It’s hard to believe that it has almost been a month since many of us met in Philly! It is definitely appropriate that this month we are talking about “working away from the office.” As Virtual Assistants, we have the advantage of being able to work from absolutely anywhere and although we were in Philly to learn, many of us took some time out to do a little work. This is definitely the beautiful thing about our business!
Our articles this month touch on the tools and resources that are available to both us, as Virtual Assistants, and to our clients. Utilizing these tools can allow you to create a business where you can truly work from absolutely anywhere in the world (even from next year’s Live Summit in Vegas!!).
Although this is the beautiful thing about our business, we would be remiss if we didn’t caution you that this can equally be seen as a curse as well. The key is to ensure that you schedule time for yourself; don’t allow you and your business to be caught in that trap that you can work from anywhere. Build vacation time and learning time into your business and plan in advance to finish as much work as possible (if not all) so that you can rest, relax, and rejuvenate! As much as we like to think otherwise, our clients can live without us for a few days.
Terry Green, President
Welcome to May... amazingly, spring has finally sprung in my neck of the woods. It's a little rainy today, but the sun has been shining and we've been enjoying the fresh air now that temps are milder and we can finally turn off the heat and open our windows!
This month's theme is "working away from the office," which is so very timely since so many of us are returning from the 12th Annual Live Summit; our trade association's annual conference. Whether the plan is to continue working as usual while away, working on a reduced basis, or just handling things that pop up and need immediate attention, the need to work while traveling away from the office impacts both Virtual Assistants and clients alike. However, today's explosion of technology has made it easier and easier to stay connected even when you're not in the comfort of your office. Of course, it's easier than ever to stay connected to your email with your Smartphone or tablet, but my three favorite "I-can't-do-without tech tools" are: Skype, Dropbox, and Basecamp! All three of these lovely tools are accessible on your laptop, your Smartphone, and tablet.
Here is what I love most about them:
Skype (free): The BEST messaging platform around. I can easily touch base with my clients and team members via text, voice or video chats. We can also share our computer screens and send files to each other.
Dropbox (free/paid): My absolute favorite file storage and file sharing platform. By storing all of my files in Dropbox, I can easily access anything I need from anywhere, no matter what device I am using. It's great for sharing folders and files with clients and team members too!
Basecamp (paid but very cost effective): The online project management system that keeps me sane and my business running smoothly whether I'm in the office or off playing... er, attending a conference in Philly. ;) Even if I'm not doing any work myself, I can keep up to date with everything going on between clients and team members.
With more and more business owners taking to the road, it can become increasingly difficult to stay in communication and keep our businesses running smoothly without the proper tools in our business toolboxes, which is why I love these three specific tech tools in my own business as well as in my role as President of IVAA!
We hope you enjoy this month's issue of the IVAACast.
WORKING WITH A VIRTUAL ASSISTANT
3 Tools That Allow You to Work with Your Virtual Assistant from Anywhere
By Yvonne Weld
One of the most amazing things about technology is the doors that have been opened for business owners. Not only can you work with a Virtual Assistant, but you can do it from absolutely anywhere; home, office, or business trip, and do it seamlessly.
As a Virtual Assistant, my clients are always amazed when I introduce them to what I feel are three essential tools for the entrepreneur “on the go.” Many of my clients are speakers and coaches and travel is a big part of their business, and when they began using these tools they couldn’t believe how easily they could work from absolutely anywhere as if they had never left their office.
Tool #1 – Computer Access Program (Example – Logmein)
Although laptops are becoming more and more popular, many business owners continue to use a desktop as their main computer. As much as you may try to ensure that everything you need is on your laptop it is not always the case! Imagine being able to ask your Virtual Assistant to access your computer and retrieve the documentation that you need and send it to you. Using a computer access program such as logmein will allow you to do this.
Even more importantly, having a program such as this is a great way to give your Virtual Assistant the access they may need to enter data onto your computer that can’t always be completed and/or stored in places other than your own computer. Bookkeeping is a good example of this. Having your Virtual Assistant log onto your computer and input the data directly to your bookkeeping program is a great way to ensure that your bookkeeping records remain “in-house,” especially for those not yet comfortable with using online bookkeeping systems.
Tool #2 – File Storage (Example – Dropbox)
We have all heard talk of maintaining your data “in the cloud,” which essentially allows you the ability to access important files no matter where you are in the world. The other huge advantage of setting up a file storage or cloud system is you can easily give your Virtual Assistant access to those documents as well without having to worry about bogging down your email or losing important revisions and updates.
Tool #3 – Project Management/Communication Program (Example – Basecamp)
Without a doubt, one of the best tools for keeping on top of tasks and being able to record a “chain of communications” is by using a project management program. This is especially helpful when you are out of your office and don’t necessarily have access to all your email communications. By utilizing one of these programs you can easily keep track of what tasks are outstanding and keep on top of the communications surrounding those tasks.
Of course, there are more tools than just these three that can assist you in assuring that your relationship with your Virtual Assistant runs smoothly no matter where your business takes you. I encourage you to have a conversation with your Virtual Assistant about the tools they utilize in their business and be open to exploring these programs and resources for your own business! Then start packing and enjoy the freedom your business can experience from anywhere in the world!
FORMULAS FOR SUCCESS
12 GREAT Tools to Manage Your Time, Your Clients and Your Projects
One of the best perks of being a Virtual Assistant is that you have the ability to work from any location you choose. You don't have to be tied to your office, your desk, or any other physical location in order to effectively serve your clients.
In order to truly be virtual though, you need to have the correct tools in your toolbox to complete your projects and tasks.
Here are 12 tools to keep your projects moving forward efficiently at every stage.
- The first step for your projects is brainstorming. Capture and organize those amazing ideas with mind mapping software.
- XMind is probably the best-known mind mapping software solution. It allows importing and exporting to PDF and PowerPoint presentations. It also has a Gantt chart feature when your project is ready for the next step.
- TheBrain works across all your platforms. You can access and add to your mind map on the go. Don’t lose great ideas because you aren’t at your desk.
- Workflowy mimics the way you think. It’s a cross between Evernote and a mind map. Workflowy creates an outline of tasks, notes, and projects.
- Collaboration is vital to fully utilizing your team’s creativity. These solutions will help your team collaborate on documents.
- Evernote works across multiple platforms. Notes and notebooks can be shared among multiple users. It allows you to collect images, PDFs and clip websites. (Evernote is also GREAT for brainstorming!)
- Google Drive allows any member of the team to edit project documents from any device so the latest and greatest info is available to each team member 24/7.
- Create accountability. Stay on top of who has been assigned to key tasks.
- Basecamp tracks to dos, stores files, and allows your team to ask questions, and discuss projects. It also integrates with dozens of other tools, including Harvest time tracking.
- Teambox is simple and flexible. It links with Google Drive, Dropbox, and other cloud storage so all your files are accessible from one place.
- Project Management and CRM solutions connect people, clients, and projects. These solutions all have features that help your team work with your clients and keep your projects moving.
- Podio has add-on, customizable apps which make it one of the most flexible solutions. It has a social intranet that allows real-time collaboration.
- Smartsheet may be the perfect tool for you if you love spreadsheets. It simplifies collaboration by allowing you to attach files and keep project discussions in one place. Smartsheet is optimized for mobile devices allowing you to stay on top of your project on the go.
- Bento for Mac links with email to track project conversations. It also integrates with iCal and iPhoto.
- Central Desktop makes every team member’s files, calendars, and conversations accessible from anywhere. Share and communicate as easily with vendors and clients as you do with your team.
- Zoho Office Suite is aimed at tech businesses, but can be used no matter what your project is. Zoho is a web-based online office suite containing word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, databases, note taking, wikis, customer relationship management, project management, and invoicing systems.
Obviously, there are many project management solutions to choose from. Select the right tool for your business based on how you need to collaborate with your clients, streamline your workflow, and automate tedious tasks. More importantly, put the tool into action! Signing up and playing with it isn’t going to give you results, but using your tools consistently will. In doing so you’ll take your projects from great ideas to profitable results faster and more efficiently than ever before.
STAFF WRITER BIOS
Yvonne Weld is the owner of Able Virtual Assistant Services, a multi-VA firm specializing in online marketing VA services. Yvonne's role is as a Marketing Strategist and she uses her Virtual Assistant background and skills to create marketing plans and processes for her clients that are then implemented by her team. Yvonne also coaches clients in team building best practices and works with her clients to ensure that their VA teams are working cohesively. She uses her VA background to assist them to learn to communicate with their VAs to ensure that their visions become easily implementable action items.
Sydni Craig-Hart, The VA Success Coach™, is Founder of Executive
Assistant to Virtual Assistant!, a company dedicated to providing
Administrative Professionals with the support, tools and resources they
need to create a highly successful, profitable Virtual Assistant
business. Visit VASuccessSecrets.com
to listen to Sydni's FREE audio class "How To Start A Profitable Virtual Assistant Business... From Scratch Nothing!"