32 Ways Virtual Support Services Scales Your Small Business

32 Ways Virtual Support Services Scales Your Small Business

Business owners, CEOs, Entrepreneurs and Solopreneurs have a hard time letting go of pieces of their business, many times it’s because they don’t know what to hand off. Some are great at delegating while others, let’s just say they need a bit of coaching and prompting. That is where our Onboarding Concierge comes in. However, the problem with delegating is that usually, you don’t know what to give to your assistant or team member. Or they are great at delegating a task but terrible at giving them the information and access they need to complete it.

 

The Vicious Cycle of a Business Owner/CEO

You may have gone through this cycle as a Business Owner, CEO, Entrepreneur or Solopreneur.

Step 1: You are bogged down by various tasks, a bottleneck in the organization and when asked how many hours you work you say, “all of them”.

Step 2: You recognize the need for support, so you search the internet and ask peers for recommendations.

Step 3: You choose someone and hire them either on payroll or contract.

Step 4: You delegate a task to them.

Step 5: They ask for access or do something incorrectly or not the way you do it.

Step 6: Instead of correcting the error or granting them access, you do it yourself without providing feedback.

Step 7: You keep doing that task yourself and stop delegating because “I can do it myself faster.”

Step 8: You fire or ghost your new hire.

Step 9: You are bogged down by various tasks, a bottleneck in the organization and when asked how many hours you work you say, “all of them”.

Step 10: You recognize the need for support…

…you get the idea. If this sounds like you, here are the top tasks to delegate and here is how VEA onboards all of our clients with goals, clear communication and a clear plan of action to help you exit the cycle for good

 

Top 15 tasks for a Virtual Executive Assistant (VEA):

1. Email management: Efficiently organizing, filtering, and responding to emails to maintain communication flow.

2. Calendar management: Scheduling appointments, meetings, and events to optimize time management.

3. Travel arrangements: Planning and booking travel itineraries including flights, accommodations, and transportation.

4. Meeting coordination: Scheduling, preparing agendas, and taking minutes for meetings.

5. Administrative tasks: Handling paperwork, filing, data entry, and other general administrative duties.

6. Research: Conducting online research on various topics to gather information and data.

7. Correspondence: Drafting and editing letters, memos, and other business communications.

8. Document preparation: Creating and formatting documents such as presentations, reports, and spreadsheets.

9. Project coordination: Assisting with project management tasks, tracking deadlines, and coordinating team efforts.

10. Event planning: Organizing company events, conferences, and team-building activities.

11. Client/customer support: Providing assistance and support to clients/customers via phone, email, or chat.

12. Database management: Updating and maintaining databases with accurate information.

13. Follow-ups: Sending reminders and follow-up messages to ensure tasks and deadlines are met.

14. Vendor management: Coordinating with vendors and suppliers for procurement and deliveries.

15. Personal assistance: Providing personal support to executives, such as managing personal appointments and errands.

Top 10 tasks for a Bookkeeper:

1. Accounts receivable: Invoicing clients and tracking payments owed to the company.

2. Accounts payable: Processing and recording payments to vendors and suppliers.

3. Bank reconciliation: Balancing and reconciling bank statements with financial records.

4. Payroll processing: Calculating employee wages, taxes, and benefits, and ensuring timely payroll.

5. Expense tracking: Recording and categorizing business expenses for accurate financial reporting.

6. Financial reporting: Generating and analyzing financial statements such as balance sheets and income statements.

7. Tax preparation: Gathering financial data and documents to prepare for tax filings.

8. Budgeting: Assisting in the creation and monitoring of budgets to manage company finances effectively.

9. Financial analysis: Analyzing financial data to identify trends, opportunities, and areas for improvement.

10. Audit support: Providing documentation and assistance during financial audits and reviews.

Top 7 tasks for an Online Business Manager (OBM):

1. Strategy development: Collaborating with business owners to develop and implement strategic plans and goals.

2. Team management: Overseeing and coordinating the activities of virtual teams and freelancers.

3. Process improvement: Identifying and implementing systems and processes to streamline operations and increase efficiency.

4. Project management: Planning, organizing, and executing projects to ensure timely completion and quality deliverables.

5. Performance tracking: Monitoring key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics to measure business performance.

6. Client/customer relations: Managing client relationships and ensuring high levels of customer satisfaction.

7. Revenue generation: Developing and implementing strategies to increase sales, revenue, and profitability for the business.

Clarity

We hope this brings clarity to our three most popular virtual support services. VEA has helped hundreds of business owners, CEOs, Solopreneurs and Entrepreneurs delegate administrative, time-consuming, and energy-draining tasks since 2016. Allowing them to focus on high-level tasks that grow their business. What do you need to delegate to free up your time and energy?

 

Derek Burbidge
Manager of Sales & Marketing

11 Tasks, Projects & Processes to Outsource to Professionals

11 Tasks, Projects & Processes to Outsource to Professionals

As a Solopreneur you are taking care of everything from the top of the organization to the bottom.

 

  • You stock the copy machine and order supplies.
  • You run the whole sales process down to customer service.
  • You are the one ultimately responsible for everything in your business including its success and your failures.

It is manageable in the beginning but as you grow there are more and more unanswered emails, balls in the air, and to-dos that are not getting done. You want to hire your first employee, but you have no idea where to start.

This article will help you understand the who’s and what’s of outsourcing. We highly recommend reviewing our post on “What is One-Hour of Your Time Worth” to start prioritizing the tasks you are currently completing and understanding better what to outsource. The first piece of advice we will give is to hire fractionally.

Hiring fractionally means instead of onboarding a full-time employee at 40 hours a week, hire 4 professionals at 10 hours a week. For example, this could get your bookkeeping, administrative tasks, marketing, AND graphic design miles ahead.

List of Tasks

Many companies start by hiring a marketing person at 40 hours a week but quickly run out of work for them to do or try and make them a customer service representative, assistant, and janitor to justify their hours.

Here are the 11 tasks, projects & projects to outsource to Professionals as a Solopreneur:

Creative

  • Copywriting

Tasks to delegate: Blog posts, landing pages, website copy, social posts, and email newsletter.

  • Graphic Design

Tasks to delegate: Logo re-design, social posts, website, landing pages, brochures, email templates, business cards and handouts.

  • Professional Photography

Tasks to delegate: Headshot, product, location, and behind-the-scenes photos.

  • Web Developers

Tasks to delegate: New website design, website refresh, landing pages, technical setup, SaaS integration, and marketing integration.

 

Virtual Executive Assistant

Tasks to delegate: Email management, calendar management, meeting assistant, data entry, research, travel organization, and vendor/supplier liaison.

Tasks to delegate: Social media strategy, content calendar, graphic design, copywriting, scheduling, posting and engagement.

 

Virtual Bookkeeper

Tasks to delegate: Bank and credit card reconciliation, sales tax filing and compliance, and monthly/quarterly financial reporting.

Tasks to delegate: Following up on late payments, invoicing clients, paying bills, and scheduling payments.

Tasks to delegate: Ensuring your team and you get paid on time while following local and national laws.

 

Online Business Manager

Tasks to delegate: Create job descriptions, recruit and interview prospects, onboard team members and mentor your team.

Tasks to delegate: Document current processes, hand off processes to an Executive Assistant, remove bottlenecks and streamline internal systems.

 

Conclusion

Congratulations! You are well on your way from Solopreneur to Entrepreneur. Putting yourself in a position of working in your strengths and what you love. Doing what you always envisioned when you started your business. If an Executive Assistant, Bookkeeper, or Online Business Manager is the next piece you are looking to hire, VEA would love to help you onboard an expert who will scale with you and your business.

Book a call to learn more about our services and to see if we are a fit.

 

Derek Burbidge
Manager of Sales & Marketing

Unlocking Efficiency: 11 Strategies to Reclaim One Hour Daily in 2024

Unlocking Efficiency: 11 Strategies to Reclaim One Hour Daily in 2024

Your time is a precious commodity as a business owner. Your team, tasks, projects, vendors, and clients are all vying for it. You can quickly become the bottleneck in every area turning your free time, family time and hobby time into work time. If you are falling behind, not sure how to get past this season and heading into burnout, discover 11 practical strategies to help you save a valuable hour each day, allowing you to focus on what truly matters.

Save a Hour a Day

Routines:

Having a tried and tested nighttime and morning routine is crucial to success. What worked in your 20’s won’t work in your 30’s, what worked in your 30’s won’t work in your 40’s. Keep tweaking the routine to fit each season.

1. A Tried and Tested Nighttime Routine

A productive day starts the night before. Having a nighttime routine will wind your body down before bed, relieve the stress of the day and prepare you well for tomorrow. Here is an example of a solid nighttime routine:

  • Nightly hygiene – Wash your face and brush your teeth.
  • Get into bed or a comfortable chair and journal to decompress the day.
  • Meditation or breathing exercises.
  • Read a book – Preferably one that is not work-related.
  • Lights out 7-8 hours before you must wake up.

 

2. A Tried and Tested Morning Routine

The habit of waking up and getting into your workday is tempting, especially if you are behind, causing a bottleneck or stressed. Starting your morning slow will help the rest of your day speed up. Here are a few ideas on how to start your morning:

  • First thing should be away from electronics. Whether that is meditation, breathing exercises or reading a self-help book. Start your day by getting your mind right.
  • Drink a glass of water or two. Before you have your coffee(s) start by hydrating, so you don’t get behind.
  • Work out, go for a walk or stretch. If you sit at a desk all day your body needs movement, this is another strategy to get ahead instead of trying to fit it in later in the day.
  • Eat a healthy, protein-packed meal and add a few pieces of fruit to fuel up.

 

Delegating:

3. Utilize Technology

Uncover the latest productivity tools and apps that can automate repetitive tasks, freeing up your schedule for strategic decision-making.

4. Strategic Delegation

Delegate tasks strategically to lighten your workload. Discover the art of assigning responsibilities based on individual strengths, fostering a more efficient and collaborative work environment. We saved a client 14 hours a month on their billing process because they asked us if there was a better way. An Online Business Manager created a process utilizing technology and handed off the work to a virtual Executive Assistant to manage. If they didn’t ask if there was a better way, they would still be doing the 14-hour process.

Other Time-Saving Ideas:

5. Cancel Meetings

Revamp your approach to meetings. Learn how to conduct concise, purpose-driven meetings that yield results without consuming unnecessary time. Our clients use their virtual EA as a Meeting Assistant. The EA schedules the meeting, prepares agendas, confirms the meeting with attendees, compiles notes during the meeting and sends to-dos afterwards. Imagine having a meeting where all you must do is review the agenda going in and attend the meeting, everything else is done for you. If you are finding your meetings are not needed, redundant or not a good use of time, utilize Loom to explain processes or tasks rather than spending 15-30 minutes in an unnecessary meeting.

6. Power Naps: Boosting Productivity, One Nap at a Time

Unleash the potential of power naps or short breaks to recharge your energy levels and enhance overall focus. We’ve heard “rules” where you should take a break for x number of minutes worked. The most common is 15-minute breaks for every 60 minutes worked but find your rhythm. If you find after 90 minutes you need a break, take a break, if it’s after 30 minutes of focused work, take a quick break. If you need a power nap after lunch, take one. It will take time to discover what amount of time works best for you but if you are putting in lazy minutes in your day, take a break to boost productivity.

7. Digital Detox

Strike a balance between digital connectivity and personal well-being. Implement strategies to detox from constant notifications, allowing you to reclaim significant pockets of time. If you need to install software like Shift to keep all your tabs, windows, notifications, emails, etc. in one place it is easier to shut off notifications. Whatever strategy you use, ensure you are not pulled away by constant email, phone, social media, and Slack dings. Having focused work time in your calendar helps with this.

8. Strategic Networking: Quality over Quantity

Optimize your networking efforts by focusing on quality connections. Learn to build meaningful relationships that bring long-term value to your business without the need for endless events. A lot of our clients take one day a week for networking. Whether it is back-to-back Zoom meetings, or they hunker down at a coffee shop for a few hours taking meetings, batch your networking together.

9. Efficient Email Management: Utilizing Inbox Zero

Transform your email management habits. Uncover techniques to streamline your inbox, reducing the time spent on sorting through emails and ensuring a more efficient communication flow. We’ve covered this in a separate blog post here and highly recommend you check it out. Inbox Zero alone can save you an hour or more each day.

10. Continuous Learning: The Accelerator of Success

Invest in your knowledge base for exponential growth. Explore methods to incorporate continuous learning into your routine, providing a competitive edge in your industry and discovering new processes, software or people who can help you speed up. This also helps you and your team if you are getting bored or finding work stale.

11. Reflect and Refine: The Power of Daily Review

Cap off your workday with a reflective review and create an agenda for your next day. Don’t carry the stress of your day into the evening. This strategy helps avoid burnout and prepares you for a stronger tomorrow, ensuring you start your day with a clear plan of action.

 

Conclusion: Reallocate that time purposefully

Incorporate these strategies into your daily routine to save you hours this year. Keep in mind these strategies and routines will always be changing depending on your season. If you are single, it will look different when you are married. If you have young kids, it will look different as they grow up. Allow every strategy and routine to be flexible while constantly assessing if you can do things differently.

 

Derek Burbidge
Manager of Sales & Marketing

Grow and Expand Your Business with an Online Business Manager

Grow and Expand Your Business with an Online Business Manager

Think about your favourite restaurant. What makes it so good? From the best menu for a fair price, to the right music and an inviting host, a lot of processes are working together to create a smooth experience. The sum is often greater than its many parts.

While you might not be dreaming up tomorrow’s amuse bouche or plating any five-star desserts, your business still requires overarching policies, order, and rigor to produce products and services that customers want. To make that happen, enter the Online Business Manager (OBM).

An OBM is like a business owner’s right hand who can play a critical role in streamlining internal systems. In this post we’ve put together a list of the Top Five ways an OBM provides the most value that transcends traditional management functions like organizing, planning, and leading within a business framework.

1. Facilitates Seamless Operations

OBMs are the glue that keep a business owner and various teams working together toward the same goals. OBMs have a bird’s-eye view of operations, meaning they can identify bottlenecks, implement strategies that enhance efficiency, and improve cross-functional standard operating procedures.

2. Leverages Technology and Innovation

Choosing the right technologies for your company is important, but it can also be a total time and money suck if you don’t do your research. Worst yet, your team might resist adopting technology that isn’t easy to use or doesn’t serve a clear purpose, creating an uphill battle you are not prepared to fight.

OBMs keep their finger on the pulse of leading tools and platforms to optimize workflows, automate processes, and introduce solutions that harness more of your people’s potential rather than siphon off time, money, and productivity.

3. Oversees Human Resources

If you are scaling a small business, your OBM can serve as a point of contact for employees, addressing HR-related inquiries, concerns, or conflicts.

Hiring the right people, and then managing employee retention requires constant attention. An OBM assists in talent acquisition and management by collaborating with an HR team to develop effective recruitment strategies, ensuring that the organization attracts and hires top talent.

Your OBM may also be involved in the interview process by writing compelling job descriptions and vetting applications. You can still meet with top candidates and make the final hiring call, but hours of prep work have been removed from your plate.

4. Helps with Business Expansion

OBMs contribute to scalability by identifying efficiencies in processes and implementing overarching frameworks that accommodate growth.

They also analyze data, assess market trends, and provide valuable insights to support strategic decisions. An OBM’s expertise allows business owners to make well-informed choices that align with the company’s long-term objectives for expansion.

5. Communicates Effectively and Manages Relationships

Clear communication is the cornerstone of successful business operations. OBMs facilitate communication channels between various stakeholders so that everyone is aligned to the same objectives. Moreover, OBMs often act as a liaison between the business owner and external partners, nurturing relationships crucial for business success.

Real-World Case Story

Nothing brings hypothetical examples to life like a real case study. For example, our professional services client needed to streamline its time tracking system and invoice its customers more efficiently. Under their legacy system, they were still creating all invoices manually. It took two whole days to compile information and send invoices!

A VEA Online Business Manager reviewed the current process and identified areas for improvement. Then they created solid deliverables, researched and found the right digital tools to meet these deliverables, and worked with an Executive Assistant and Bookkeeper to implement the program.

Using a mixture of Clockify, Excel, and business analysis, VEA reduced the billing process from two days to just two hours, saving our client 14 hours per month in labor. Freeing up time by creating better processes enabled our client to grow without a lot of added administrative muscle to make it happen.

Are you Ready to Scale?

OBMs take on a comprehensive and dynamic role that extends far beyond basic managerial tasks. They engage in a broader scope of activities crucial for the success and growth of a modern business in the digital landscape.

The OBM also fosters a culture of continuous improvement and change management within the organization. Of course, culture is something that starts at the very top, but an OBM will promote and evangelize the values that are most important to your company. They can foster transparency, communication, and collaboration across departments, encouraging the sharing of best practices and innovative ideas.

Just like your favorite restaurant, every small business is a complicated, fast-paced enterprise that requires seamless processes for success. Contact VEA anytime to talk about your specific needs. Let’s find the right OBM who understands your business and can help make getting ahead feel easier.

Derek Burbidge
Manager of Sales & Marketing

Elevate Your Business: Introducing the Role of a Chief of Staff

Elevate Your Business: Introducing the Role of a Chief of Staff

You are surrounded by a talented team, and your Executive Assistant ensures everything from your calendar to your inbox is under control. Business is good, but you’re still doing tasks your team could handle if you had the time to delegate. You tell yourself, “I’ll get to that tomorrow if I can just finish this work right in front of me today.”

If you lack the right processes or systems to grow your business, and/or your team could benefit from better communication all around, it could be time to consider bringing a Chief of Staff, commonly known as an Executor Chief of Staff, Implementer, Online Business Manager (OBM), or Process Manager, into the mix.

 

What is a Chief of Staff?

While the role of a Chief of Staff, or Online Business Manager (OBM), will vary depending on your unique needs, they are not meant to replace your Executive Assistant. An Executive Assistant provides administrative and clerical support, and your OBM is responsible for overseeing day-to-day operations, including, but not limited to: managing employees, developing and implementing strategies, and monitoring financial performance indicators. 

An OBM typically has decades of experience in a business setting and helps ensure your company is running smoothly and efficiently.

An OBM is your right hand. They bridge operational and administrative functions to get the team working together. An OBM also finds ways to implement your strategies within the operations to keep moving your business forward.

With an OBM overseeing the daily business functions, you will have capacity to refocus on business growth, company culture, and anything else where you feel your contributions are most valuable.

“An Online Business Manager having a remote meeting via Zoom to present reporting, insights and direction”

How an Online Business Manager Can Help?

You and your Executive Assistant have developed a good rhythm, but you need more help at a strategic level. This is where an OBM shines. These professionals are trained to assist in areas such as:

Human Resources:

Hiring the right people, and then managing employee retention, is super important, but it is incredibly time consuming. An OBM assists in talent acquisition and management by collaborating with HR teams to develop effective recruitment strategies, ensuring that the organization attracts and hires top talent. Your OBM may also be involved in the interview process by writing compelling job descriptions and vetting applications. You can still meet with top candidates and make the final hiring call, but hours of prep work have been removed from your plate.

An OBM also contributes to talent development initiatives by identifying skill gaps and facilitating training programs to enhance employees’ capabilities. They help streamline HR processes and policies by assessing existing HR systems and identifying opportunities for improvement, such as implementing HR technology solutions or revising outdated policies. If your company is on the smaller side, your OBM can also serve as a point of contact for employees, addressing HR-related inquiries, concerns, or conflicts.

Project Planning and Management:

You know those people who just love a spreadsheet more than most? An OBM fits that definition. Complicated projects require the attention and rigor only a dedicated team member can give to ensure your vision is carried through to completion.

Your OBM plays a critical role in project planning and management by providing strategic guidance, coordination, and oversight. Everyone approaches project management a bit differently, but generally speaking your OBM will help define project goals and objectives by collaborating with stakeholders, analyzing data, and aligning the project’s vision with the organization’s strategic priorities. Then they can facilitate the creation of a comprehensive project plan and resource requirements, and outline key milestones, timelines, and deliverables.

Your OBM ensures effective project management by establishing clear communication channels, with both the project team and external stakeholders. They initiate regular meetings and check-ins to monitor progress, identify potential roadblocks, and make necessary adjustments to keep the project on track. They also think about resource allocation, ensuring that priorities are ranked in a way so that proper funding can be made available to complete the project within the given time period and team members are not overloaded, working overtime, or faced with complete burnout.

A good OBM can foster collaboration among team members, promote problem-solving, and provide support when conflicts or challenges arise. By overseeing project planning and management, the OBM ensures that initiatives remain aligned with the organization’s strategic objectives, optimize resource utilization, and increase the likelihood of successful project completion. Honestly, would you really have time to do all of this on your own?

Streamlining Internal Systems:

You can’t deliver strategy without systems and processes in place to do so. They create the infrastructure, much like our roads, bridges, and railroad lines do to keep traffic flowing.

An OBM plays a crucial role in streamlining these internal systems. They often begin by assessing existing processes and workflows to identify inefficiencies and bottlenecks. They collaborate with cross-functional teams to develop and implement streamlined procedures, ensuring that resources are utilized effectively and tasks are completed in a timely manner. The OBM may also leverage technology and automation tools to optimize internal systems, reducing manual work and increasing productivity.

The OBM  fosters a culture of continuous improvement and change management within the organization. Of course, culture is something that starts at the very top, but an OBM will promote and evangelize the values that are most important to your company. They can foster transparency, communication, and collaboration across departments, encouraging the sharing of best practices and innovative ideas.

By streamlining internal systems, the OBM helps eliminate waste, enhance operational efficiency, reduce Costs, and improve overall organizational performance. They can define performance metrics, monitor progress and iterate on processes as needed. They play a pivotal role in driving organizational growth and ensuring that the company operates at its highest potential.

Is it Time for a Chief of Staff or Online Business Manager?

You should consider hiring an OBM if:

  • Important commitments get pushed out due to lack of time, energy or resources.
  • You feel the pressure of not having the time to strategize.
  • Integrating new business opportunities feels more energy draining than exciting.
  • Connection within your team is fragmented, and communication gaps are creating roadblocks.
  • Keeping your team morale up seems to be getting more difficult as you grow.
  • Recruitment and hiring are too rushed, or do not get done at all.

Every leader needs help if they want to achieve big goals, not to mention sustain the colossal energy it takes to lead. Hiring the right OBM could be the most important business decision you ever make as you strive for better performance in your organization.

Contact VEA anytime to talk about your specific needs. Let’s find the right OBM who understands your needs and can help make getting ahead feel easier.

 

Tovey Blake
Operations Manager

 

 

Frequently asked Questions about Chiefs of Staff

Q: How do I onboard a Chief of Staff or Online Business Manager?

A: The team at VEA will guide you through a step-by-step onboarding process to ensure you are matched with an OBM who is right for you and your business.

Q: What if I only need help during peak seasons?

A: Our OBMs are available on an ongoing basis as well as for one-off projects to fit your needs.

Q: How can I be sure I will get a Chief of Staff or Online Business Manager who understands what I need?

A: We begin with an in-depth strategy session to better understand where you require support as well as assess for personality and culture fit. You get to meet potential candidates and are part of the decision-making process from the beginning. VEA prides itself on HAND MATCHING every OBM to every client. We will work with you to get it right.

Q: What if I quickly realize I don’t need a Chief of Staff or Online Business Manager?

A: We will discover that for you before we even get started and most likely recommend an Executive Assistant instead.

Q: How does VEA ensure I am getting the most value from my Chief of Staff or Online Business Manager?

A: Open and regular communication with your OBM is the best way to get what you need. By the end of your kickoff call, your OBM should be clear about the project and/or role expectations. 

The kickoff call for a one-off project entails: Review of scope of work. Your OBM will then use the approved scope to create a project plan and work-back schedule to complete deliverables.

The kickoff call for an ongoing role entails: Creation of a 90-day plan that focuses on a combination of “quick win” improvements and short-term goals. 

In either case, your OBM will lead and execute the work needed to result in positive outcomes.

Q: How many years of experience does a Chief of Staff or Online Business Manager have?

A: Our OBMs have at least ten years of experience, and many have more than that.

Q: Where is your team located?

A: We are a Canada-based, remote workforce. Our OBMs are spread across Canada, and we can match you with someone who is within or near your time zone.