Creating Business Owner Success: Your Virtual Executive Assistant and Time Management

Creating Business Owner Success: Your Virtual Executive Assistant and Time Management

Virtual Executive Assistants and Virtual Assistants are extremely popular in the remote world, but what exactly are they? As the name suggests they are both fully remote. A Virtual Assistant or VA, is less experienced working in their role and usually requires more hand-holding and training. A Virtual Executive Assistant or Virtual EA, is highly experienced, can work more autonomously, requires little to no hand-holding and has a vast skill set due to their years of experience.

At VEA we only hire Virtual EA’s who have at least 5+ years of experience working with business owners, Entrepreneurs or C-Suite level Executives.

Whether you are hiring a Virtual Assistant or a Virtual Executive Assistant, the end goal is to delegate tasks and save yourself time. Usually, business owners will hand off the tasks that drain their time or energy, freeing them up for higher-level tasks that grow the business. This is usually called “Working On” the business vs “Working In” the business.

Here are a Few Examples of Our Clients who Saved Hours in Their Day By Hiring a Virtual EA:

1. Meeting Assistant/Calendar Manager - 15 minutes per meeting

Imagine reviewing your calendar and seeing 5 meetings in your workday from 9am-5pm. There are two reactions you may have, either stress or peace. The stressful part is that you have to prep for the meeting by creating an agenda, take notes and send follow-ups afterwards.

Our clients have a peaceful reaction by allowing their EA to act as a Meeting Assistant. They know their Virtual EA:

  1. Set up the appointments
  2. Created the calendar invite
  3. Prepped the meeting notes
  4. Suggested software to take notes in the meeting
  5. Reviewed and sent the notes
  6. Put the to-dos in their project management software
  7. Sent a follow-up email on their behalf.

This allows their client to go from meeting to meeting fully prepared without wasting time doing administrative tasks. In one instance this saved their client 15 minutes per meeting, equaling 75 minutes in their day! This opens up more time to work on higher-level tasks, remove bottlenecks or meet with 2 more prospects each day.

 

2. Email Manager - 1 Hour a Day

The first thing most business professionals do in their workday is check their email. After weeding through spam, responding to requests and crafting the perfect email, an hour of their day has gone by. If you start your day in your email rather than spending time on what needs your attention, a Virtual EA will be a gamechanger for you.

Having a Virtual Executive Assistant check your email before you get to your desk will give you a head start on your day. They leave what is urgent and needs your response and remove everything else. In many cases, this saves our clients an hour or more a day! By utilizing the “Inbox Zero” strategy, your Virtual EA will keep your day on track.

 

3. Data Entry – 30 Minutes Per Appointment

A Solopreneur client of VEA’s would spend 30 minutes after an appointment entering information into spreadsheets and a PDF order form which kept a large amount of their calendar blocked off after every appointment. When their Virtual EA recognized this, they took over their data entry. This opened up an extra appointment time in their calendar to spend with clients and generate revenue, allowing for an extra $900+ to be made each day. Their next step is hiring an Online Business Manager to automate the process.

 

4. Process Management – 14 Hours a Month

A professional services client of VEA’s was manually invoicing their clients every month. This meant the first few days of each month were spent in QuickBooks. Once they were brave enough to ask “Is there a better way?” Our team went to work. An Online Business Manager (OBM) and Virtual Executive Assistant worked together to implement a new process utilizing digital tools to save them 14 hours a month!

 

5. Creating Work Instructions and Standard Operating Procedures – 15 Hours a Month

Implementing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and Work Instructions across your business is the biggest way to streamline and grow. It helps onboard new employees, speed up every level of the organization and potentially sell your business at a higher evaluation. If you are finding that you work over 8 hours a day or 5 days a week, implementing SOPs and Work Instructions will allow you to get back to a normal life and take a vacation!

Our OBM’s are experts at both. If you need to speed up your team, onboard clients and team members quickly and take some time off, reach out to our team to see if we are the right fit.

 

Conclusion:

Have time management tips been your most searched Google term? Are you spending more time working this year? Feeling bogged down in administrative tasks?

Have a call with our team to see how we can streamline your business, free up your time and get you working on what you enjoy and what needs your attention.

Book A Call with VEA.

 

Derek Burbidge
Manager of Sales and Marketing

Automating Routine Tasks in Your Business: Automate, Delegate, Alleviate

Automating Routine Tasks in Your Business: Automate, Delegate, Alleviate

There is an infinite amount of advice on the internet that comes from experts, influencers, and AI. This leads to Business Owners and Entrepreneurs being inundated with ideas and resources on how to grow themselves and their businesses. There is never enough time in a day to implement everything you learn, and a lot of the advice won’t work for you. The easiest way to complete anything is to break it into bite-sized, manageable pieces.
It’s a lot like automating processes and delegating tasks. You are inundated with ideas and advice on how to automate and delegate processes, but you don’t know where to start. If you are looking at the whole picture and the hours it takes to complete something, it is way too overwhelming to grasp. This leads to you continuing to do it the way you always have and continuing to complete the processes that could be automated. If you are ready to bring in experts to free up your time, this is how VEA helps businesses grow by breaking down their processes into these 3 pieces: Automate, Delegate, Alleviate.

 

The first step is to automate that process which takes too much of your time. Whether it is email management, project management, travel booking, bookkeeping, invoicing, or recruiting and onboarding new staff or clients. A Business Manager will build and document each process, find faster ways to complete it and help you decide whether or not it’s worth your time. If it isn’t worth your time, we help you delegate it to a virtual Executive Assistant or Bookkeeper.
If you are stuck in the weeds and not sure how to audit your time or discover which step to automate, simply take a step back. Review what your days have looked like so far and even what you are dreading or putting off doing. Those should be the first tasks you automate. Many of our clients also audit their time. A resource like Clockify is very helpful for this. Sign up for a free account and track how long you are spending on each task. If email management takes you a combined 2 hours a day, that is a perfect opportunity to find better systems like “Inbox Zero”. After a few weeks, you can discover where your time is being spent and ask yourself, “Should I be doing this or automating it.”

 

You will quickly discover that you do not have to do everything. A business owner who tries to complete every task themselves will hit burnout, procrastination, and bottlenecks. The truth is some owners are micromanagers and find it nearly impossible to let go of tasks but usually, the issue is that they don’t have time to discover a faster way. That is where a Business Manager comes in to help them discover how to delegate and who to delegate to. It could be someone on your team or you can hire an Executive Assistant or Bookkeeper to completely take it over from you.

Some of the most common tasks our Online Business Managers improve are:

  • Project planning
  • Project management
  • Recruitment
  • Client onboarding
  • Team onboarding
  • Team mentoring
  • Biz dev research
  • Reporting

Again, these are common tasks but we are consistently receiving and discovering new opportunities to streamline processes.

Once our clients have automated and delegated processes they have saved anywhere from 5 hours to over 14 hours a month! Imagine saving yourself almost 2 full days! The hours you save can have you working fewer or no evenings and weekends, and removing bottlenecks from your organization. Freeing you up so you can run more efficiently and work on higher-level tasks to grow your business further.

If you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed, automating and delegating always leads to alleviating time, pressure and stress from your business.

 

Then What?

Once you have saved yourself hours a month, repeat the process. Our Online Business Managers can repeat the process for different tasks, processes, or projects in your business. If you’ve cleared up your emails and spent fewer hours in your inbox, move on to the project you have been putting off. If you have removed bottlenecks within your team by hiring a Business Manager to take over projects and mentoring, move on to a new internal system for them to streamline.

VEA has been helping small businesses run efficiently for the past 8 years and even though the term “expert” is thrown around everywhere these days, we are experts at what we do. If it is time to automate, delegate and alleviate, book a call with our team to see if we are the right fit for your business.

 

Derek Burbidge
Manager of Sales & Marketing

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Email Management in 2024: Utilizing Inbox Zero

Email Management in 2024: Utilizing Inbox Zero

Do you dread opening your email? Does the ever-growing inbox number send shivers down your spine? You’re not alone. In today’s digital world, email overload is a common struggle, impacting productivity, focus, and even mental well-being. But fear not, fellow email warriors! There’s a path to email zen: Inbox Zero. We have touched on Inbox Zero in a previous blog post, but with new AI tools scraping data from every corner of the internet, your email is on way more lists than ever. Without the proper tools, it can be a full-time job managing your inbox and we can guarantee important emails are being flagged as junk or missed altogether. Let’s learn about Inbox Zero along with a few tips to manage your email better.

Email Management Tips

What is Inbox Zero?

Forget the literal interpretation. Inbox Zero isn’t about a constant state of zero emails. It’s a mindset and method for managing your inbox efficiently, minimizing clutter, and reclaiming control over your time. As productivity guru Merlin Mann puts it, “Inbox Zero is the amount of time an employee’s brain is in his inbox.” You may never get down to “zero” emails in your inbox, but you will get to a place of having less of your energy spent on your inbox. That is the overall goal of Inbox Zero.

 

Keys to Unlocking Inbox Zero Bliss:

1. Embrace the "Touch it Once" Rule

When an email lands, decide its fate immediately. Reply, delete, archive, or delegate – don’t leave it lingering. This also removes the stress of having to get back to someone or putting out a fire. Get it done or delegated right away.

2. Batch Processing is Your Best Friend

Don’t check your inbox constantly. Schedule dedicated times to process emails in focused bursts. We usually recommend it before lunch or the end of the day. You will usually have an extra urgency since you want to eat or log off.

3. Folders & Labels

Use folders sparingly for long-term storage and quick review. Having labels for filtering and quick access are more valuable.

4. Unsubscribe Ruthlessly

Feeling overwhelmed? Unsubscribe from unnecessary emails – newsletters, promotions, anything you don’t actively use. I find myself constantly deleting emails from the same company before reminding myself of the unsubscribe button.

5. Set Boundaries & Communicate

Let colleagues and clients know your email checking schedule and preferred communication methods. Many of our clients utilize the autoresponder to communicate the times they will be checking email and if there is anything very urgent, to contact their Executive Assistant.

6. Leverage Technology

Tools like filters, autoresponders, and email clients with advanced features can automate tasks and streamline workflows. Shift is a great software that houses all of your browsers, email and apps. It also allows you to silence notifications which keeps you on task.

 

Why Choose Inbox Zero?

The benefits of achieving Inbox Zero are numerous:

1. Enhanced Productivity

Having constant notifications and emails needing your attention pulls you off task. Having Inbox Zero in place with the support of your virtual Executive Assistant to manage it, you will stay focused on the task at hand, without interruptions. No more being pulled away to see if that “ding” was important or spam.

2. Reduced Stress & Anxiety

Constant unread messages trigger a fight-or-flight response. Inbox Zero brings only the most important emails to your attention while the rest are taken care of.

3. Improved Work-Life Balance

Define email boundaries and avoid work bleeding into personal, family, hobby or vacation time.

4. Sharpened Focus

Eliminate distractions and channel your energy into meaningful tasks. Inbox Zero helps you create time blocks in your day without distractions pulling you away.

5. Boost in Motivation

Seeing a clean inbox is psychologically rewarding, fueling further action and creativity. It’s like having a clean workspace, car or home…it just makes you feel better.

 

Beyond the Basics:

1. Tailor the System

Inbox Zero isn’t a rigid formula. Experiment, find what works for you, and adjust as needed. Like anything we recommend and as we did in our “15 Minutes a Day of Self-Care for Business Owners” blog, try different methods and tweak them to fit your season.

2. Prioritize Accordingly

Use a system like Eisenhower Matrix to prioritize emails based on urgency and importance. This should be done utilizing folders in your inbox. My virtual Executive Assistant (virtual EA) does this first thing in the morning so when I get to my computer, I only check email in the “For Review” folder.

3. Automate Where Possible

Set up filters, canned responses, and autoresponders to save time and effort. If you are not sure how to do this yourself or would rather have a professional take over your email, book a call with our team.

4. Remember, it's a Journey

Don’t get discouraged by setbacks. Consistency and progress are key. Inbox Zero takes learning and as mentioned above, you will need to tweak it to work for you. Sometimes important emails will be moved to junk or the wrong folder. Keep tweaking the filters and communicate with your EA on what requires your attention. As time goes on, this process will be a well-oiled machine saving you hours and hours.

 

Conclusion

If you haven’t tried Inbox Zero, give it a try with a few folders in place and start creating filters. Don’t forget to unsubscribe to emails that don’t add any value to your life. Within the first week of setting up time blocks, folders and filters, you will see more tasks getting done, higher levels of focus and less time spent scrolling up and down your inbox.

Derek Burbidge
Manager of Sales and Marketing

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Mistakes Business Owners Make When They Hire a Virtual Assistant

Mistakes Business Owners Make When They Hire a Virtual Assistant

Through our countless sales calls with business owners, c-suite executives and entrepreneurs, we’ve heard the many reasons why hiring a virtual Assistant hasn’t worked in the past.

We even had a lot of turnover in our first three years for the same reasons virtual Assistant (VA) services hasn’t worked for a lot of people. It is why we created our onboarding process a few years ago, it comes with your own Onboarding Concierge who asks targeted questions to understand you, your business, and your goals. From that call we hand match you with one of our talented virtual staff and discuss the game plan with them before you officially get started.

Whether you are looking for a virtual Executive Assistant (virtual EA), virtual Bookkeeper (BK) or Online Business Manager (OBM). If you’ve tried and failed in the past, we see your pain and understand what the main issues are. Thankfully, we have grown VEA to help you learn how to hire a virtual Executive Assistant to ensure a long-lasting relationship.

Guy in front of a computer

The mistakes and hiccups of hiring a VA stem from the following:

1. You Didn’t Have Enough Work for Them

This can lead to you spending more time finding work for your virtual Assistant than the time it takes to complete the tasks you create for them. So, how do you find and create work for your virtual Assistant?

Rule #1 is to give your virtual EA recurring work that takes your time but doesn’t need your attention. An example is to hand off your email and calendar management. You spend too much time reading through, responding to, and deleting emails that don’t really require your attention. If you are like many of our clients, you also spend a ton of time setting up meetings, booking appointments, and playing email tag trying to “find a time that works.”

Your virtual Executive Assistant can double as a Meeting Assistant which allows you to jump from meeting to meeting without having to set up, take notes or follow up, saving you hours in a week. Having your virtual EA managing your calendar, meetings and emails are three simple ideas to give them re-occurring work.

2. Your Communication Was Sporadic

In many cases, the first point of not having enough work leads to sporadic communication. If you don’t have enough work or are too busy, meetings get pushed which causes a breakdown in the relationship and any trust that has been building, starts to decline. We recommend that all our new clients meet with their EA every day for the first 2 weeks. Even if that is only for 15 minutes. Each day in those 2 weeks should have a theme.

On Monday you get them an email address with your domain and have them connected to your inbox to clear out unwanted emails, set up filters and ensure you no longer have to spend hours a week managing your inbox. On Tuesday, you give them access to your calendar; Wednesday is invoicing…every day for 2 weeks there is a goal. This gets your EA set up quickly and starts to build the relationship. From there, you can go down to a meeting once or twice a week, whatever your needs are. Without set meetings, communication will be sporadic, any changes that need to be made won’t be and tasks will start piling back up on your plate.

3. You Didn’t Know What to Hand-Off

This usually applies to your virtual Executive Assistant. For a Bookkeeper you don’t need to think twice about what to give them and our OBM services have an initial strategy call to set the pace of the engagement. Without the Onboarding Concierge setting the pace for your launch with your EA, it is easy to go aimless without a clear plan. If you are not utilizing VEA for your virtual services the same answer from question 1 applies here but to expand on that, add in your to-do lists.

Whether that is for work or personal. Your virtual Executive Assistant can double as a Personal Assistant by placing grocery orders, buying gifts, setting personal appointments, and blocking off time in your calendar to ensure you don’t miss important life and family events.

4. They Were Too Inexperienced

During our initial call, we always ask if you’ve worked with virtual staff before. If the answer is yes, the main reason clients have ended services was because their virtual staff were too inexperienced to complete the tasks. They are usually offshore VA’s or family members completing their bookkeeping.

As your business grows, you need a higher level of support which is where we come in. Our virtual EA’s and BK’s have over 5, but most have over 10+ years of experience in their role. Our OBM’s have up to, if not over 15 years of experience. If you’ve settled in the past

Call now

Conclusion

If you are giving it a go again, ensure you have tasks assigned to them. For example, every time a new client request comes into your inbox, they set them up in the CRM and schedule the call/appointment. Having your virtual Assistant managing your email is also a time-saving task that keeps you in front of what is important. By handing off repetitive tasks, you ensure that your VA will have work to do and keep the relationship going

Derek Burbidge
Manager of Sales and Marketing at VEA

How to Hire a Virtual Assistant

How to Hire a Virtual Assistant

As small business owners your world is fast paced with hundreds of tasks landing on your plate, leading you to work evenings and weekends. You have quickly discovered that this new life is not sustainable and look to outsourcing various tasks.

Usually, you want to hire a Bookkeeper to take those tedious tasks off your plate, next, is your administrative tasks. Removing data entry, research, calendar management, email management, travel booking and ensuring that meetings go smoothly with an Assistant who doubles as a meeting assistant. Now that you are looking to outsource, an Administrative Assistant, virtual Assistant (VA) or virtual Executive Assistant (VEA) become search terms you are familiar with. However, what is a VA, or virtual EA and how do you hire one?

Shaking Hands

What is a Virtual Assistant or Virtual Executive Assistant:

A VA or VEA takes over tasks much like an Administrative Assistant, however they are strictly online. A VA will have less experience and generally requires more hand-holing and back and forth. A virtual Executive Assistant is highly experienced working with c-suite executives and business owners. Our clients usually call us because they are doing the tedious, time-consuming tasks that don’t require their attention. Those tasks can be travel booking, invoicing, setting up rules and filters in your email to remove junk or spam before it reaches your inbox, CRM management an countless other tasks on your to-do list.

What to do Before Hiring a Virtual Assistant:

Recognize how much your time is worth and tasks that are draining your energy. If you are unsure of where to start, our onboarding process helps create a plan of action over the next 6 months to ensure your launch with VEA is successful. Our Onboarding Concierge asks pointed questions to draw out your needs, your loves, your hates, your dreams for your business and discusses them with your virtual Executive Assistant before you begin with us. The last thing any of us wants is to waste time for weeks discovering the gameplan as we go, let’s create it before we start and tweak it along the way.

How Much Does a Virtual Assistant Cost:

That all depends on experience. If you don’t mind handholding for the first few months and waiting 24 hours for a response, hire overseas. This is usually the start for companies looking to hire for only a few hours a week. If you are looking for a highly experienced Assistant who will be client facing, the price can go up. If you are hiring a less experienced Assistant, the price can range from $5-$30 USD per hour. If you are hiring an experienced Assistant, the price ranges from $35-$60 USD per hour. Most of these Assistants will be hired on contract so you don’t have to worry about benefits and perks.

How to Hire a Virtual Assistant:

You need to first discover what you are looking for and how many hours you need. Once you have your gameplan in place, it is easier to discover more tasks to hand off and how many approximate hours you need. From there, decide whether you want someone experienced or inexperienced, this factor will most likely be determined by your budget. If your budget is lower a lot of these factors like location and experience will be decided for you. A higher budget comes with more experience and on shore Executive Assistants, where a lower budget (under $750/month) will take you offshore with less experienced virtual Assistants.

How Many Hours Does a Virtual Assistant Work:

This is all based on how many hours you need and can limit the pool of Assistants. If you are looking for only a few hours a week or close to full-time, you may have a harder time finding or keeping a VA. Most VAs are remote and prefer to control their hours, having close to 40 hours a week makes that harder for them to be flexible with their schedules. Hiring someone around 2-3 hours a week makes you less of a priority and normally means you have 0 hours for them in one week and 5 in the next. With the unpredictability or hours and pay, many VA’s end up firing you as a client. At VEA, we have 20 hours a month as a minimum to ensure that you are consistent with your EA and their hours are guaranteed. If you need full-time, we offer that as well. Our team of over 70 virtual staff are all over the map with their desired hours, ensuring that we have someone experienced to fit your needs.

Hiring a Virtual Assistant, Again:

We’ve heard the many reasons why hiring a virtual Assistant hasn’t worked in the past. It is why we created our new onboarding process complete with your own Onboarding Concierge. If you’ve tried and failed in the past the main reasons, are you didn’t have enough work for them, your communication was sporadic, you didn’t know what to hand-off or they were too inexperienced. If you are giving it a go again, ensure you have tasks assigned to them. For example, every time a new client request comes into your inbox, they set them up in the CRM and schedule the call/appointment. Having your virtual Assistant managing your email is also a time-saving task that keeps you in front of what is important. By handing off repetitive tasks, you ensure that your VA will have work to do and keep the relationship going.

Conclusion

If you are looking for highly experienced virtual Executive Assistants, meet VEA. Our EA’s have over 5+ years, but must have 10+ years of experience, working for C-Suite level executives, business owners and Entrepreneurs. If you have tried alternative routes and failed, our onboarding process will give you the perfect jump start you need to make this time around successful. Book a call with VEA to get those time-consuming, energy- draining tasks off your plate so you can get back to what is important.

Derek Burbidge
Manager of Sales & Marketing at VEA