How to plan your social media

Blog post – How to plan your social media.

Social Media
Photo by Merakist on Unsplash

Social media is one part of a business that a lot of business owners worry about. They are concerned that they don’t know the technology, are not sure what to post or even how to create content. It really is not that hard – you just need to plan.

For me, I plan my social media one month in advance which then frees me up to work on other parts of my business.  I don’t have to stress.  I know that however my day goes, my social media will automatically be posted.
Planning is the key point to all social media platforms – whether you use Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, or Pinterest. If you have a plan in mind that is relevant to your business and to your customers, you will reach your target audience. As long as you do not do the constant hard-sell customers will engage with your page. The general rule of thumb is to share 80% information, 20% selling (80/20 rule).

Daily Themes

Firstly, you need to work out a guideline to what you want to post – each day post something different. For instance, you could set out your themes for each day. An example might be:

Monday – Motivation
Tuesday – share an article/blog post
Wednesday – Promote your business /Share wisdom
Thursday – Biztip
Friday – Funny /Freebie

I create all my social media graphics in https://www.canva.com/ – this program has a free level, that you can use to great all types of graphics social media posts, reports, videos etc. There are many other apps you can use like https://spark.adobe.com/  but canva is my favourite, as I find it easy to use.

When I create my social media posts in canva, I download them and save them in folders for each topic on my harddrive. eg create a folder for motivation and each motivational social post is then saved a number (motivation 1, motivation 2 etc). Doing this for each theme is then very useful when you start planning your social media – your social media graphics are all kept in one place and are easily found.

Once you have your basic guideline that suits your business, you can then plan your monthly social media around that.

Planning

Each month, I sit down and plan my social media – I use a social media calendar. This is one that I created myself.

Social Media Planner

Each month I write in the days of the month, record what my goal might be and then write down the posts I want to schedule.

This is a social media planner I created for myself to use, and will soon be available to purchase as a pdf downloadable file. Write the dates in from 1-30 for the month you are planning, and you are ready to go.

Looking at your guideline, you then write in what you want to post on each day.
On the Mondays of your calendar, choose a motivation graphic and write that in each Monday spot eg Motivational 3, Motivational 7, Motivation 10, Motivation 1. Do this for each day on the calendar following your guideline for each daily theme.

Scheduling

Once you have planned out your month’s social media, you can then start scheduling them. I schedule my Facebook posts on Facebook using the scheduler – some people will use a third-party social media scheduler apps/programs like smarterque or later.

In your scheduler, create a post for each day that you have planned – once scheduled, tick that day off on your social media calendar. This is a really effective way to know where you are up to when you cannot schedule all the posts at once.  Using this method you can see where you are up to easily and can then continue without getting confused.

For me, I like to keep my social media calendar under my keyboard until all posts are scheduled – I then file this away in a folder to use as a reference when planning in future months, as you can see what you have used before and therefore not double up by posting the same thing each month. This also allows you to reuse old content that you have not used before.

I hope that this has been very useful to you and that it helps you to get the most out of your social media. This format can also be useful for other streams of social media like Instagram.

Please note I have not received any endorsement or been paid by any of the apps or platforms that I have mentioned here in this article, and that no part of this blogpost may be copied/used without the approval of Secretarial Online.

COVID-19 How you can get your business through it

How to help get your business through the COVID-19 Pandemic


protecting your business

There has been a lot of panic recently about the COVID-19 virus and its effects not only on ourselves and our family but on our businesses as well. The economy seems to be in a state of stress and if we are all made to shut down due to the rapid spread of this virus, what can we do to protect our businesses? I believe with some careful planning we can all get through this.

By doing a Business Continuity plan you can plan for and put systems in place to help get your business through and shut down period. Here are some questions that I think you need to consider.

Business Continuity plan

  1. Is there a way or you to still function on a skeleton staff or remotely?

In your business, can you continue to operate if everything is shut down? Are you able to operate with only a skeleton staff of key personnel? For example, if you are a restaurant or café, can you continue to operate with customers only being able to do takeaway orders? If you are service-based, can you move face to face meetings to video or phone conferencing?

2. what resources do you need to function?

These are the types of things to keep your business going for example if you are a restaurant, these could be deliveries of stock, minimal staff eg cook and waiter/front counter staff. If you are a service-based business like an accountant, it would be a laptop, internet connection, phone – home office.

3. what is the time frame your business has before things become critical?

At what point will things become critical to your business – how many days, weeks months before your business goes into the ‘red’ as you are unable to pay staff, suppliers etc.

4. How many staff are required to get you through?

Think about what the minimum staff requirement for your business to function would be. If you are a restaurant, for example, you may be able to cope with just a cook and one wait/front counter staff. If you are an accountant (or any other service-based business), it may be an admin or accounts staff to pay wages and bills to suppliers. Can you put all unnecessary staff on leave?

5. What software/apps are required for your business to function?

Think about the software and apps you use in your business. What are the critical ones you need to function? Is it an accounting software, project management software, office programs, etc. Can these be used off-site in a remote office if need be? Are there any other programs or apps that could be useful to you and your staff – like messaging apps, project management apps, etc. like Slack and Asana. You can even download apps to scan documents to email if you do not have a scanner at home.

6. Are there safety practices that you can introduce to continue operating?

These can be more stringent hand washing between each client you see.• Having hand sanitizer available for your clients/customers to use,
• limit the size of functions etc.
• Ask all clients/customers who have not been well or have been overseas to reschedule their appointments

7. Can you change face to face meetings to video or phone meetings?

We live in an amazing world of technology, and at times like this, we can fully embrace this technology to continue with our business practices. There are many apps/programs that you can use for video conferencing like Skype, zoom, and hangouts. Moving your meetings online can be really useful for businesses, including personal training, counseling, accounting businesses. It is time to get creative and think out of the box.

Now that you have all of this information, – you can start to action your plan by putting systems in place to help your business to continue function – even if it is at a much slower rate.

Other Useful links

Department of Health

https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert?utm_source=health.gov.au&utm_medium=redirect&utm_campaign=digital_transformation&utm_content=health-topics%2Fnovel-coronavirus-2019-ncov&fbclid=IwAR0HwaxXu0RNNfsDQtAKQ-Tq2muguAL7Wuybci5Kc_mDDOoE6AzgEPoirnY

Government corona virus stimulus package for small businesses

The government released a stimulus package to help keep small businesses afloat and employees in work. This includes cash flow payments, wage subsidy, increase in instant asset write-off and 50% accelerated depreciation for investments. You can find more information on
https://www.smallbusiness.wa.gov.au/blog/coronavirus-stimulus-package-small-business

NSW Small Business Commissioner

https://www.smallbusiness.nsw.gov.au/get-help/covid-19-coronavirus-information-small-business-owners

Bank Emergency Coronavirus packages

Another useful link for those that are reliant on bank loans, the big 4 banks have coronavirus relief packages. You can get more information about this on the below link.

https://mozo.com.au/home-loans/articles/guide-to-australian-banks-emergency-coronavirus-relief-packages?fbclid=IwAR0CsNUBRBb7gpi2P-BSX0b3usrx4K6DSsa6VVR-BCXRwH89Ba6vqvqxBzk

If we all stay calm and take precautions, we will make it through this troubling time.  Stay safe everyone, and stay positive!

 

Please note I have not received any endorsement or been paid by any of the apps or platforms that I have mentioned here in this article.

Photo by Ani Kolleshi on Unsplash

Outsourcing to an Australian VA – Why it is good for your Australian business

Australian Virtual Assistant

Why should you outsource to Australian VAs

I am an Australian Virtual Assistant, my passion is to help small businesses grow to be the best they can be.

When I tell people that I am a VA, I sometimes get a funny look. They either don’t know what a VA is, assume I am one of ‘them’  like the VA’s from overseas, or that I am doing this for a hobby – and it’s not a real job. This really does frustrate me, and I feel that I need to educate them as to what a real VA is.

What is a Virtual Assistant?

A virtual assistant is any person, male or female, that can do their job remotely. These Virtual Assistants are contractors, and are industry experts that come from a range of fields, including but not limited to:

• Web design
• Marketing
• HR
• Bookkeeping
• Accounting
• Admin and secretarial services
• Desktop publishers
• Life coaches
• Business mentors
• Social media marketing
• Lawyers
• Financial planners
• Mortgage Brokers

As business owners, we are constantly pressed for time and am constantly juggling all the things that need to be done to keep our business running. We also, get to the point where we think about outsourcing tasks, but worry about doing so – VA’s are only overseas right? No, we have an amazing VA industry right here in Australia.

There are many reasons to outsource certain tasks in your business – it saves you time and in the long term can save you money. But when outsourcing, have you ever considered outsourcing to someone here in Australia?
I was at a digital marketing seminar last year when the person presenting started talking about outsourcing tasks. This really got my interest and I sat up to pay attention. They made comments like ‘Just put what you want on fiver – that’s what I did, someone from overseas did it and now, as a result, I am able to employ staff here.’  and ‘it’s cheap – and you get things done that would cost more if you went to a web designer, but do be careful who use ‘.

Being a VA myself, I quickly raised my hand and asked the question – ‘why would you outsource overseas when you have Virtual Assistants or Virtual Contractors here in Australia who are experts in their field, that could do exactly the same thing, for about the same price?’ Everyone in the room turned and looked at me. I was then asked if I was one of them – I proudly said yes.

Nothing upsets me more than hearing stories of businesses outsourcing tasks overseas as it is cheap, but then complain that the task is not quite done how they like or that it had to be redone because the overseas VA did not understand the language used or the actual task. This gives the VA industry, including here in Australia, a bad reputation. I then shared with everyone the reasons why you should choose an Australian VA over an Overseas one.

These include:

  • Australian Virtual Contactors understand the Australian language.
  • Understand the Australian consumer laws.
  • Are in the same time zone and are happy to chat via phone, video conferencing not just email.
  • Are qualified industry experts – not someone learning/training to get qualified.
  • You are giving a fellow Australian a jobSuffice to say, that day myself and the fellow VA’s I was with did a lot of networking – so many local businesses where keen to know all about what we did, were we were located, and if we could help them.

At a local business network meeting, I was also last year, when I introduced myself and what I did, a fellow businessman said to me ‘oh I have a VA from overseas’. My response to him was ‘So how is that going for you?’ he was surprised but then confided in me that he found out the hard way that he had to be very specific with what needs to be done by this overseas VA, as they did not quite understand what was needed, and he had to redo that task himself. So in a nutshell, he felt he had initially wasted his money, but now he knew what they could and could not do – he was also surprised when I pointed out to him that we had many amazing Virtual Assistants here in Australia – and he was one of them. He was a web designer working remotely from a home office.

The VA industry has grown here in Australia and we now even Virtual Assistant Networks here in Australia that can help you find a Virtual Assistant for your business – I am members of a few of these amazing networks. These networks help to connect business owners with the right VA and also provide amazing support to the VAs that are members of them. Two of the best local networks in my opinion are:

Virtual Assistant Networks

Virtually Yours

The Virtually Yours Virtual Assistant Network is based in Melbourne and is run by the amazing Rosie Shilo. There are members from right across Australia in this network. You can browse the contractor listing or submit a job lead to Virtually Yours outlining what you need to have done, the experience you need the VA to have and how to contact you. The members see that job lead, and if that job lead is what they excel in, they will then email you an application for that job. You will then be able to go through and pick the VA’s that you would like to chat with and then pick the one that is the best fit for you. You even have the option to have ‘referenced checked’ contractors only respond to your job lead. Reference Checked Contractors are people that have been vetted to do the task. You can find more information about Virtually Yours here – https://www.virtuallyyours.com.au/

The VA Directory

The VA Directory is a global network but has its own Australian branch run by Kathie Thomas from A Claytons Secretary, which has members right across Australia. You can do a search on the state you are in and view the VA Directory listing to find a VA near you, or you can post a job lead for the task that you need to be done. This job lead is then emailed to the VA’s and the VA’s will then respond directly to the job lead. VA directory then goes through these job leads and the VA’s that are most suitable are then forwarded to the client to choose from. You can find more information about the Va Directory here https://www.vadirectory.net/australia/

If you are looking for a VA to outsource some of your business tasks to, then look in Australia first – I am part of an amazing network of Vas that do everything from Social media content planning and scheduling, bookkeeping, admin and secretarial support, web design, marketing, graphic design and more. Not only will you have an industry expert that will be easily contactable, understand the language used, tasks required, etc– you will be helping a fellow Australian Small Business.

For more information on how secretarial online can help you, go to https://www.secretarialonline.com.au or email us at rachel@secretarialonliine.com.au

So next time you need a VA – think local. We have some of the world’s best talent right here in our own back yard.

Rachel

What to look for when choosing your 2020 Diary

This blog post was written in collaboration with Veronica Neal from Our Penrith. Veronica asked if I would write a blog post for her Our Penrith Online Business Directory Facebook Group. Being a part of this amazing group of local businesses, I happily agreed. I am a time management person, diaries and planners are my thing!

What to look for when choosing your 2020 diary.

The end of the year is fast approaching, and around this time, we generally start to think about new diaries/planners for the upcoming year. But how do you choose a diary that you will use?

Secretarial online diary planner

 

There are many things to consider when choosing a new diary, but the key is to find one that suits you – one that is easy to use (so you will use it) and easy to carry around. The things you need to think about when choosing a diary/planner are:

• purpose
• layout
• size
• digital/paper

With these in mind, my top tips for choosing a planner that will suit you are the following.

Purpose of the diary

Firstly, you need to think about what the diary/planner is going to be used for. If you are using it purely for appointments only, you may only need a smaller sized diary. This could be pocket sized, A5 sized or digital diary. But if you need to have space for multiple appointments or tasks, you may require a larger A4 diary.

My advice is to keep it simple. The easier it is to read at a glance and use – the more you will use it, and the more organized you will be.

The Layout

The most important part of choosing a diary is to work out which layout is best for you, think about why you are using it. Diaries and planners come in either ‘week to a view’ or ‘day to a page’ layout.

Day to a page – This layout is for someone who needs to plan their whole day, down to hourly or half hourly sections. The one page per day diary has hourly (or half hourly) increments down the left hand side of the page, with plenty of room for you to write appointments and events.

Week to a view – This layout is for someone that prefers to see the week at a glance, where you can scan your week quickly, and know where you need to be without constantly turning pages to see what is happening. The week to a view diary is usually set across two pages, with 3 days on one page and 4 days on the other (or vise versa). As the page is split into multiple days, there is not a lot of room to write things down – you need to be brief and or abbreviate what you record due to limited space.

Some people like a week to a view, but for me, I love the one day to a page diary. This allows me to use a whole page to write appointments, tasks, and notes. Look for a diary that is easy to use, has enough space for what you need it for.

Size

Depending on what you need to use your diary for, there are many shapes, sizes, and styles you can choose from. Think about how much space you will need – do you need something small (pocket), medium (A6) or large (A4) sized. Your diary will need enough space to record all your appointments and events.

The pocket diary is a small diary that is good for taking down notes during conversations/meetings where you feel you shouldn’t use your phone/laptop.

A5 is usually approximately 21cm x 15cm. This type of diary will easily fit inside your bag and is great to jot down notes and information so you don’t forget them

A4 is approximately 30cm x 21cm. This type of diary is bigger and more cumbersome but, gives you plenty of room to write down appointments/events and notes. This size is my favourite and is usually found on my desk.

There are also some diaries/planners that come in binders with sections for calendar/diary entries, business cards, to-do lists, notes etc. A complete organizer – These are fantastic if you need to carry a lot of information around with you. You can purchase the new yearly ‘infill’ and replace with the previous year. These are also available in multiple sizes.

Digital or Paper?

With the evolvement of technology, digital diaries are becoming more popular, but not everyone likes to use digital. Once again, it depends on what you need to use the diary for and if it is easy to use/navigate. If you are old school, you may prefer a paper copy diary – I tend to use both.

Digital diaries are great to use as they are portable, take up no space as they are usually attached to your email, you can access on your phone or laptop/device and you can update it in real-time, and set reminders for appointments/deadlines. The downside is you need to continually go into or open the diary to see what is happening. This is something I sometimes struggle with. I like to be able to glance down and look at a paper diary.

Paper copies are great to have, they can be portable and easily accessible depending on the size you choose, you can also leave them open on a desk to see what is happening at a glance.

I prefer to use a combination of both a physical paper diary as well as a digital diary. My paper diary sits on my desk, where I can easily look at it and add information/appointments too. My digital diary is portable and easily accessible through my phone – you do need to remember to update both regularly though.

I hope this has helped you to think about why you need to use your diary/planner, and to work out what sort of diary will suit you. Sometimes you need to try out a few different styles or types of diaries over a couple of years before you find the right one.

Now it’s up to you – go out, look at what type of diaries/planners are out there, find your diary and be organized next year.

To find out more about Secretarial Online or to subscribe to our mailing list go to our website.

 

Time Management Tips

Howto Manage Time Effectively

 

Time management is something that everyone struggles with from time to time in both their home and business life. But what is time management and how to we manage time effectively?In this blog post, I will share with you some simple ways that can help you manage your time effectively, allowing you to be more productive.

What is time management?

Time management is the process of planning and exercising control of time spent on activities, to increase effectiveness, efficiency and productivity.

What happens when we don’t manage our time well?

  • work flow is poor;
  • time is wasted;
  • We feel like we are losing control;
  • our work quality is poor;
  • which can lead to poor business reputation.

What are the benefits of managing our time?

There are many benefits of managing our time. If we manage our time well, we become more efficient, more productive and feel good about ourselves. These benefits include:

  • Having more time – Being able to manage our time effectively allows you more time to spend doing the things you want to. In our business life, this could mean more time to follow up leads and sales so you can grow your business. In our personal lives, this could be spending more time with our families, working on hobbies etc. People who manage their time well have a good work/life balance.

Getting things done – People who are good at time management are more likely to stay on top of their workload and are regularly ticking things off their to-do list.

  • Feeling less stressed – If we are able to manage our time well by creating task lists and completing these tasks, we feel less stressed and anxious.

How do we manage time effectively?

There are lots of tips out there that help with time management. Google ‘time management’ and lots of information is at the tip of your fingers. Essentially, though, the information is pretty much the same. We need to know the difference between what is urgent and what is not, and how to not waste time.  A few tips that I think are essential to developing strong time management skills are:

  • Plan/organize your day. This seems pretty simple, but lots of people do struggle with planning. Think about everything that needs to be done and write a list. Be as clear as possible, and if you can, write when this task needs to be completed.

 

  • Prioritise. Think about your tasks and separate them into groups of importance. For example, you could group them like this:

– Important and urgent: These are tasks that need to be done straight away.

– Important but not urgent: These are important tasks that do not need to be done immediately and can be done after the urgent tasks.

– Not urgent: These are tasks that can be done later.

Some people will also prefer to colour code each category, for example:

– Urgent – red

– Important but not urgent – yellow

– Not urgent – green

Alternatively, you could also use a numbering system, where 1 is the top priority, 2 is the next important tasks etc.

  • Delegate- If you can delegate a task to someone else, do it.  You can delegate to other staff, or even outsource these tasks to someone else. Delegating tasks will save you time, which can be better used focusing on other parts of your business – like building sales.

Some examples of tasks that can be delegated include:

-accounts work

-social media tasks

-updating/creating websites

-general admin tasks

-data entry

-ordering of stock/stock control.

  • Organise your time. Set yourself a schedule by using your diary. Write down all the deadlines of your tasks; from there it is easier to block out time in your diary and work on certain tasks. Be sure to include time for tasks that need to happen at certain times of the day/week e.g. meetings, accounts work, sales etc.

This is also helpful when scheduling time to work on specific areas of your business – Monday morning is accounts work, Wednesday you are following up sales leads etc.

  • Take breaks. Always ensure you take a break when you are busy, even if it is just 10 mins to go into the kitchen, grab a coffee etc. You will be more focused and motivated if you don’t push yourself and skip lunch.

How do we incorporate these tips into our everyday life as well as our work life?

The above suggestions can be easily used in our everyday life as well as our work life.  This might be writing a to-do list for the next day or week, using a weekly planner to plan your family’s activities and events, or even meal plan – I do, and it not only saves me time in the kitchen umming and ahhing about what to cook, it saves me money as I only purchase the groceries I need each week according to my meal plan.

My kids love it too; since implementing a meal plan years ago, and having each of my children choose a meal that they want each week, I have no more fights at the dinner table and everyone eats and enjoys their dinner!

Secretarial Online is a local Australian virtual assistant that can help you with outsourcing of admin tasks. If you would like information on how Secretarial Online can assist you check out my website www.secretarialonline.com.au

Rachel

Secretarial Online

E rachel@secretarialonline.com.au