Outsourcing and hiring a virtual assistant (VA) can help improve your business especially if you know how to build a productive and effective relationship with your VA. And following are ways on how to do just that:
1. Start with the right mindset: outsourcing is not your quick road to success. Nope, there’s nothing about outsourcing that says you’ll be successful in an instant without doing a thing. Although it can help you focus on the core area of your business, you will still need to spend some time to train your virtual assistant (VA), orient him or her about your organization and your goals and then evaluate his/her performance every now and then.
2. Don’t assume. Don’t expect or assume that your VA can know everything in just one go. Give him/her a few days to familiarize with the tasks and find his/her best pace. We’re not talking about a VA here that you hire in an hourly basis, that’s a totally different thing.
As already mentioned in #1, you should invest time in developing and training your virtual assistant to a level where he/she can work unassisted and to a level where you are satisfied with his/her work.
3. Don’t be a vulture virtual boss. You know, don’t micromanage. This is why training virtual assistants is important so that you know your VA is capable of accomplishing the tasks without you having to look over their shoulders every minute or so.
4. Always be clear with your instructions. If you want tasks to be done quickly and correctly, spend some time giving detailed instructions. Instructions written haphazardly will only cost you more time as your VA may end up asking you more questions or misinterpreting your instructions.
5. Always be realistic with your deadlines. Set timelines that are both measurable and realistic.
6. Praise your VA for a job well done. Praising your VA for an exemplary work will make them feel accomplished and motivate them to do even better. This is very important if you want to have a long-term relationship with your virtual assistant.
7. Always pay your virtual assistant on time. Of course, this goes without saying. Paying your VA will help them stay focused on their work instead of having to worry about the bills they have to pay. This is also important in the overall growth of your relationship.
Over to you..
Do you have a virtual assistant working with you? What are the things you do to ensure that your relationship is a healthy and productive one? Please share your thoughts and comments below.
StumbleUpon is a social media site that can give you an insanely massive traffic boost. However, there’s a catch here: most of the traffic is not highly targeted, meaning, visitors don’t stay long on your site, which means that your bounce rate will shoot up, too!
So it’s basically a love-hate relationship. High traffic, high bounce rate. However, you’ll be one step behind your competitors if you don’t have a StumbleUpon account because leveraging even a small amount of the huge traffic it sends your site can have a positive effect on your business.
So here’s how you can make sure that you get high-quality traffic from StumbleUpon:
1. Stumble, stumble, and stumble some more. If you want to get your own content in front of your target audience, then you need to pay your dues first – become a part of the community. Stumble and vote on pages that are related to your content.
You won’t be able to maximize StumbleUpon if you don’t become a stumbler yourself. The more you use the service the more the StumbleUpon algorithm knows about your interests, and your stumbling and voting patterns. This well get the pages you stumbled and voted, and eventually including your own contents, in front of users interested in your niche.
2. Follow like-minded users. The StumbleUpon system notice your stumbling behavior and uses this categorize users. If you are blogger you may notice that you may not have a lot in common with other bloggers, but after some stumbling on your part you’ll start to be followed and discovered not just by blogger but by bloggers in your particular niche (e.g, travel blogger, food blogger, technical blogger, etc).
In other words, you start getting attention with targeted stumblers. Once you know who they are, start following them. The more you follow like-minded users, the more you’ll get discovered by other like-minded users.
3. Share other web pages. StumbleUpon is not a big fan of self-promoting users. ProBlogger was one of the many sites that were banned by StumbleUpon due to exclusively submitting their OWN contents only (although ProBlogger was allowed back in after a hug uproar from its loyal followers). You must share other interesting web pages and not just yours.
4. Create optimized and clean web pages. If you want the StumbleUpon community to get hooked on the contents you share, make sure that you’re creating visually appealing contents. The pages you submit must also be high-quality.
5. Try out the Paid Discovery. If you want to see quick results and you have the budget, try using StumbleUpon’s Paid Discovery. Unlike Facebook Ads, paid Discovery will send traffic directly to your site and not just display it on Newsfeeds hoping people will see them.
A good way to make sure that you’re maximizing your StumbleUpon campaign or any social media campaign is to do some testing and research. Find out what’s hot and working on that particular platform. It makes sense, because once you find out what people like, give them more of it. Simple as that.
Ever heard of the term “elevator pitch”?
Say you get in on an elevator and a potential client asks: “What do you do?” You have at least 30-40 seconds to give that potential client the sales pitch of your life before he/she gets off on the next floor. That, right there, is your elevator pitch - a short speech summarizing who you are, what you do and why your listeners should care.
Sounds fairly simple, right? Nope. If you look at it, you’re basically condensing years of business experience and products into a few IMPACTFUL sentences. Your speech should not only be short, it should be able to answer all the major questions – the what, who and why - and be punchy without being too aggressive.
Following are tips on how you can develop a killer elevator pitch:
Start off strong.
Eighty percent of your pitch’s success will depend on how you craft your opening line. This could be a question or a statement that’ll entice them to listen to you for the full 45 seconds. Remember, you don’t have to tell your entire story in an elevator pitch. You’re halfway to success if you’re able to capture their attention and get them want to know more.
One of the common mistakes of entrepreneurs when answering the BIG question “What do you do?” is giving a vague answer. Don’t start at the macro level and give answers like “I work in the social media industry” or “I’m a social media consultant”.
Instead of giving vague answers, try focusing on the problems you solve: “I basically help people who are struggling to [talk about the problems you solve] and I help them by [talk about how you help them]”. By talking about how your business helps people, you become instantly relatable. Once they’re able to relate, you got them hooked.
Be simple and clear.
The last thing you want when delivering your elevator pitch is to confuse your listeners. Once they get confused, you’ve lost them. Even the most technical and most complex business topics should be broken down to grade-5-level English. Ever read Ernest Hemingway’s books? Notice how simple and clear his sentences are? Your pitch should be like that.
End with a call to action.
Remember, your elevator pitch is simply part of a marketing process offering an impactful summary of your business to get prospects interested, not a sale that you need to close.
Just like any form of marketing, you should end you elevator pitch with a subtle yet compelling call to action. One way to do this is to encourage them to contact you by giving them your business card. You can also book an appointment right there and then if they’re up to it.
Practice, practice, practice.
If you want to convince your listeners, you have to sound confident. Don’t mumble through your speech and never sound as if you are apologizing. The best way for you to be confident is to practice your pitch over and over again. Record it and then listen to it. You can also test deliver it in front of friends or family members.
Every business needs new customers in order to grow, but don’t ever forget that your easiest source of new revenue are still people who already know your company – your existing customers. Here are some tips on how you can effectively market additional services and master the art of upselling.
1. Talk with your customers. If you have a sales team, have them engaged the customers by chatting them up instead of just reading scripts. Talking to customers is an opportunity to help you learn what they are interested in or whether they are encountering an issue your product or service can solve. This will help you turn a single sale into a much bigger one.
2. Strike when the iron is hot. Understanding the sales cycle is very essential when upselling. This means that you should know the best time to market additional services. In most cases, it is when they have already agreed to buy your primary offer. The customer’s already in the mood to buy so they are more likely to buy additional offers you upsell. As mentioned above, chatting the customers up will help with the upselling.
3. Offer complementary products or services. Don’t upsell bikes when your customers are buying grapes. To ensure success, only upsell products that are related to the primary product that the customer purchased. Say, if your client sign up for a 30-minute social media consultation, you can offer him or her your InstaVIP social media package. If they’re buying printers, they’re more likely want to buy ink.
4. Offer customers a range of options. Provide a range of upsale options to cater to the different needs and capabilities of your customers. You may have customers who can’t afford your VIP social media package so offer them a much affordable option like access to your private group.
5. Explain the benefits. When upselling to customers make sure that you’re not selling the product but the benefits of the products. This is to show them that their purchase will be worthwhile and can actually fill a need.
Even your most loyal customers may not be aware of all the products and services you offer, you need to remind them every now and then about your offerings. You can send an email blast to announce the launching of your new products, announce it on your website or upsell to them when they call you to buy something.
If feel like you're always overworked, overwhelmed and overloaded, you’re on your way to burning yourself out. And burnout is something every entrepreneur should avoid. Following are tips on how to help you always feel productive without feeling burnt out.
1. Rest every once in a while. What do you do when you have nothing more to do? You rest. Some entrepreneurs I know feel anxious when they have some free time on their hands. They feel that they must be doing something so they pace the floor, rack their brains out and tinker with whatever they get their hands on.
Avoid the ‘superwoman complex’ – wanting to do everything, every time, on your own. You are most effective and more productive when you’re well-rested, sometimes it is alright to just breathe.
2. Streamline your daily routine by getting rid of things that distract you. I don’t know about you but I don’t watch TV when I’m working. Why? Because it destroys my productivity. So does social media. And by social media I mean tweeting and status updating things that are NOT really work-related. Browsing newsfeeds to see what your friends are up to should be off limits until after work hours.
3. Use hard stops and deadlines. Do you know why everyone in the business world put deadlines on almost everything? Because deadlines and hard stops force disciplines. Use them.
Say, if you’re scheduled to do paperwork today, make sure that you tell yourself to put a hard stop on it by 3pm. So by 3pm you should stop doing the paperwork, no matter what, so that you can work on something else.
4. Prioritize your health. Health will not cost you your job or business. But sickness will. If you are sick, you’ll never be productive and you’ll never be able to run your business well.
So don’t skip meals just because you’ve got a lot of paperwork to do. Again, learn to put a hard stop on things. Also, don’t forget to take breaks and have some healthy snacks.
5. Do more by prioritizing. Create your to-do list and prioritize items on them according to importance. List A should include time-critical tasks, list B should include important but not-so urgent tasks, and list C, everything else.
Do not try to do everything at once. Cross off the tasks on list A first before you start working on list B. And don’t pick a task on list C until everything on B has been worked on.
6. Get in and start early. A quiet empty work environment means less distractions. So get to work early before everyone gets in or gets up, if you work out of a home office. Coworkers or team-members are one of the major distractions and can really put a damper on your daily routine and, ultimately, your daily productivity. So getting a head start while the room is still not too crowded will help a lot.
Try any of these 6 tips and come back to share how your productivity has increased by implementing either one or all six of these tips in our comments section below.
Names are powerful, they’re the headlines of your business.
Say you have a small decent hotel and you name it “The Melbourne Motel”. Don’t be too surprise if your business only attracts budget travelers. The word “motel” is perceived by most customers as cheaper and lower in quality than the word “hotel”. A better name choice here would be “The Melbourne – Boutique Hotel”.
Here are some things to consider when naming your startup:
Choose a descriptive name. List the keywords that can best describe your products or services and then come up with a business name that contains that word. Example, if you have a business consultation service for startups, you can have keywords like “startup” “income” “revenue” “business”, etc.
With your initial keywords you could come up with business names like “StartupInc” “StartupLabs” or “StartupBiz”. You can also pick adjective that would go nicely with your keywords so that you can come up with names like “SmartBiz”. The more keywords you have, the more combinations you can generate.
The name should sound good when said aloud. People should be able to say the name clearly –whether on radio, television or normal conversation – without buckling up.
Avoid Web 2.0 names. Flickr, Tumblr and some other name Web-2.0-y businesses got away with it. But this fad was so yesterday. Customers should be able to remember, spell or lookup the name with ease.
You don’t want to confuse even a single customer when it comes to your business name. If you name your business “Startup4U”, you’ll soon get “Is that spelled FOR or just the number 4?” “Is it YOU or U?”
Never forget to test.
Now that you’ve got a name that you feel would click, it’s time to give it a test. You can start by telling your family, friends and colleagues about it and start taking note of their reaction. And if you want a more solid result, you can do A/B testing through Google adwords.
Say you have two name options StartupInc and StartupBiz. If you want to know which one will work best, create an identical landing for each of them. The landing page should be the same except for the name of the business. Run a Google adwords campaign for each to see which of the two names attract the most traffic.
Remember that you’re not just naming your startup; you’re naming your brand. Spend time brainstorming because if you pick the right name, it can become a major sales multiplier for your business.
Your headline is a key element in determining whether your content will be read or not, so it’s very important that you spend time crafting a great headline.
So how do you make your headline compelling? What makes a great headline great?
First, make sure that you get your message across in your headline – it may be the only thing your readers read. Second, use a double-whammy headline.
What’s a double-whammy headline?
It’s your regular compelling headline with a little extra on the side. See the headline of this blog post? That’s a double-whammy headline. A headline with a sidekick.
Here are some more examples:
5 “Five-Minute or Less” Blogging Tips That Yield Big Results. I’m Using Tip #1 in This Title.
Love Letter Discovered on a 500-Year-Old Mummy. What It Says Left Me Absolutely Speechless.
Why Small Businesses Don’t Grow—And How To Use Autoresponders To Increase Business By 27% Every Year
How to Tell if You’re Entpreneur Material. Or Not.
Each of the first half of the sample headlines is already a good headline that can stand all by itself without the add-on. It could still rock the show without having its sidekick, but it sounds much better and it is more compelling with the add-on, which is the goal of the double-whammy headline.
Don’t overdo it..
Of course, you don’t want to use your raincoat even on a sunny day. Point is, you don’t have to use double-whammy headline on every single blog post that you create. Compelling headlines like the ones below still works without their sidekick.
“How to Create Powerful Headlines and Increase Your Click-Through Rate”
“Why You Should Avoid Facebook Fake Likes Like a Plague”
What We Can Learn From Google & Coca-Cola About Creating Great Marketing Contents”
“Why Your Content Marketing Never Works Out The Way You Planned”.
Mix regular compelling headlines and double-whammy headlines on your blog posts so that you get the impact you’re looking for.
What’s worse than a bad headline? Bad content. Make sure that you do not under-deliver. Many content marketing campaigns fail not because their headline fall short, but because the content did. Using great headlines to sugarcoat low quality posts can do you more harm than good. You may be able to bait readers to click, but once they find out your content’ is not that great, they get disappointed.
Great headlines alone can’t make a content go viral, but great headlines with great content can
In business, rejection is just as real as success. It may be one of the major causes of startup failures. Although there are some entrepreneurs out there who have mastered the art of coping with rejection, many still dread it. But if you want to really make it big in business, you have to learn how to make the most out of every “No”.
Below are tips on how to constructively handle rejection:
1. Be rational rather than personal. Don’t take rejections personally – it’s part of the game and it’s nothing personal about you. Avoid blaming yourself when some transactions or business pitch don’t pan out. Instead, use your experience to find out areas which you can improve on. Every rejection is a new opportunity to improve your sales approach, your business pitch or your overall business strategy.
2. Know your sales ratio. When you’re in the business of selling something, rejection is unavoidable. But if you know how much sales to expect in a given period of time, you will not be as discouraged. It takes some businesses 30 calls before they can close a single sale, while it may take you more calls to do that.
Remember also that sales ratio may vary depending on different factors like whether you’re selling seasonal products or providing specialized service. Knowing your sales ratio will help give you an idea whether the number of rejections you’re getting are still on the “normal” level.
3. Never burn bridges. Just because a potential customer or client says NO for the first time doesn’t mean she (he) will never buy your products or utilize your service. Sometimes customers don’t buy from you because they’re not yet ready to buy. So instead of feeling sore about the rejection, you should establish your relationship with them.
Offer them something of value in the form of newsletters or downloadable eBook and then do a follow-up after a period of time (depending on your sales cycle). Build a relationship so that you become the first company that comes in mind when they’re finally ready to buy.
4. Sometimes you just need to push a little harder. When people get in front of them (or on the phone with them) to pitch something, customers often say no as an automatic reaction. You just have to break through that barrier and get them to listen to you. Keep a positive attitude and if you’re in front of a highly-qualified lead, sometimes not taking no for an answer can help you close a deal.
5. Keep track of both your rejections and accomplishments. Keep a record of your accomplishments, or the lack thereof. This will help you determine your current progress – where you are at and what you need to work on.
Over to you..
How about you? Ever experienced clients rejecting your services or not buying your products? How do you deal with them? What do you do to make sure that you can still make the best out of every NO that comes your way? Please share your thoughts and comments below, we’d love to hear them.
WordPress is an easy-to-install publishing platform with thousands of plugins and themes that can be used to customize the look and functionality of your website so that it’s uniquely yours. And the best part ? It’s free! That’s why it became the go-to website platform among online bloggers and business owners. In fact, 19% of the web runs on WordPress. And I know many of our readers have WordPress sites.
But all the free stuff does not come without risk. Here are some vulnerabilities your WordPress sites may be exposed to:
So if it poses major security risks, why do people keep on using it? Because with a few simple steps, you can secure your WordPress sites.
1. Don’t use one-click installers. You probably heard of a tool that lets you install WordPress in just a click of a button. Very tempting. But if you want a secure website, avoid one-click installers like a plague.
With one-click software, you can’t choose secure database details because these installers will do the job for you. Plus, they may install an outdated version of WordPress. Not to mention other ‘complimentary’ plugins and themes that you don’t really need.
Install your WordPress manually. Get your hands a little dirty. The instructions are simple and you’re good if you just follow them step by step.
2. Secure your password. Security and peace of mind can be achieved by just changing your password. Avoid using words on the dictionary or passwords like ‘buttercup123’. A secure password should:
3. Limit user roles and capabilities. WordPress is built so that you can grant access to a member of your team. However, access should only be limited to let a user do what he/she needs to do. Example, if you have a writer whose sole task is to add blog posts on the site, only grant him/her the “Author” access. This allows the Author to log in, add, edit and delete his/her own posts.
4. Avoid putting all your eggs in one basket. Meaning, if you have multiple sites, avoid putting them all in one cPanel or hosting account. If one site gets compromised, all your other sites will be easily accessible.
5. Only install plugins & themes from trusted sources. While most plugins and themes are safe, there are still some rotten apples out there, like this one. Wordpress.org is a very rich repository of safe-to-use plugins and themes.
6. Install security plugins. Plugins like WordFence and BetterWP Security exist to help website owners secure their WordPress sites. They prevent automated and forced login attempts, block IP addresses of known hackers, and perform other functions to keep your site safe.
7. Update and backup regularly. New versions of plugins and themes are released by developers to improve functionality or address issues that exist on the older version.
You should also make regular backups. If, despite all precautions taken, your site is still hacked, you’ll thank yourself for making a backup.
The word “perfect” is considered by many as something positive that we should all aspire to, believing it’s an asset. Well, here at MACS Women, we don’t agree.
What most people don’t realize is that striving for perfectionism actually causes mental blocks and breakdowns – exactly the opposite of what we are trying to achieve.
If you think about it, there isn’t any perfect woman entrepreneur out there. In fact, in the business industry even the most successful entrepreneur makes mistakes.
Following are tips on how you can curb your “perfect” syndrome:
1. Know the definition of perfectionism. Do you get obsessed with a report even after your client told you it was satisfactory? Do you stress too much even with the littlest of mistakes? Does the word ‘average’ makes you nervous?
Perfectionism is a belief that work of any type is unacceptable unless it’s perfect.
2. Know the cost of perfectionism. If you know that your ‘perfect’ syndrome is negatively affecting aspects of your life – health, relationships, peace of mind, career – it might help curb it.
At the same time, you must also determine the reason why you’re too eager to be perfect since this is what’s sucking you in. Most perfectionist people feel that they are in control when they do something they perceived as perfect.
3. Stop short of perfection when doing the task. One way you can correct your habit of being perfect is by stopping doing tasks when you feel they’re almost perfect. You can also deliberately mess up a small aspect of that task. If your report looks already perfect, put an out-of-place comma somewhere.
4. Know that perfectionism can lead to procrastination. Ironically, one of the many downside of perfectionism is procrastination. You don’t start working on a task unless you have the best solution, the complete resources, the right timing and the right context at hand.
By being a perfectionist, you set high expectations and over-complicate things to a point where you end up not doing the task because you think it’s impossible to achieve without all the resources you think you need.
5. Trust that others can do the job. Perfectionists often want to do everything themselves because they are not confident that anyone else can do the job right.
Delegate and let go. Have faith in the abilities of your teammates. If you see that they’re doing something wrong, show them how it should be done instead of taking over entirely. If you do everything yourself, you’ll limit your overall productivity as you fail to utilize other available resources - your teammates.
The pursuit for excellence should never be confused with perfectionism. The former is healthy for personal growth and career development, while the latter is a sure way to undermine your happiness and productivity.