How a Meeting Assistant Can Make You More Productive

How a Meeting Assistant Can Make You More Productive

You wake up in the morning and see your calendar is jam packed full of meetings. You take this schedule one of two ways:

#1 – Stress: You know you are going to be ghosted at least once or twice, you see the tight time windows and worry about being prepared for each meeting and having proper notes taken during. Then there is the follow-up afterwards that will take time out of your day.

#2 – Ease: You have a meeting assistant who schedules all the meetings, follows up with a reminder to confirm with those you are meeting with, prepares all of the notes and will take minutes, follow up and not only create to-do lists out of those meetings but complete many of those tasks as well. You know today looks busy but will be pretty seamless.

In the online meeting era with Zoom fatigue being a buzzword surrounding it, your days can look stressful, or you can enter them with productivity and ease knowing that these meetings are going to go smoothly.

What Causes an Unproductive Meeting?

To run a smooth meeting, we need to address what makes for an unproductive, clunky meeting.

An unproductive meeting includes no:

  • Agenda
    • An agenda provides guardrails for the meeting, if you haven’t properly prepared one or transferred a meeting template to this meeting it will delay the meeting or lead to an unproductive meeting.
  • Meeting notes
    • If notes are not properly taken with to-do lists created, important topics covered and completion timelines set, it usually means the meeting was a waste of time.
  • Reminder emails before the meeting
    • Setting these up for all attendees beforehand is crucial to prevent no-shows and 5-15 minutes wasted in an empty Zoom meeting room or coffee shop, not to mention potential time driving to the meeting.

Not having these three areas covered leads to meetings running over time, going off-topic, and ending with no conclusions or concrete takeaways.

 

How do I Set Myself Up for a Smooth Meeting?

Having an agenda prepared beforehand with meeting notes and reminder emails sent means you are much more confident going in. You know attendees are most likely going to show up and you have everything in front of you to get started immediately on topic. This is where a meeting assistant will save you hours a week and set you up for productive meetings. Business owners know how many hours are taken up by meetings, feeling like one was a waste of time means many wasted hours which translates to dollars.

Our virtual Executive Assistants are experienced meeting assistants for Business Owners, C-Suite Executives and Entrepreneurs. They work with clients who go from meeting to meeting with very little to no buffers. Instead of leaving one meeting with a few notes rushed and a quick follow-up email before jumping late to the next meeting, they structure their day and meetings to maximize their time.

Here are the goals of your virtual EA when it comes to your busy meeting days, your EA wants you to:

  • Rarely have to book a meeting.
  • Never be double-booked.
  • Go from meeting to meeting fully prepared.
  • Leave the follow-up to them.
  • Review the notes and to-dos in a specific folder or project management software that has been created by them.

Are You the Bottleneck?

If a decision maker is in a meeting it can quickly go off the rails if the decision maker is the bottleneck to the organization. If their team cannot get a hold of them to answer requests or move projects along everyone wants to have their ear during the meeting so they can move tasks/projects along. If you are being asked numerous questions by multiple team members during a meeting, ask yourself “is this part of the agenda for this meeting?” and “are they asking this because I haven’t responded to their email or previous request?” If the answer is yes, it means you are a bottleneck in your organization.

Chances are you will never have a focused meeting again. If you are finding yourself to be the bottleneck your virtual Executive Assistant can manage your email to ensure anything not needing your attention gets removed or answered on your behalf. This leaves only the most pertinent and important communication on your plate and removing the rest.

Your virtual Executive Assistant can also be a gatekeeper to your email and calendar. If your calendar is a free for all, your EA will help you set rules for who gets your time and for how long. They will set time blocks so you can focus on actual work, not just replying to emails and having meetings.

 

Conclusion

If you are sick of meetings, feel like you are in too many or meetings are unproductive your virtual Executive Assistant has vast amounts of experience being a meeting assistant, gatekeeper, calendar manager and email manager to help you gain your time back. If it’s time to get your life and business back under control schedule a call with our team to learn how a virtual Executive Assistant will get you more productive, in less meetings and back to doing what you love.

Derek Burbidge
Manager of Sales & Marketing

Utilizing Your Virtual Executive Assistant as an Online Personal Assistant

Utilizing Your Virtual Executive Assistant as an Online Personal Assistant

If you are looking to find an online Personal Assistant and getting frustrated by the lack of options, you will be happy to know that our virtual Executive Assistants can take on the role of an online Personal Assistant as well.

On top of corporate responsibilities like email and calendar management, travel booking, data entry, research, meeting assistants and the many other administrative tasks they take on, they can also take on personal to-do lists.

It is one thing a lot of our clients ignore delegating for months into their relationship with VEA’s virtual Executive Assistants (EA). Our clients mainly focus on their business-related tasks and don’t utilize their virtual EA as an online Personal Assistant. Once they have the epiphany that their personal tasks are taking too much time and are not necessary for them to complete the tasks start falling off their plate and on to their EA’s.

Their EA is obviously still virtual, but they can handle many of the various tasks on your personal to-do list. An online personal assistant can’t go to the grocery store for you, but they can order groceries or meals and have them delivered to your door.

Typing on a computer

 

Here are a few common tasks our virtual EA’s do for their clients that fall under the umbrella of an online Personal Assistant:

 

Reservations

• Any appointment booking for things like the doctor, dentist, massages, or chiropractors.

Scheduling house cleaners, maintenance people.

Buying gifts for birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, etc.

• Family vacation booking including flights, hotels, excursions, and rental cars.

Keep in mind they are not travel agents but if you give them your choices, they can book directly for you or give them the area you want to go so they can research the top places and run it by you in your 1:1 meeting before going ahead and booking.

Time blocking

This is usually the focus of productivity in your workday but if you need an hour to hit the gym, want to pick up your kids from school or can’t find time for that hobby, let your EA know. They will make sure there are blocks in your calendar for activities that recharge and are important to you.

 

 

Your virtual Executive Assistant can perform many other various tasks to ease your workload. The easiest way to utilize them as a Personal Assistant is to look at your to-do list. You can easily decide what is something an Online Assistant can do and delegate it to them.

 

Tasks of a Virtual Executive Assistant for Business Owners

In many other blog posts, we discuss at a high level what a virtual EA can do for you, but let’s be a bit more specific with examples.

 

Tasks your virtual Executive Assistant can perform:

 

Meeting Assistant – Imagine going from one meeting to the next without having to book them yourself. While at the meeting you will have the notes in front of you so you don’t skip a beat and the minutes taken to review afterwards if needed. Having a meeting assistant will make your meetings more productive and make more space in the rest of your day.

Travel Booking Assistant – Before you travel your virtual Executive Assistant will act as your travel assistant booking flights, hotels, and rental cars. Using your rewards points and preferences for seat location on a plane, type of car to rent and any musts for your hotel. Once we have the information on file, your dedicated EA will never have to ask your preferences again. You give them your travel dates and they will get to booking. Taking yet another time-consuming, tedious task off your plate.

Calendar Manager – Most business owners are sick of booking meetings, being stood up and accidentally double-booking meetings or appointments. With your virtual Executive Assistant taking over your calendar management, all you must do is wake up in the morning and review your day. Pairing your virtual EA’s calendar management abilities with their meeting assistant role, you can move through your day at a steady, flow-like pace, not wasting precious hours on small, administrative tasks.

Email Manager – Email management is the number one task that all our clients hand off to their virtual Executive Assistant. Instead of adding a new email management software to your ever-growing list of new software, having an EA take it over is a much more productive choice. Your EA will delete spam or unwanted emails, respond to emails as needed on your behalf and keep only what is urgent or needs your attention. Instead of waking up to 100 new emails, you will start your day with only what matters.

 

Conclusion

Many Business Owners, C-suite level Executives and Entrepreneurs look for a Corporate Assistant who can do email management, calendar management, book and manage meetings, and become a travel booking assistant. As the role evolves, they get stuck on the executive-level tasks an in office Administrative Assistant would normally do in person. However, they don’t expand the role to their personal lives. If you are missing date nights, buying gifts last minute or living off a fast-food/convenience diet, talk to your virtual EA to learn how they can support you more in these areas.

 

Derek Burbidge
Manager of Sales & Marketing

Busting Top 5 Myths About Outsourcing Bookkeeping Services

Busting Top 5 Myths About Outsourcing Bookkeeping Services

I say it all the time, 99% of business owners did not get into business to do bookkeeping, you got into business to sell your products and services. Bookkeeping is usually the first task to get pushed down your to-do list and the task that gives you the most headaches. Which means, it is the first task that should be outsourced.

But it shouldn’t be outsourced to anyone, the bookkeeper you hire should be experienced and you should understand the fundamentals of bookkeeping. A good bookkeeper will help you understand your financial statements but before you hire you probably have a few questions (or hesitations) about how bookkeeping works, how to find a great bookkeeper and where to even start the process. Let’s break down the top 5 myths of outsourcing bookkeeping.

Image with a calculator and spreadsheet in the background and "myth" written on the front

Myth #1: A Business Owner Should Do Their Own Bookkeeping

True…and false…A business owner will probably start by doing their own bookkeeping but if you don’t complete your bookkeeping according to standardized accounting practices’ and don’t know how to read the financial statements, you should hand it off immediately. Most business owners who engage us to do their bookkeeping usually have the same story: They are spending evenings catching up on receipts, categorizing expenses wrong and spending thousands more on an accountant who has to tidy up at year-end.

If you are not making mistakes and understand how to read the financial statements, great, but your time is still better spent elsewhere doing high-level tasks that grow your business. Your bookkeeping can be done by a professional who checks in to ensure you are sending the documents they need so that when it comes time for you to meet with them to review the statements, they are accurately prepared.

Truth #1: A Business Owner does not need to do their own bookkeeping, however, they do need to hire someone qualified and understand how to read the financial statements.

Myth #2: My Accountant Can Do My Books

At a premium, absolutely they can! Accountant rates are at least double the price of a bookkeeper and many accountants hand-off the bookkeeping to a trained bookkeeper anyway but still charge the accountant rate. (Not so fun fact, many Accountants don’t know how to do bookkeeping.) As mentioned above, if you are using an Accountant to do your books, it is usually done at year-end which gives you 12 months without proper data on how your business is doing. If you prefer higher rates and no financial picture for 12 months, hire an Accountant instead of a Bookkeeper to do your books.

Truth #2: An Accountant can do your books at a much higher rate.

Myth #3: A Bookkeeper Isn’t Trustworthy with My Bank Accounts

No one should have direct access to your bank accounts unless you absolutely trust them and review bank statements separately on your own. A Bookkeeper should have access to your bank account but with limited permissions. By giving them limited permissions this protects both of you. If a Bookkeeper is eager to have your username and password without limited permissions, you should find another Bookkeeper.

To get around having complete access to your accounts, Bookkeepers will receive your financial statements through software like QuickBooks Online (QBO), Zoho or Sage. This is outside of having limited permissions, but using a proper software and giving your Bookkeeper limited permissions means less work for you.

Truth #3: A Bookkeeper doesn’t want or need full access to your bank account.

Myth #4: Virtual Bookkeepers are Less Experienced

True and false. This should be a concern for you so only hire a Bookkeeper with years of experience, comes with references and never sign a long-term contract. Go month to month and if you don’t like what they are doing or feel they don’t know what they are doing, remove their access and move on to someone else.

At VEA Office Professionals, our Bookkeepers have at least 5, but most have 10+ years of experience working with business owners. They have seen it all and are not afraid of messy books. Our team will have your books up to date with financial statements coming out every month, so you know exactly where your business stands financially. Our team is also located across North America, so they understand the expectations of the federal government when it comes to bookkeeping. Whether you need a Bookkeeper in Calgary, a Bookkeeper in Toronto or a Bookkeeper in New York, our team knows the ins and outs to keep you on track and within the laws.

Truth #4: The right Bookkeeper is experienced and will help you grow your business.

Myth #5: I Can’t Send My Receipts to an Outsourced Bookkeeper

With the software that we use, you never have to send a physical receipt to anyone ever again. Dext allows you to take a picture of receipts or forward email receipts or invoices. From there it syncs up to your bookkeeping software, meaning those shoe boxes full of receipts are great but basically obsolete.  It also saves your Bookkeeper time from having to reconcile all your receipts, which saves you money.

Truth #5: You don’t need to send your receipts to your Bookkeeper.

Conclusion:

You should be hesitant about hiring anyone, let alone a virtual Bookkeeper, but you should also be vigilant about ensuring who you hire is certified, experienced and up-to-date on local regulations. If being clear on the financial picture of your business, not having to hand off receipts and not staying up in the evening to complete your books sound too good to be true, book a call with VEA to get back to high-level tasks while trusting that your books are well taken care of.

Derek Burbidge
Manager of Sales & Marketing

 

 

Tips for Maintaining Work-Life Balance Using a Virtual Executive Assistant

Tips for Maintaining Work-Life Balance Using a Virtual Executive Assistant

“Work to live, not live to work.”  How many times have you heard this from friends and family, or have seen this motto on promoted in a meme on social media?  For many Small Business Owners, working to live is easier said than done.  

Let’s face it – if you don’t work to run your business…then there IS NO business.  So, what can you do to turn the tables?  You could go back to a ‘9 to 5’ again…but then again… NOT!  You love your small business and are hungry to make it thrive. Your business is a big part of who you are, and you’re not prepared to give it up, no matter what the cost.  So, then what?  

Maybe it simply means that you need to work smarter, filling your days with the business you love, and less time spent doing business tasks that, while are necessary, are not your jam.

Unorganized computer desk

If you feel like your work-life balance is more off-balance than balanced, it’s time to enlist the help of a Virtual Executive Assistant.

1. Take Back the Night

Or your nights…and your weekends!  As a Small Business Owner, you attend to your core business and the needs of your clients all day.  Your business is all consuming and it’s what pays the bills!  Unfortunately, that may mean you are stuck doing your business administration work after hours, often eating into your much needed free time.  You know – making client invoices, reviewing the day’s emails, basic bookkeeping – that kind of busy work that must be done, but is so time consuming and tedious.

You need and deserve a break!  Hiring a Virtual Executive Assistant could be the solution you are looking for.  By offloading administrative and routine tasks to a Virtual Executive Assistant, you can open time for yourself to make your nights and weekends FUN again.  Finally check out that new restaurant you’ve been wanting to try, escape the city for a weekend, catch-up with friends, go for a run, binge that Netflix series everyone is talking about – the sky’s the limit, and a Virtual Executive Assistant can help take you there by giving you the gift of free time.

At VEA, our Virtual Executive Assistants come to the job ready to work, armed with experience and skills that let them hit the ground running.

2. Get a New Rhythm (And We Don’t Mean Dancing)

As a Small Business Owner, you know that there are administrative tasks that simply must be attended to during working hours.  The problem with these tasks is that they can be noisy and demand immediate attention, cutting into the productive routine of your day.  Answering client inquiries, scheduling appointments, returning routine phone calls – these are just a few of the administrative interruptions that can wreak havoc on the precious time of your daily business.

Yet there is no doubt that the completion of these tasks in a timely manner, while not your core business, are critical to your success.  Why not hand these tasks over to an Virtual Executive Assistant and consider them done!  Our Virtual Executive Assistants are experts at time management, making it easy for them to juggle many balls in the air at the same time.

There also may be personal tasks that need attention during the day, that ever-growing nagging list of to-dos that you can just never get to:

  • making a dentist appointment
  • booking lunch with a friend or colleague
  • finding that perfect gift for your significant other.

These kinds of things are important in your life too, and somehow you need to find the time to get them done.  But like the shoemaker’s kid, they are the last to ‘get the shoes’.

Our Virtual Executive Assistants are double agents and also complete basic Online Personal Assistant tasks.  Having helped other Small Business Owners just like you, our Virtual Executive Assistants can easily slip your personal tasks in amongst your required business administration work.  Not only that, but they also come equipped with tons of experience and may be able to provide you with suggestions or ideas of things they can help you with that you may not have considered.

3. More Time = More Business

Do you ever feel like you are busy all day, jumping from business task to meeting, and back to business task – but you are not making any headway?  Frustrating, right?  

This kind of exhausting, busy tempo is all too familiar with Small Business Owners because there is just so much to do and so little time.  But there is also the possibility that you could need some help with time management.  One of the beauties of having a Virtual Executive Assistant is they are one step removed from your core business, so they can step back and look at the bigger picture of your day with a fresh perspective.  

A Virtual Executive Assistant can help you by managing your busting-at-the-seams calendar, helping to create some much-needed space in your day.  By being mindful of how and when appointments are booked, your Virtual Executive Assistant can create time blocks in your day for focused time.  And focused time is what small business owners need.  Focused time offers you uninterrupted THINKING time, which is what you need to brainstorm ideas to maintain your businesses or push it to the next level. 

Conclusion

So, to summarize, if you are a Small Business Owner who needs help creating more time in your day but are hamstringed by an overload of administrative and personal tasks or by a lack of time in your daily calendar, it’s time to consider getting help.

You know you don’t want to commit to a part-time or full-time salaried employee, so a Virtual Executive Assistant could be just the ticket:  no overhead; on demand and flexible services; experienced, professional, and ready to work.  A Virtual Executive Assistant could mean the difference between you working to live – and not living to work.  And let’s face it, isn’t that what life is all about?

 

Derek Burbidge
Manager of Sales & Marketing

Work/Life Balance Resources (Part 5/5)

Work/Life Balance Resources (Part 5/5)

Our past 4 days have hopefully brought you tons of value and a better perspective on what “work/life balance” looks like for you. Here are a few more internal & external resources to help you out because we do not profess to have it all figured out:

Blog Posts:

Podcasts:

Books:

We sincerely hope this series has helped you. From the EA’s to the bookkeepers, to the CEO of VEA; we all have family time as one of our top core values. As we travel this road we will do everything we can to help you on your journey as well.

If there is anything we can do to help you out, please do not hesitate to reach out.

– Derek Burbidge
Manager of Sales & Marketing for VEA