Which century are you working in?

We seem to like reminiscing about the 'good old days' ... how it was when we were growing up.  Is it a sign of getting old?  I used to think that's what my parents and grand-parents did but how often do we see things on Facebook about how it was back in the 70's or 80's?

This video is a short but interesting look at how the office has evolved over the last 30 years ...

 



In this instance I think the evolution has been a good one.  

Working in the 21st century is so much more flexible than it was back in 'the good old days'.  

Personally, I wouldn't be doing what I do if it hadn't been for the evolution - Virtual Assistants couldn't work in the way we do now if we couldn't access most things via the internet - and I think that applies to many small businesses.

I was speaking to a client recently who said that as well as having never met me, he'd never met his accountant either. It is normal now that we work with people who are 'remote' from us and this also means, as remote workers, many of us have the option to work from where-ever we want.

It has long been my dream to be able to do more travelling in my motor-home so my business has been set up so that as well as not being totally reliant on me, the work I do can be done from anywhere.  So to test the theory, I'm spending a couple of weeks over the summer having a working holiday.  I will be visiting business friends that live at the other end of the country, I will be attending some 4Networking meetings on my travels and I will be doing my day-to-day work, as well as some sight-seeing and R&R.

This is only possible because of the evolution we've seen in the video.  My entire office is now on one small laptop, my broadband connection is in a dongle and my phone is in my pocket.

Some times it's the 'good new days'!

I'd love to hear about what flexible working means to you and how the office evolution has changed the way you work.  If you feel you're still working in the 19th or 20th Centuries and would like to have a chat about new ways of working in your office, click here to arrange a call.

 

video courtesy of: bestreviews.com/best-computer-desks#history-of-the-computer-desk
photography by dougthomsen.tv / engineering by anton georgiev 

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If you knew what your time was worth ...

Last week I mentioned 2 hurdles that people have when thinking about working with a VA, the first was knowing what work to give them, the second is the misconception that hiring a VA is expensive and it’s that which I want to talk about this week.

When you’re running a business, particularly in the early years, the focus is all about money – making it and saving it.  Small business owners have a tendency to think it’s cheaper to do everything themselves rather than paying someone else to do it – they’re ‘saving’ money.  Then they hit a major barrier … THEY RUN OUT OF TIME … they can’t fit everything in any more.

 

“How did it get so late so soon?  It’s night before it’s afternoon.  December is here before it’s June.  My goodness how the time has flewn.  How did it get so late so soon?” 

Dr Seuss

The key thing many business owners fail to realise is that their time is not free! 

In a service industry nation many small business owners are basically selling time.  The skill-set may vary: designers, VAs, consultants, etc, but the product is time.  This makes it really easy to see what the value of your time is … how much is someone else paying you for it?

Even if you’re selling a physical product, as a business owner your time should be spent on the things that will grow the business and therefore the value of it is high.  Work out how much you would have to pay someone to do the job of managing and building a business and that gives you an idea of the value of your time.

It is usually the delivery of the service (in a service industry) and the growth and marketing strategy of the business that are key, high value areas that the business owner should focus their time and efforts on in order to move the business forward.

In no way do I want to demean the value of the other work that goes on in a business.  To the contrary, I have long understood the value that an administrative professional adds to the bigger picture – they carry out key tasks that keep a business running smoothly.  However, work that isn’t in the front line of activities bringing in more business are a support function and have traditionally attracted a lower monetary value in order to get them done. 

It makes sense then that someone who can earn a high value for their time (either through service delivery or through the driving of business growth) should not be spending it doing lower value tasks.

To help you start to think about the value of your time in a general way you might want to watch a couple of videos we have found helpful. Visit www.theofficefixer.org.uk/resources where we have posted them for you.

Also, here’s a calculation that might help you see the figures more clearly (based on a VA rate of £30/hr & your hourly rate of £75 – amend as appropriate):

 

You do your own admin

5 hrs of admin completed =                 £0.00

5 hrs of chargeable time lost =          - £375

PROFIT =                                       - £375

 

You outsource your admin

5 hours of admin paid for =                £150

5 hours of work invoiced =                 £375

PROFIT =                                         £225

 

 

 

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The Virtual Assistant is very much a 21st Century business tool

When I started my VA business in 2006 Virtual Assistants hadn't really been heard of in the UK, let alone understood in terms of how they could benefit a business.  10 years on there's probably a VA in nearly every networking event you go to, but I'd still argue that most small business owners don't really understand how they can use one to help their business.

I think there are 2 main hurdles for most business owners to get over in their thinking about VAs:

1.       lack of understanding about what a VA can do to help in the business

2.       the cost of having a VA

We'll look at the cost issue next week, but to start with let's understand what sort of tasks a VA could help you with. 

When I meet with prospective clients they nearly all ask what can I help them with?  I can list 101 tasks that my team can carry out for them but 100 of them might be irrelevant to them and I may have missed the 3 things they really want to delegate. 

Every business is individual and every business owner’s needs are individual, so it’s much better that I ask how can we help them?  And these are the 3 questions I ask:

1.       What tasks need doing for the business to grow / be successful / maintain standards but you hate doing (and so in reality probably aren't doing because you're busy procrastinating over them and consequently putting the business in jeopardy)?

 

2.       What tasks need doing for the business to grow / be successful / maintain standards but you aren’t good at (you’ve probably learnt how to do them to a degree but in reality they aren’t being done as well as they could be and consequently are putting the business in jeopardy)?

 

3.       What tasks need doing for the business to grow / be successful / maintain standards but they could be done by someone else to leave you, the business owner, free to do other tasks that you should be doing?

Your answers to these questions are a good place to start a conversation with a VA.  VAs have lots of different skills and so it’s important to know what you want help with and you find the right VA to support you and your business, rather than find a VA and take the support they can offer.

 

If you want a kick-start on the ideas front download our list of 32 things you could outsource but don’t forget, these are just generic ideas, some of which will be relevant to you, some of which won’t and some of things you need support with won’t be included but that doesn’t mean to say no-one can help you with them, you just need to ask!

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