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

Project Implementation and Consultation – for Applications!

Project Implementation and Consultation – for Applications!

When VEA was looking to implement a new time tracking application (read more about that here) initially we picked something that we thought looked amazing and were ready to buy it that day! Lucky for us, one of our System & Operational Process Specialists (SOPS for short) got wind of the project and called me up. She started asking a lot of important questions that I realized we didn’t have the answers to.

 

Had we gone with the application we were originally looking at, we would have discovered very quickly it didn’t do half of the things that our team actually needed it to do. We probably would have ended up abandoning the application and starting over. What a waste of time and money for everyone!

 

A System & Operational Process Specialist (a title within our Online Business Manager (OBM) services) will help you research, select and implement new applications (including change management with your team). There are a lot of questions to consider when you are thinking about implementing a new application. You don’t want to spend time and resources implementing something only to find out 6 months down the road it doesn’t do everything your team needs it to do. Or worse, that your team has a major requirement you didn’t consider and now you have to scrap the whole project.

 

Working with one of our System & Operational Process Specialists will help you discover and answer questions like:

 

Our System & Operational Process Specialists can assist with a wide variety of application requirements – everything from Microsoft set up (such as creating SharePoint sites and OneDrive architecture) to time tracking, project management, and service management applications.

 

Best of all, you get the added benefit at each phase of either continuing with the VEA team or completing the rest of the phases inhouse.

 

Want to learn more? Click the banner below to schedule a call with us to discuss how our SOPS (under the OBM banner) can scale your business.

 

Lanna Thompson
Co-Founder & CEO at VEA

Project Implementation and Consultation – for Processes!

Project Implementation and Consultation – for Processes!

Has a process in your company left you feeling like there must be a better way?! Trust me, we’ve been there! 3 years ago, the billing process at VEA Office Professionals (VEA) took us 16 hours to complete over a 2-day period. Every client we added to our roster, meant the total time for billing would increase. Our Accounting Team dreaded payroll and invoicing at the end of the month – the overall process was painful and time-consuming.

Enter one of our amazing System & Operational Process Specialists (SOPS), Lenneal Howden!

She reviewed our current processes, assessed possible risks, identified areas where we could automate, and implemented the solution that best fit us. The end result? A customized report that was designed with the flexibility to optimize it in the future, could easily maintain the integrity of the data, and most importantly made our work and life easier. Our billing now takes approximately 4 hours per month – a 75% decrease in the time required.

 

Our System & Operational Process Specialists have experience and expertise in reviewing business processes and technology to identify areas for improvement. We have helped many companies streamline their operations and increase efficiency. With a properly documented process, we can analyze what is currently working and what can be done more efficiently. That’s where the magic begins – using that data, we make recommendations to automate and streamline. Sometimes this will involve implementing new applications (read more about that here) and other times we may create connections between your existing applications.

 

Automating processes is like giving yourself a superpower!

  • Saves Time: One of the best things about automation is that it saves you time. Instead of spending hours doing manual tasks, you can set up a system to do them for you in seconds. This means you have more time to focus on important things, such as servicing your clients, growing your business, or spending time with your family.
  • Reduces Human Errors: Let’s face it, we’re all human, and humans make mistakes. But automated functionality not so much. By automating processes, you can significantly reduce the risk of errors caused by human oversight or fatigue. This leads to more accurate results and happier customers.
  • Increases Efficiency: Automation is like turbocharging your productivity. It allows you to get more done in less time, which can have a big impact on your bottom line. Whether you’re a small business trying to keep up with demand or an individual trying to stay organized, automation can help you work smarter, not harder.
  • Improves Consistency: Have you ever noticed how some tasks are done differently depending on who’s doing them? With automation, you can ensure that every task is performed the same way every time. This consistency not only improves quality but also makes it easier to track and measure performance.
  • Enhances Scalability: As your business grows, so do your needs. Automation can scale with you, allowing you to handle increased volume without adding more resources. Whether you’re processing orders, managing inventory, or responding to customer inquiries, automation can help you keep up with demand without breaking a sweat.

 

This all might sound complex, and frankly a little overwhelming, but our System & Operational Process Specialists make it easy by using a 3-step phased approach.

 

Phase 1 - Process Review

We do a deep dive into your process(s) and conclude the phase with a complete strategy for improvement. 

This phase is independent and does not commit you to working with us on implementation. You can implement the recommendations made on your own, or you can work with us to move on to Phase 2.

Phase 2 - Process Implementation

Most of our clients choose to have us implement the recommendations moving forward. After all, we just got up close and personal with your business and team leaders! Additionally, we find that sometimes changes in processes can create resistance in your team. We can smooth that over by ensuring they understand we are the ones recommending the changes. We will also work with them through any challenges they may encounter throughout the phase.

Phase 3 – Process Management

Good process management provides a clear understanding and documentation of the actions required from point A to point B to achieve desired results. Management will also look for ways to continually improve the various actions required from point A to point B. Their goal is to provide the desired results while improving the process and aligning it to the company’s strategic goals.

 

Conclusion

This means at each phase YOU are in complete control of deciding if you wish to continue the implementation with your dedicated VEA team or complete the rest of the phases in-house.

 

Want to learn more? Click the banner below to schedule a call with us to discuss our Online Business Manager services which includes our System & Operational Process Specialists (SOPS).

Lanna Thompson
Co-Founder & CEO at VEA

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

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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