When you’re building a business, there comes a day, maybe even a month where you’re at the breaking point. Your weekly to-do list for your clients and running the business exceed what you humanly could accomplish in two weeks working 24/7.
You find yourself always in catch up mode, stressed out and thinking, “is this what it really takes?”
We’ve all been there and as the CEO of your little empire, you’ve got options. You can cut back your client workload, you can drop activities, or you can get help. Before you bring up how “bad” you are at managing people and how no one possibly can do it as well as you do, please hear me out.
Those objections are ones I hear from nearly every business owner. The reality is that we’re afraid that getting help is going to create more work.
Enter cloning yourself. It may seem like something out of a sci fi movie, but you can clone yourself like a CEO and regain your sanity.
How to Clone Yourself
When your head is completely spinning and you’re pulling 12 or 16 hour days to try to stay above water, it’s hard to wrap your head around getting help. So the key is for you to start small.
Take five minutes and write out all the tasks that you don’t like doing in your business. Don’t prejudge, just write them out and see what comes up for you. Then look at those tasks and assign them a value in terms of how they help you generate revenue as low, medium or high.
Here’s an example of some tasks and how I’d rank them:
- Low: Scheduling blog posts, managing client intake paperwork
- Medium: Writing a blog post or email copy, setting up an email funnel, FB ads set up
- High: Working with 1:1 clients, new client consults, working with partners
To get started with cloning, look at the tasks in the low category. These are things you don’t enjoy doing and simply aren’t strategic for you to continue doing. Get really clear on this list and you’ll have what you need to figure out the right type of person to help you.
Tasks that generate little revenue are easily outsourced to a virtual assistant, ones with medium priority could be handed off to a online business manager, project manager, or a specialist in marketing, copywriting or technology areas.
Understanding what exactly you need to have someone handle for you is the best possible way to find the perfect for you clone. Avoid the temptation to hire someone out of desperation hoping they’ll be able to handle the tasks you need.
In addition to tasks, look at other key things you want in your clone. Consider things like time zones, availability, how much time you’ll need, personal attributes and more. From there, it’s time to seek out your clone. Start by working your professional networks, because I’m willing to bet one of your friends has a VA they adore who may be able to help. If you strike out there, look at services that can help you find a VA or sites like Odesk. It may take a bit of time, but hold out for the right fit within your budget.
I’ve Got a Clone. Now What?
The biggest mistake people make when it comes to cloning is once they’ve found the right match they fail to lay the groundwork. You can’t throw your clone into your business and expect them to be ready to roll in a matter of a few hours. You’ll need to invest some time and energy upfront to provide what they need to succeed.
What you do with your clone in the first 30 days will determine success or failure, so look at how you want to onboard them into your business. Provide them with not only the “how” of your business and what happens operationally but the big picture. Who are your clients? What do they need from you? What’s the bigger market context?
Helping them understand not only what you do, but how and why you do it, will help them make better decisions in the long run. You may even want to share your operating principles and your mission, vision and values if you have them.
With that foundation in place, you’ll need to create systems for each of the tasks they are going to handle. Love them, or hate them, you’re going to need systems. Look at systems for each task you want them to handle as an insurance policy that increases your odds of things going smoothly. Getting clear on what tools you use, who’s responsible for what and setting up a timeline saves a lot of back and forth later.
Once you get started with cloning, you’ll be on the lookout to create more clones so you can focus on what’s most important – running your business as the CEO.
Amber McCue is a systems and leadership expert and the CEO of NiceOps. She partners with the nicest, smartest CEOs around to help them step into leadership roles and build a strong CEO mindset.
When you are planning a romantic night with your beloved, it’s very likely that you will go the extra mile to set a proper mood. That might mean flickering candles, spicy incense, soft piano music, and a fabulous bottle of wine. (Think: Casablanca.) Hubba hubba, right?
But about your work life? What kind of mood are you creating in your office? Is it a gorgeous oasis? Is it functional? How does it make you feel?
In most cases, people rarely think about the mood they are setting at work. A desk piled to the ceiling with papers, a chair that aggravates your sciatica, and a constantly ringing phone are more draining than inspiring.
No wonder so many of us feel burned out and bummed out at the beginning and end of our work day!
When you take the time and care to create an inviting mood for your work, you are more likely to become a more creative, productive, and happier entrepreneur.
Getting your work mood right for success in business requires three things: external, internal, and ritual. Here’s how to get all three aligned for the best working conditions possible:
Create an environment that makes you happy to be there. Your workspace should be clean and orderly. Make sure you have a regular cleaning schedule to stay on top of this.
Pretty office supplies, a lovely scented candle, and a coffee mug that makes you smile keeps your environment cheery.
Invest in good furniture. Get a desk and chair that are ergonomically correct. This will save your back and wrists – plus help keep your energy up.
An organized calendar and to-do list helps you stay on track. Keep these in a place where you can easily see them.
Shut out distractions while you work. Turn off your cell phone notifications, shut down social media, and put some soft music on in the background. The less things competing for your attention, the more efficient and effective you’ll be.
At the end of each work day, tidy up your desk. This way, when you come to work the next day, you’re not walking into chaos.
If you come to work tired and cranky, your productivity will tank and your clients will feel unhappy too. A well-rested night allows you to be present without having to down tons of coffee. Make sure you are in bed at a reasonable hour every work night.
Positive affirmations help to foster a good work attitude. What is a positive affirmation? It’s a positively-worded statement that creates a desired change or mindset. For example, repeating something simple such as “I expect miracles” on a regular basis helps to get your mind programmed for success. A good practice is to find a few that you like and put them on sticky notes that you can post around your office. Seeing them often helps to reinforce that good energy.
Take some time off. This is essential for your creativity and peace of mind. Make at least one day a week a “no work” day.
Simple rituals to start and end your work day let you know when it’s time to get down to business and when it’s time to shut down the business for the day. Create little rituals that say “I’m ready to work” and “It’s time to close up.”
For example, you might want to close your office doors (important if you work at home), light a scented candle and put on some soft background music before you begin your day.
At the end of the day, check your calendar for the next day and write a to-do list. Tidy up your desk, blow out your candle, and turn your computer off. Find an activity to do that puts your mind “off work.” This could be a brisk walk around the block, a quick chat with your partner, or a curling up with a good magazine for a bit (my favorite thing to do is cook dinner). Above all, resist the urge to check your email or social media. When you are done, you are done for the day, period.
These simple, mindful strategies create a harmonious environment, inside and out. Make these practices a part of your daily routine and you’ll always be in the mood for work.
“If you’re not in the mood, you can’t do that stuff right.” ~ J.D. Salinger
Theresa Reed (aka The Tarot Lady) is an intuitive Tarot reader, teacher, mentor and yogi on a mission to take Tarot from hippie to hip. When she’s not reading tarot, she’s busy helping broke-ass mystics learn how to create sustainable + profitable businesses. If you are ready for straight talkin’ tarot and a side of biz whizz, get to her online hood: The Tarot Lady or follow her on Twitter @thetarotlady.
Finding time to run your business is no joke: the other day, I saw an ad on Facebook. It claimed to teach people how to find thousands of followers on social media. The picture they chose for the ad featured a mom on a computer. Her docile little toddler peacefully sat on her lap while she worked.
Um… “As if.”
How do I run a business with a nine-month-old? Very carefully. It requires some serious time hacking, and in this free audio training I share with you how I update multiple social media accounts at once–saving me tons of time while marketing my business.
By now, we all know that images help our readers connect with us, engage with our writing, and maintain interest sliiiiightly longer (which is so, so important as all our attention spans shrink to nearly-nothing).
But how, exactly, can you use images with social media?
I’m sure you’re embedding images directly into your Twitter stream (because it makes your tweets 94% more likely to get shared) but what else can you do?
Here are five ways for using images with social media that will lead to more comments, more followers, and (eventually) more clients and sales.
(For the sake of reference, here’s a great breakdown of the dimensions and sizing for images on every social media platform.)
1. Create images with clever, inspirational, re-tweetable quotes from your blog posts
Did you write something heart-shaking and wise? Of course you did! Don’t let that nugget of wisdom languish in the middle of an old blog post! Type out your wisdom atop a photo of a sunset/ocean/skyline, share it with your followers, and watch the ‘likes’ and retweets roll in.
2. Share before-and-afters
With the approval of your clients, share before-and-after photos. Did you declutter their closet? Stock their fridge with healthy meals? Help them lose 20 pounds? Boost their blog traffic by 200%? Tangible, recognizable results brings in new clients like nothing else. When readers see what you’ve done for other people, they’ll want some of that magic for themselves!
3. Share images of clients using your products
Did you just publish a book that your clients are reading on beaches and patios around the world? Did you create a plant-based menu that people are cooking up in their kitchens right now? Ask your followers to send photos of your work in action, then (with their permission, of course) share those images on social media. If you’re really clever, you’ll include a link to the sales page of said product!
4. Give your people a peek at your premium offerings + behind the scenes
Are you running a retreat for 15 very special clients? Make sure to document the goings-on and share them. Are you working on a new offering? Share a few screenshots of your process or a funny still from your new video series. It’ll create buzz and keep your audience interested.
5. Show that you walk the walk
So, so many of us know what we need to do to accomplish a given goal – we need to run every day, write our morning pages, pitch investors, meditate, journal – and we can even write helpful, tip-filled posts about how our readers and followers can accomplish their goals.
And then we fall off the wagon ourselves.
It’s important that your followers know (and see!) that you really, actually do the things you say everyone else should do. So show your people the space where you meditate, your feet atop the mountain you just climbed, or all the things crossed off your to-do list. We’re much more likely to know, like, and trust (and buy things from) people who are living their work.
Each of these suggestions takes less than five minutes and will lead to more shares and likes than a little ol’ text-based tweet or Facebook update. What are you waiting for?
Linda Laegreid Johannessen is the founder and CEO of YAY Images, a stock image agency that’s the Spotify version of affordable, licensed images. For just $9.90 a month, you have access to 5 million (!!!) images that are perfect for blog posts, newsletters, and social media. She’d love it if you took advantage of a free month of photos or followed along on Twitter.
Working with a Virtual Assistant (VA) can mean saving yourself from administrative headaches and freeing up your time to focus on important aspects of your business. Once you have found a VA that could be a good fit with your business, it’s still going to take some time to figure out each other’s working style.
Below are the five most essential tips when working with a Virtual Assistant so that your business runs as smoothly as possible.
1. Start with a trial period. Even if you think you have found the perfect VA, trial periods are so important for both of you. You learn their quality of communication, their grammar when writing, how often they check in with you based on projects, etc. I always offer a 30-day trial period before signing any client on to a contract, but some VA’s offer trial projects, etc. If you found a VA that does not want to consider a trial period, study the pros and cons before working with them. Do they have shorter length contracts or none at all? Are their prices more reasonable than others?
2. Write a list of all the tasks you want done and know how to do them yourself. I mentioned this in my last article, but I can’t stress enough how important the second part is. A Virtual Assistant is great at thinking up new ways of streamlining your business and making it more organized, but they need to understand the basics of what you want done thoroughly. There will be questions in the first few months and if you know the answers off the top of your head, it’s easier for the both of you. As you continue the relationship and both of you get more comfortable, suggest they create a manual of the administrative side of your business and openly share it via Dropbox or Google Drive. That way the information is always on hand and you both can refer to it when needed.
3. Communicate. Every VA has a different style of communication, but unless you have specifically hired a VA who offers phone services, most VA’s like to communicate via email. However, I believe that every working relationship should have check-ins via phone or Skype as well. It lets you hear their voice and confirm they are a real person, which gives this extra feeling of security within the relationship. Some people do not like Skype for various reasons, but at least insist on a phone meeting every once and a while. Make sure you have a list of things to talk about and if there are problems in their methods or an issue that did not work out the way you hoped, be sure to bring these up over the phone as well. Emails can be misinterpreted, whereas it’s easier over phone to clear any misunderstandings.
4. Be specific. This ties into my last point on communication, but due to the fact that you are working with someone outside of your office (and sometimes on the other side of the world!), you need to be able to clearly share what you are looking for with your assignments. Deadlines are also very important. Even if the project is due for you in a vague “few months”, be sure to convey with your VA that it is due by a certain date. This will help them manage their time better and won’t leave you stranded when you all of a sudden realize that your few months have gone by and you need the project done by tomorrow.
5. Review the VA’s work. In the beginning of the relationship, it’s crucial to review and confirm all of your VA’s work. Not only does this help you learn how they work, but it also helps the VA understand if they are on the right track. It’s very frustrating to be working with someone and be turning in results for a few months only to find out they would prefer the results in a Word document instead of an Excel spreadsheet. By reviewing what they do early in the game, it helps prevent problems, misunderstandings, and mistakes later down the road.
Working with a Virtual Assistant is an exciting step for your business and it shouldn’t be a headache. By keeping your work as organized as possible and making sure you communicate effectively, your relationship with your VA will create hours of free time so that you can focus on getting your business to thrive.
Kiri has been working in the administrative field since she was 15 years old. What started off as a part-time job after high school blossomed into a full-time business when she realized she loved supporting people but wanted more flexibility than corporate America provided. Currently a Virtual Assistant for almost four years, she is constantly striving to figure out ways to make other people’s lives easier. Kiri is a Mount Holyoke College graduate and currently lives outside of Boston, MA with her family. In her spare time she blogs about Star Wars, drinks tea, and eats olives.