Refocus your business

How to get refocused in the New Year

Welcome, 2021! Thank God you’re here! Even though things won’t change overnight, there’s a mindset that 2020 just needs to be gone! Done! Buh-bye!

With the coming of a new year, it’s a great time to get refocused in all areas of your life. But for the sake of this article, I want to talk about your small business.

What does it mean to refocus

Do you know what it means to refocus? In terms of business, it could mean adjusting your vision. Or maybe reallocating resources.

But how exactly do you do that?

2 easy steps to help you get refocused

You have to start with your vision. What, historically, has been the vision of your business? For some, this will be easy to answer. For others, not so much. But don’t worry, we’ll get there!

1. What is your vision?

Ask yourself these questions:

Why did you start your business?

Who do you want to service/help?

Let’s look at my business as an example.

Why did I start my business?

I started my business so I could be home with my kids but still use skills that I’ve learned over the years. As a Virtual Assistant, I want to help small business owners who need support but don’t need a full-time employee.

Who do I want to service?

I want to provide services to small business owners.

More specifically, through my articles and products – I want to help NEW freelancers who have questions and don’t have time to take all of the courses or read all of the books.

I want my articles to be short, easy to read, and include just a few actionable items so that someone new can use the information NOW.

Why? Because I’ve purchased and taken soooo many courses and I feel like I could’ve gotten the info in so many fewer words! Lol, but I totally get it – I mean, they needed there to be more content to sell it, right?🤷‍♀️

Now, looking back, my vision hasn’t always been this clear. As I’ve written more articles, it’s really hit me that I think I can help new freelancers.

So that’s my new vision. This will help me stay focused when I’m thinking about what I need to do on a daily basis.

2. Reallocate resources

When we say resources, we could be talking about money or time. Ooooh, tricky! Yes, time is one of our most valuable resources!

Are you spending your time wisely? Based on your vision, should you adjust the use of your time?

I’m not adjusting my time spending habits, per se, but I did come up with a daily and weekly checklist system to keep me on track. So many times I feel like I get to the end of the day and I haven’t done something I’m supposed to do.

It seems so simple! Like, duh! But sometimes we overlook the easiest things.

Refocus and Grow Your Small Business

Now you do it!

  1. What’s your vision for your business? Are you happy with it?
  2. Do you need to adjust your time? Could you make a short checklist of daily and weekly tasks to keep you on track?

 

I hope you found this to be helpful! Next week, I’ll be looking more closely at mindset.

While you’re thinking about refocusing, are you happy with your branding? Does it tell people who you are? Are you happy with the image that you portray?

If you haven’t looked at it already, please check out my Branding Template! We have a new template in the works – a daily and weekly task list to help keep you focused!

My Branding Template and Asset Pack is a collection of my best resources to help you with your small business! Is there something you need? I’d love to hear about it!

Branding

BRANDING YOUR BUSINESS

The branding you choose for your business is the distinctive design that you use across all marketing channels. It’s how people recognize you!

In this article, I’m going to show you some resources to help you create your brand from scratch, or to rebrand.

Why create a brand

You choose a brand because you want to be consistent. Brand recognition is when people recognize the product or service because of the brand.

If you’re just getting started,  you might not have any idea what you want for branding. Don’t let this hold you back from moving forward in your business!

Rebranding

We’re approaching the new year, so I’m looking at re-branding my business. My business isn’t just me anymore and I want to consider a fresh brand for my virtual assistant business.

Actually, I just recently worked on defining my brand for my side gig – a direct sales company. As I worked on it, I created a template which you can get here.

TIPS FOR BRANDING YOUR VIRTUAL ASSISTANT BUSINESS

YVA Branding Template

In this template, I walk you through how to pick the vibe, name, colors you like, and potential icons. In this case, I was trying to choose a name for my direct sales team.

But you can totally apply this to any small business! I have a pretty good idea of what I like for my virtual assistant business (Your Virtual Associate, or YVA for short) but I will fill out the template and show you a couple of examples.

Branding Template Examples

First, you see the completed template for my direct sales team. I haven’t chosen a team name yet, so you’ll see in the logo ideas that the text still says “team name.”

Branding my Thirty-One direct sales team

Next, you’ll see my Branding Template filled in with my goals and ideas for Your Virtual Associate. As you will notice, I added an extra color dot. I couldn’t decide so I just added in another space and grabbed colors from the images I used.

Your Virtual Associate re-branding worksheet

When you purchase my Branding Template, you’ll receive instructions to walk you through the whole process!

Free Logo Design

Free Logo Design allows you to, fairly quickly, design a logo and download a low-resolution copy for free! I made a logo that I like and then I popped it into my template.

The logo I designed is in my template above, in the “biz logo ideas,” the first and last images. I downloaded the first one which I received by email. Then I edited it and promptly downloaded the new version without the text.

While we’re looking at the template I created, notice that the first image in the “images that inspire” section is the banner image on my website. I chose the other images searching in Canva for “work from home” and “home office”.

I think I chose the last image because of how clean it looks! Haha! Seriously, choose something that inspires you – either your current environment or the environment you aspire to!

Looka

Looka is another free logo creator.  It’s not free to download though. But you can get a ton of digital materials starting at around $60.

I’ve enjoyed playing with this tool, but I just happen to be happier with what I created in Free Logo Design. Hey, it’s always nice to save a few $$$!

What do you think

YVA re-branding options

What do you like for YVA? I’d love to hear your thoughts! I’m thinking Color group 2, B, and X. What do you think? When I decide on A vs B, I’ll probably go back and spend $39 to get the high-resolution copies. But in the meantime, I’m pretty happy with free!

Thanks for reading! If you haven’t joined my mailing list, please do! I send out weekly business tips geared towards small business owners!

And remember to grab the YVA Branding Template so you can hash out your own ideas!

 

 

 

Should I start freelancing during the pandemic?

Should I Start Freelancing During the Pandemic

So you’re thinking about freelancing? In the midst of a pandemic, I’m not surprised! There are many reasons that people turn to freelancing. The short answer (TLDR): yes!

Now I’ll explain.

But first, what is freelancing?

What is freelancing?

Freelancing is a non-traditional means of making money. It is non-traditional in the sense that it is not the typical means of employment. Freelancers are independent contractors. They are responsible for their own income reporting and taxes.

Why do people want to freelance?

So why would someone want to freelance? When you’re a freelancer, you’re your own boss. Who wouldn’t like that? Some people don’t work well without a boss telling them what to do. But if you’re a self-starter and don’t need someone micro-managing you, telling you when and how to do your job, then freelancing could be for you!

Freelancers set their own hours. They work from their own home office (or kitchen table). They can take time off as needed and don’t usually have to let anyone know about it.

Freelancers, like myself, are home and available to get the kids online for eLearning. I make sure my 4-year-old is paying attention to his teacher. When he’s done, I hop back online to work for my clients.

If you’re not convinced yet, here are some other pretty interesting statistics that might perk up your ears. According to this article on Websitebuilder.org, 25% of freelancers can find work within 1 day if needed. And in 2019, freelancing contributed $1 trillion to the US economy. WOW!

Why start now?

Should you start freelancing now, during the pandemic? Sure! It’s a sad fact that you may have to try. But let me tell you why that’s OK.

According to Market Watch, more than 22 million people lost their jobs in the first half of the year due to the Covid-19 pandemic that emerged in the US in March of 2020. I’m sorry if you or someone close to you is one of those statistics.

But it’s time to look forward! So…

How to Start a Freelance Gig

 

How do you break into freelancing?

I think one of the hardest things about losing your job or getting into freelancing is explaining why you’ve come to the decision to start freelancing.

If you’re used to working in an office, you don’t realize how mainstream freelancing is in some circles. But I can see how someone might not want to tell their friends and former co-workers that they are now freelancing. It just sounds strange. Or does it?

Change your mindset. Now.

Say this out loud and take ownership of it: I decided to start (fill in the blank with your job or skill) as an independent contractor instead of an employee because (fill in the blank with your key reason for working for yourself).

Here’s what I would say: I decided to start doing marketing consulting as an independent contractor so I can be home and available for my kids when they’re little.

Now, you may have lost your job because of the pandemic and if you’re comfortable saying that, then by all means say that! But if you’re feeling down about it, like you didn’t have a choice, put a spin on it.

Find the reasons that freelancing is an advantage for you and say that you made this decision just in time. Or it was serendipity that you can now be a freelancer instead of an employee.

Say, “I had been thinking about going out on my own for some time. Now it’s a blessing to be home with my kids while they’re eLearning.”

I’m going out on my own

Undoubtedly, you’ve heard someone say, I’m going out on my own. 

Anyone who says that is a freelancer! They may not consider themself a freelancer, but it’s essentially the same thing! They are an independent contractor.

True, that person going out on their own may eventually incorporate their business. But the beginning of the process is very similar.

If you’re not comfortable with the term freelancer, you can say it this way.

Examples of jobs you can do freelance

Let’s look at what you can do. Freelancers take a skill that they have and offer it “on the side”. If you find yourself without a job, you can take something that you did for your employer and offer it on a contractual basis to someone else similar to your former employer.

The examples are going to be endless, but I’ll start a list.

  • Bookkeeper
  • Content creator
  • Secretary
  • Scheduler
  • Calendar management
  • Appointment setter
  • Customer service
  • Designer
  • Developer
  • Programmer

I think you get the idea. Horkey Handbook has published a very long list to give you some ideas of things you can do as a virtual assistant. A virtual assistant is basically a freelancer.

How do you start getting jobs?

When you get in the groove and get comfortable with your new role as a freelancer, you’ll see opportunities. You’ll be prepared to talk about it – what you could do to solve someone’s problem. Or better yet, what you can do to increase their revenue.

But what about now? There are several job boards for freelancers. One that I’ve used with success is called Upwork. I don’t use it regularly now, but I probably have looked at it in the last year just to see what people are looking for.

If I suddenly lost all of my clients, I would look there to see if anything caught my attention. According to that article on Websitebuilder.org, freelancers earn over a billion dollars yearly on Upwork.

What’s next?

Well, I guess it depends on if you’re out of a job or if you’re just thinking about your options.

If you’re out of work, I would get signed up with Upwork immediately and start making offers! The site is pretty self-explanatory. Fill out everything as completely as possible. And start pitching!

If you’re looking at options for stay at homework, or to replace your day job, check out this list of services you can provide. You can get it in exchange for your email address. It’s totally worth it!

Intro to Client Portal

Here's why freelancers should use client portal

I want to share a quick introduction to Client Portal. Have you heard of it? It’s a WordPress Plugin that was created by my client (there’s the first half of my disclosure;-)) Laura Elizabeth. You see, I’m a virtual assistant and Laura is my client!

So not only am I using it, but I’m working on the back side of it. I have quite a grasp of how it can be used by all different types of businesses. But since Laura created it for herself to use with her design clients, she has a very large design audience. What I want to focus on is how freelancers such as myself, can make use of Client Portal.

Top 3 reasons Freelancers should use Client Portal

  1. Professionalism
  2. Organization
  3. Convenience

1 – Professionalism

Think to yourself – what does my business process look like to an outsider? That outsider being a new potential client. What do they see? Do you give them a contract? Are your invoices and documents neatly organized? Now think about what your competition is doing.

Impress clients with your organization!

What if you present a portal as soon as you get off the phone with a potential client? Just a follow-up – “thank you for your time” message.

Hey, Potential Client ABC, I set you up in my system just in case we decide to work together. When you get inside my client portal, you’ll see our preliminary discussion, which you are free to add comments to if you feel I didn’t understand something exactly as you intended. You’ll see some grayed out sections which will become active if and when we start working together.

This shows Potential Client ABC that you are a professional, serious about your intentions to work with them, and organized!

2 – Organization

Client Portal will allow you to organize all of the documents that you use for your clients. I am a fan of both Dropbox and Google Docs. But I find I’m using Google Docs more and more. So what I’m doing is linking my doc right into the portal.

I can work on the doc from my Google Suite. But anytime the client wants to look at it, all they need to do is log in to their Client Portal.

I also have a link to their invoices. I’m still using PayPal to create my invoices, just like I always have. But I’m adding the URL to my client’s project.

So again, I look incredibly organized and professional. AND my client only has to go ONE PLACE to see everything that I’m working on for them – it’s so convenient!

3 – Convenience

I have a small handful of clients right now. If you’re a freelancer, you likely have a small handful of clients too, or maybe more. I have them all lined up in my Client Portal dashboard in WordPress. As I work on things for my clients throughout the day, I can easily switch to their project if I need to make any changes, like adding a module to keep track of a new project they just assigned to me.

But for the most part, I’m just working along like usual. The difference is that everything I’m working on is linked to their project. So any time they want to see what is current, all they have to do is log in to their secure project (password protected and private to each of them individually) and they can see the current version of basically everything we’re working on together!

I’m receiving fewer emails because my clients know they only have to look one place to find what they’re looking for. It’s convenient for them and I spend less time out of my day looking for something I sent them two weeks ago!

Do you want a Client Portal Discount?

Lucky for you – I have one! Follow this link to see more details about Client Portal and to purchase your copy today! If you follow my link, I will get a little kick-back for telling you about it, but it doesn’t change your price (and there’s the second half of my disclosure). If you’re gonna try it anyway, please help out a fellow freelancer and use my code!

When you get there, use discount code CARRIESdiscount to receive 10% off!

If you have any questions about Client Portal, you’re welcome to email me at carrie@yourvirtualassociate.com. Or you can send your questions straight to support@lauraelizabeth.co. Maybe I’ll still be answering your questions!