Virtual Assistant – What Can they do for me?

Many businesses struggle with day to day admin tasks.  They get snowed down doing everyday tasks like answering phones, booking  appointments, attending to emails, typing quotes etc, This leaves them little or no time to make calls, managing social media accounts and websites etc . They then don’t have the time to do the important tasks, like generating sales, attending meetings, and grow their business.
But outsourcing to a virtual assistant can help. But how can they help? what can they do for me? Outsourcing these tasks to a VA takes the pressure off and allows you to concentrate on growing your business.

So, what sort of tasks can you delegate to a VA?

There are many tasks that can be delegated to a VA, I guess it just depends on what your business requires.  These tasks include:
  • reception/answering the phone. You can divert your phone to the VA and have them answer the phone for you, and email messages to you. This is especially useful when you are attending meetings, traveling or working offsite.

 

  • General Typing, document creation and formatting. A VA can type letters, minutes, create spreadsheets, presentations and reports, even do data entry, saving you valuable time.

 

  • Booking appointments/calendar management.  Your VA can schedule appointments and manage your calendar, ensuring that you are organised. This is very helpful to some businesses due to workload and amount of travel that staff may need to do.

 

  • Email Management. Your VA can sort through and manage an email account that receives a large number of emails daily. They can organise the emails into folders and to make it easier for you to follow up.

 

  • Manage Social media accounts. Our social media accounts are something that all businesses need, but managing them takes a lot of time. Whether it is to plan and schedule updates to facebook, linkedin, or instagram, planning, typing and sharing things online to give a great social media presence is time consuming.

 

  • Bookkeeping and accounts. This is the most common outsourced task.  From basic accounts and invoicing to uploading of receipts, reconciling of accounts and payroll.  Bookkeepers are a great asset to small businesses.

 

  • Website creation and management. Just like social media management, websites also take up a lot of time. Some VAs specialise in creating and managing websites.
The benefits of outsourcing to a VA is that they are contractors, and you only pay for the hours a VA works for you,  ie. if you just need assistance for 5 hours per week, you only pay for that 5 hours.  The amount of hours you wish to hire a VA is entirely up to you. Some businesses prefer to hire a VA for a certain amount of hours per week and enter into an agreement for that, others just hire for adhoc projects.
Contact us today to see how Secretarial Online can help you at rachel@secretarialonline.com.au

 

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

Organising File Systems

How to Organise File Systems

I love organising, especially file systems, and have re-organised file systems at every job I have had.  I have even been known to take whole shelves of books and refile them alphabetically the right way at my children’s primary school – needless to say, the librarians loved me for it.

Organising file systems can sometimes seem so complicated and overwhelming.  How do you file something? Where do you file it? What do I file it under? It really can seem all too hard – but it really isn’t.

So, how do you set up/organise a filing system? First of all, you need to develop a system that is right for your business. There is no single correct way to do this. Each business is different, and therefore the filing system categories/topics they use may vary to other businesses. some file alphabetically, some by month, it all depends on what is right for your business.

Are you starting a filing system from scratch, or just reorganising a system that is not working for you? Maybe you are just needing to maintain the system that you already have. In today’s society, we are slowly moving away from ‘paper files’ but we still need to have them. In this article I will share with you ways to do both hard copy paper filing and electronic filing.

PAPER/HARD COPY FILES

What do you need?

You need to consider how much space you have in your office to work with.  Will you be filing in a file cabinet or on a shelf? If filing on a shelf, you will need a cupboard to store your files, as well as folders to store your paperwork in.  If you are using a filing cabinet, you will need a filing cabinet to a size that suits you, manila files and hanging suspension files to put your manila files in.

These are some ways that I use that can help you with organising and maintaining your file system.

Creating a new filing system

  • Use subject categories. Think about what you need to file, do these items fall into categories/topics? These topics can be administration, accounting, clients etc. Set up a file for each category or topic. This file could be either a lever-arch folder on a shelf, or a manila folder in a file cabinet. Each business will likely have different categories or topics, but essentially, the file systems will be similar.

  • Use subject sub headings

    Do any of the major categories, have sub categories? For instance, if you are filing accounting paperwork, does this paperwork fall into accounts payable or receivable? Does it also relate to a specific supplier or client?

Creating an Accounting file with the category/topic of Accounts Payable, then a sub category of the supplier, may work for you. You may also file accounts payable in monthly files rather than supplier. If you were creating a file on your clients, for example, you would create a ‘client’ file with individual files for each of your clients within that file or filing cabinet.

  • Colour code your system.

    This is an easy and effective way to organise your files and can be done by using coloured files. Think about what sort of files you have – maybe you could have all client files one colour, and accounting files another. If you don’t have coloured files, you could use a coloured sticker on the top of the file next to the file name. This makes the files easy to identify.  I have used this system in previous jobs and it really does make it easier.

  • Label all files.

    Each file needs to be clearly labelled and belong in a particular place in your office. When labelling your files, put your label along the top of your file (if using a manila file), or on the spine of the lever-arch folder you are using.  If you are using a label maker or computer to print your labels, make sure you are consistent and use the same font and style. If you are writing by hand, write neatly and clearly – this will make your files easier to recognise and find.

  • Sort files alphabetically.

    It sounds obvious but filing alphabetically is the most effective way to file documents. When files are stored alphabetically, they are more organised, and you can generally find them quicker. Each file that is stored alphabetically then may have sub categories/topics within that file. Always ensure you file your individual piece of paper/document in the relevant sub categories/topic within the file it belongs in.

  • Ensure you have enough space.

    Paper/hard copy files grow quite quickly due to the amount of paperwork we need to store. When setting up your filing system, always ensure you have plenty of space. This might mean a separate file cabinet or cupboard for Client files, another for Accounting. Do what works for your business and the space you have available. Be mindful though that files here in Australia need to be kept for certain periods of time; most are 5-7 years for standard financial records. You therefore might need to go through your files yearly and ‘exit’ or ‘archive’ files that are not in use anymore and store them away for the required length of time. This is called archiving:

  • Financial documents need to be kept for up to 7 years
  • Client files need to be kept for up to 7 years
  • Files that a not financial or client based may only need to be kept for around 2 years

*please check with your regulatory body to see how long you need to keep your files.

How to maintain your filing system

  • Use a ‘file tray’. When you have actioned or finished with paperwork and you don’t have time to file it away immediately, place it in one central location. This will ensure that the paperwork is not lost and kept ready for you to place into the relevant file.

  • Set aside some time each day/week for you to file. If you schedule or plan to file at a certain time each day or week, this will become routine for you and you will more likely to do it regularly. This may be as simple as scheduling 30 mins each day during the ‘quiet’ time in the office, for example, after lunch or the last hour of the day. You can then focus on what you need to do and quickly do it. The more you stick to this schedule, the more consistent you will become, and you will find that you don’t have lots to file each day.

  • Make sure that others understand the file system. This was my biggest pet peeve when working in an office with lots of staff that shared the filing system. I would spend hours sorting and reorganising client files for ease of reference, and there was always one person who would just open a file draw and shove a file back in anywhere it would fit – this led to files being lost and caused lots of unnecessary stress. When you have set your file system up, go over how and why things are filed at a staff meeting to ensure all staff members understand and comply.

  • Have lockable file cabinets. All documents related to your business may have confidential information on them; this information could be client details, bank details etc. It is important to make sure that all your filing systems are lockable and are locked every day at business end.

  • Regularly review/archive your files. At least once a year, go through your files and remove all files that are no longer current. These files should still be kept but moved out of the main ‘everyday’ filing system to allow space for new and current files. All non-current files need to be stored in boxes that are clearly labelled and easy to access if you need them again, either in a storage room onsite, or off site. For example, you may have a client come back after a few years. You can then pull back their old file and have access to the work you did for them previously.

ELECTRONIC FILES

  • Create folders. Organising a system to file electronically is essentially the same as paper files, only you set it up on your laptop/computer. Think about what folders/categories you need and then create these folders on your laptop. Just like paper files, these categories will sometimes have sub categories relevant to the business you have.

Ensure you create your folders in the ‘file explorer’ or ‘file manager’ section of your laptop and save all relevant documents in their appropriate folder. Try not to get into the habit of saving everything to the desktop. This can look quite messy and unorganised and make things hard to find.

  • Password protect all laptops/computers. Just like normal hard copy filing cabinets need to be locked, all computers (and sometimes individual folders) need to be password protected and have the relevant virus protection. This has recently become a huge issue in the media, as some larger organisations have had their computer systems hacked. Another important thing to do is to make sure all staff log off and shut down their computer at the end of each day.

  • Regularly archive your files. As with hard copy files, you should go through your files and remove all files that are no longer current at least once a year. These files can be moved into a separate ‘archive’ folder on your device or on a separate portable hard drive. Once again, these files should be easily accessible if needed.

  • Back up your computer system. Unfortunately, sometimes things go wrong with computer systems. Therefore, backing up your system every night or at least once per week at the minimum is required. If something does go wrong, you may have only lost one day’s work, not everything that has been done electronically by your business.

If you need assistance with setting up your filing system, or just need some advice on how you should do it, please contact me for more information at rachel@secretarialonline.com.au

Please note that this blog post is the property of Secretarial Online, and cannot be used without the authority of Secretarial Online.

 

5 Top Tips to help your small business

5 Top Tips to help your small business

 

With taking the brave steps to be my own boss earlier this year, I am relatively new to running a business. To say it is easy, is really stretching the truth – its damn hard work.  I have faced lots of challenges over the past few months and I wouldn’t say it has gotten easier, I have just gotten a little bit better at dealing with it.

But through hard work and determination, I am edging closer each day to my goal of running a successful business.

These are 5 things that I have had to learn the hard way, hopefully by sharing with you all, they will help you to be successful in your small business.

My top 5 business tips are:

  • Have your contact details easy to find.  How can you obtain new business if your prospective clients cannot find you? Whether it be on your website, or social media platforms like facebook and Linked in, make sure that your phone number, website and email are easy to see.  If a prospective client easily finds your details, they will be more inclined to reach out to you.

 

  • Include an “About Me” section on your website and social media. A photo and a story about you will help prospective clients to understand who you are. this will  make them see you as a real person, not just someone unknown behind a screen. Having a photo and info about you helps to build a connection, even trust… clients know you are real and feel better about contacting you.

 

  • Network – put your self out there! Tell everyone and anyone all about your new business. Join local small business groups in your area where you can meet face to face with other like mined individuals. This is where you can share knowledge and advice. And yes it is ok to network with your competitors! Fostering these relationships can benefit you both, especially when you or they have a deadline and need assistance.  Online social media groups are great too – you can get a lot of support from online groups and forums.

 

  • Be organised. Set aside time each week to assess your job load. Schedule time to do accounts, social media posts, website updates, make sales calls etc. If you plan your week, you are more likely to meet every deadline without running around in a mad panic.  Its hard when there is so much to do, but when you break it down and schedule some time to do these each week, things will run much smoothly.

 

  •  Set Boundaries – I don’t know about you, but I have found myself checking emails whilst in bed late at night, or even on weekends, scared I might miss something. Well its ok not to check those emails outside your normal business hours, so when your in bed at 10pm and your phone buzzes, leave it – the email will be there in the morning. You don’t work 24/7 so when your business is closed, switch off – enjoy the down time with your family.

With these 5 small pieces of advice, your business will hopefully run smoother, be more productive and your client base will grow.  And remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day – it will happen with hard work, determination and a great attitude.

Stay tuned for an updates on how my business in is travelling.

Rachel, Secretarial Online.

Virtual Assistant – Why do I need one?

Are you struggling to keep up with your office admin?

At some stage, all businesses get to the point where they feel that they are “treading water” to stay afloat.  We ignore it, go into denial mode or even try to blame others –  we bury our heads in the sand.

We don’t want to think about why this has happened, maybe we are afraid to look deeper into the causes and make the changes necessary to make your business better.But sooner or later, we come to the realisation that we need to be responsible and accountable of our business and, despite the discomfort, know we need help.

Outsourcing to a Virtual Assistant (VA) can help take that pressure off and motivate you to get back in control of your business. You only pay for the hours that you use your VA- this could be as little as a few hours per week, what ever works best for your business needs.

VAs do many roles from reception and administration, through to media/marketing, accounts and much more.With some of these tasks delegated to your VA, you will then freed up to concentrate on growing your business through areas like marketing, sales, meetings etc.

VAs independent contractors, that have many years of experience, skills and knowledge – a valuable resource. Not all VA’s are off shore, there are many in here in Australia, like Secretarial Online, who not only understand the Australian language, but know how to relate to the Australian people.

Secretarial Online is proud to be an your local Penrith Virtual Assistant that provides administration support to businesses that need assistance in outsourcing their admin tasks.

If you need assistance with your admin, Secretarial Online can help.  Email me today on rachel@secretarialonline.com.au to organise a free initial consultation.

Rachel – Secretarial Online