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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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

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

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