing, including ideas in promoting businesses to stand out from their competitors. US based, Donna Toothaker, covered the important topic of moving to a Value Based Business. BE Institute’s Christine McKee, shared valuable insights into empowering yourself in every moment and opportunity to achieve awesome results.

I have many pages of notes from the conference which I am still reviewing for to benefit my own business but also for my current Clients. The learning continues well after the last farewell was said at the conclusion of the conference. As an attendee of the event, I also received a $6000 grant to receive 12 months membership to the business coaching Time Retriever Academy.

So if you could use the expert services of a Virtual Assistant for your business needs Contact Us now.
by Sam Spence - Owner & Executive Virtual Assistant, Executive Virtual Associate.

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Date posted: 2013-04-02 | Comments(0)


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