How Not To Be The Grinch This Holiday Season

The Perfect Gift

Throughout the year, we are in pursuit of impressing our clients with the variety of work we do for them, that extra hour spent making a last minute project look spectacular and effortless. This holiday season should be no different. Why not take that extra bit of time and effort in sending your favorite or most important clients that perfect gift to really show them what they mean to you. It provides a sincere token of your appreciation for them, and also just makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  A win for everyone!

This is not to say that you had better start buying lottery tickets now to afford it, there are all sorts of fun and creative gift ideas out there that will do the trick without breaking the bank. Whatever your budget may be this year, however picky your clients may be, there is always something for everyone. So, unleash your creative side this year and wow your clients with one of these awesome gift ideas!

Friendly disclaimer: Some of these ideas may also work for those office secret Santas or co-worker gift exchanges, as well as a little token of appreciation for your team members!

Customized Chocolates

We all receive loads of sweets and candy during this time of year, but to add a little extra touch to it, why not purchase something custom made with your client in mind? Not only will it serve for a yummy treat, but it shows that you put some extra thought into your gift. Check out Totally Chocolate – they have several pricing options, as well as options for flavor, shape, design, and/or message.

Creative USB Flash Drives

This not only serves as a fun and creative gift idea, but also something incredibly practical for every day use. In today’s technology driven world, having one of these guys handy at all times is almost a necessity. Check out some of these sites that offer custom or funky designed USB drives for purchase. Needing a gift for that secret Santa gift exchange at the office, but chose the one person you know the least about? This is the perfect solution for that!

For character inspired flash drives, Mimoco, or for everything else inspired, check out Custom USB, because let’s face it who DOESN’T want a USB drive in the shape of a robot?

Unique Gifts For The Ones Who Already Have EVERYTHING

We all have that one person in our life who is guaranteed to have every gadget, toy, device or new trendy item known to man. Sometimes it can seem nearly impossible to find the perfect gift for this person, because odds are they already have it. Do not fret, we have found the perfect solution to your gifting dilemma!

If you have an idea as to the likes and dislikes of this client or co-worker, check out Etsy, which is a buy and/or sell website consisting of strictly handmade and vintage items, so you are sure to find something one-of-a-kind (and they also offer gift cards!).

Not really your style? Also check out Uncommon Goods, or Quirky. Both names pretty much speak for themselves, as these companies provide unique, one-of-a-kind items for purchase, that will leave you thinking “Wow, what a cool idea!” They also break it down into categories such as “Smart Home”, “For Him”, “For Her”, or “Health Nut” to help you find just the perfect gift for anyone!

You might also want to check out this article, which includes some pretty darn clever ideas, some of which you will want to keep for yourself! I’ll be right back, I think I hear a virtual blue tooth keyboard calling my name…

Custom Gift Baskets or Gift Jars

While this type of gift has been around for ages, we propose a fun spin on the idea! Instead of purchasing something generic and bland, spruce up any ordinary basket with some custom items that you know your client will love. For the cooking fanatic, fill a festive holiday oven mitt with some kitchen essentials, for the golf pro you might fill their basket with some new golfing accessories, if your client loves wine, instead of just sending them a plain bottle, wrap it in a holiday hand towel tied with ribbon.

Another trend that is becoming a popular gifting idea are sweets in a jar. Fill an ordinary mason jar with some of your tasty homemade holiday cookies and add that extra touch with a custom company or holiday label, some festive ribbon and voila!

 

Gift Cards

While this type of gift may seem to be the last resort or go to item if you’ve waited until the last minute, check out Papery and Cakery, who has provided a creative and fun way to gift a gift card!

In closing, here are some things to keep in mind while contemplating the perfect gift for your favorite clients, co-workers or team!

  • Keep in mind the cultural or religious affiliations of the person you are gifting, as they may not celebrate the same holiday that you do. Since dates of holidays differ, this becomes important if you need to deliver or ship the gift. You will also want to think about this if you’re just sending personalized greeting cards to clients as someone celebrating Hanukkah might find it a little offensive to receive a Merry Christmas card.
  • Personalized gifts are great, but there is also such a thing as too personal. So, unless you know your client or co-worker very well things like alcoholic beverages, gift certificates for massages, or any kind of fragrance or health and beauty items may come off as a bit awkward.
  • Keep the self branding to a minimum – you are giving a gift, not trying to sell them something. We suggest subtle uses such as designing your greeting cards or gift labels with your company colors. We do not suggest giving company promotional items such as T-shirts, pens, coffee mugs, etc. as gifts.
  • There is no need to break the bank with holiday gifting, the meaning behind the gift can be worth more than the price tag.
  • Keep in mind that some clients may take off the week of Christmas, so always try to get their gift delivered or shipped to arrive the week before Christmas.

 

Happy gifting!

5 Email Etiquette Rules to Live By

In today’s world, email is an integral part of most jobs. Quite often it’s the primary form of contact with clients and colleagues.  Following some basic rules of email etiquette will help you maintain a professional reputation.

1. Capitalization, Punctuation & Spelling

Compare:

i recieved the fax today and will drop it by your desk in the am ttys, john

I received the fax today and will drop it by your desk in the morning. — John

Both the above notes are casual, brief memos which convey the exact same information. But in the second note, John comes across as more polished and professional — someone who cares about details.  Will one sloppy email make or break someone’s business reputation?  Of course not.  However, with the large volumes of brief emails and text messages we’re exchanging every day (or every hour!) your grammatical habits will make an impact — positive or negative — on how you are perceived.


2. Timely Replies

Earning a reputation as a procrastinator can be crippling or even deadly to your career.  This is definitely true when it comes to email response time.  We all know the feeling of sending an important email and then checking repeatedly as we hope for a timely response to resolve an issue.  It can be taken as an insult if business emails are not attended to within a reasonable length of time.  Not responding is a response in itself — sending a silent message that you do not have time to take care of business, or something else is more important to you.  In plotting your daily schedule, be sure to allot time to keep your inbox uncluttered.  If you have emails which will require lengthy responses that can or must wait, at least offer the sender a courtesy note acknowledging receipt of their email and assuring them that a thorough response will be forthcoming.


3. Spam is a No No When it Comes to Email Etiquette

Never, never send email “forwards” to clients or colleagues. No jokes, no amazing photos, no warnings about the dangers of aspartame. Never. Ever.

Ever.


4. Blind Carbon Copy

When emailing a list of individuals, consider others’ privacy and take care to utilize the “bcc” function in your email header.  Most people are guarded with their email addresses and share only with those necessary. This is a huge pet peeve of mine as well, so please consider this one of the most important rules of email etiquette.


5. Reply-All

When responding to an email that has been sent to several individuals, don’t choose  “Reply-All” unless this has been specifically requested by the sender.  If it is necessary to include all recipients in your response, keep your response brief and on-topic, and only reply once to the thread if at all possible.  As we work to achieve inbox zero,  “Reply-All” emails that include clever quips, and replies to quips, and replies to the replies to the quips will quickly cause annoyance.

 

If you have any questions about how to do any of the things above please feel free to contact us for more information.

 

Please add any other rules or suggestions in the comments below. 

 

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Saving Money with a VA

Do You Need A Virtual Assistant?

Running a small business means you have a lot on your plate. How can you maximize your earning potential while still reining in operating costs? Partner with a virtual assistant! How often have you sat at your desk, stared at your mound of paperwork and thought wistfully about hiring an assistant–only to have second thoughts because of the cost? A virtual assistant is an independent contractor. This means that you won’t pay for employee taxes, employee life & health benefits, 401K’s, coffee breaks, employee social time, sick days, and vacation days. Since you are dealing with an experienced professional, you won’t pay for training, either. This gives you more time to devote to your clients, more money to market your business and more freedom to focus on your company’s vision.

An experienced VA to call on in time of need or to build a long-term relationship provides peace of mind. One of the most exciting things about having a virtual assistant to collaborate and partner with is that they have a vested interest in your business. Your success is their success!

 

Your Team of Experts

Having a virtual assistant is like having an entire team of experts at your disposal. Your VA can handle tasks like bookkeeping, transcription, social media marketing, print media, branding, reservations and event planning and many other virtual concierge services, document formatting, website building, blog planning, and search engine optimization. All of this is work that is now off your plate.

In addition, your virtual assistant probably has many business connections. Your VA may adeptly manage your on-the-road coaching schedule, but perhaps she doesn’t do bookkeeping. Chances are, though, that she knows a great bookkeeper to fill that job for you.

If you find yourself buried in paperwork or with a long undone to-do list, try partnering with a virtual assistant and feel the difference. You may only need one hour of help a month, or you may need over ten hours a week. Whichever is the case, you are sure to save money working with a VA. Don’t hesitate to take that step today. Get it off your plate and out of your mind!

Do you work with a virtual assistant?

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A Virtual Assistant Supports Virtually Any Industry

People all over the world contract VAs daily on a short or long-term basis to help them with routine tasks and special projects. As a busy professional, you need more time to focus on the things that you do best. Let your Virtual Assistant focus on the rest.

 

Some examples of the various industries that are using virtual assistants are:

  • Realtors – You need flyers to show off your listings! There are several sample flyers in the links on the left side of the page.
  • Therapists – Your Virtual Assistant will set up an automatic online calendar for you that is HIPAA secure and very private. Your clients will be automatically emailed the day before their appointments. Your VA will also manage print technology like business cards and brochures.
  • Dentists – VA’s provide a simple after-hours service that is ideal for a dentist. If you’re interested get in touch to learn all about it.
  • Physicians – We do transcription from both voice files and written files.
  • Writers – A Virtual Assistant will proofread, format, schedule book signings, work with publishers and manage all of your social media needs.
  • Professional Speakers – Some VA’s love to create presentations on PowerPoint, Keynote and Prezi.
  • Churches – To connect with their communities, churches need interactive websites and social media outreach.
  • Life or Professional Coaches – Your VA can help you with scheduling clients, speaking engagements, email as well as voicemail management.
  • Salon Owners – A Virtual Assistant can set up a website to show off your awesome portfolio and help you increase your salon’s customer base.
  • CPAs – Help with data entry, bookkeeping and much more allow a CPA to stay on top of their busy office tasks.
  • We even assist other Virtual Assistants with their own clients and day-to-day operations.

The list is practically endless because anyone can use a VA. Let your VA manage the burden of your administrative tasks. We look forward to hearing from you!

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What is a Virtual Assistant?

Do You Need A Virtual Assistant For Your Business?

I often hear the question ‘You do what?’ So, I thought I’d take the opportunity to explain more about what a Virtual Assistant can do for a business.

A Virtual Assistant is essentially an administrative consultant or a partner who can multitask and get things done for you. This is a partner who is also available to advise you about tweaking your business so that it is more streamlined and efficient. If you own or manage a business, but find that you are spinning your wheels in the sand each month trying to get all the administrative details done, enter the VA. Since VAs provide services remotely, but only when you need them, hence you WILL additionally save time and money.

 

Your virtual assistant will partner with you in these areas:

  •  Email support
  • Calendar management
  • Appointment setting – This isn’t actually a typical thing a virtual assistant takes on and is often better handled by someone there in your office or a call center, but if it doesn’t require live calling, some virtual assistants will be able to handle this task.
  • Database support – Many virtual assistants really shine in this area.
  • Social media support – Your virtual assistant may not be a marketing guru, but she can likely help you keep a consistent presence in social media.
  • Hardware advice – Need a new computer, your virtual assistant is no stranger to the internet and can build a comparison document for you or spreadsheet if needed to help you find the best tech at the best price.
  • Smartphone setup – This isn’t for everyone but definitely something that I have found myself doing on a regular basis for clients whether in person or over the phone.

 

And many other more specialized areas as well…

  • Web development
  • Internet research
  • Data entry
  • SEO
  • Automation
  • Streamlining
  • Video editing
  • Proofreading
  • Ghost writing
  • Graphic design
  • Liaison for clients or with other businesses
  • Correspondence
  • Speaking engagements
  • Blogging
  • Transcription
  • Bookkeeping

This list is by no means exhaustive list and while any administrative work can be done remotely, this is a specialized service. Not all virtual assistants are created equally so don’t settle, remember you get what you pay for. Working with someone remotely may take some getting used to, but soon you will not remember what life was like without a virtual assistant.

A virtual assistant is also the ideal solution for businesses that need full- or part-time office assistant, but don’t want to pay for office space, furniture, computers, coffee breaks, benefits, taxes and vacation? With virtual assistant services, you’ll pay a flat rate regardless of how long the work actually takes. Since you will be saving on regular in office expenses you will be able to afford the best virtual assistant.

Whew! Seriously? You ask! That’s right and the benefits are too many to count. A virtual assistant is THE solution for small business and office management.

Have you used a virtual assistant? If so, what has your experience been?

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More Reasons To Work With A Virtual Assistant

Do you need more reasons to work with a virtual assistant?

Your business is a living, growing thing and needs to be nurtured, and weeded (like a garden sometimes). As your business grows, so do your strengths in the main focus of your business. And as your business grows, so do your weaknesses in the areas that a virtual assistant can come alongside of you and help you to complete your vision.

  • Manage the mounds of incoming emails that you have in your inbox
  • Set up a calendar that automatically reminds you of important and routine upcoming appointments
  • Create an email campaign to market your business
  • Submit a press release
  • Create a PowerPoint, Keynote or Prezi presentation
  • Beef up the search engine recognition for your website
  • A Virtual Assistant can transcribe your notes or recordings
  • Type the minutes from your last meeting
  • Edit and proofread your documents
  • Ghost write your novel
  • Create spreadsheets
  • Compile statistics
  • Research the market or a product

 

And as your business grows, you will need a virtual assistant to:

  • Book your speaking engagements
  • Arrange your travel and create your itinerary
  • Reserve a table at your favorite restaurant
  • Create your business cards, flyers, brochures and letterhead
  • Put together a website
  • Research that big purchase you’re thinking about
  • Arrange domain name and hosting packages
  • Convert documents to PDFs
  • Confirm your appointments
  • Open and sort your mail
  • Handle a bulk mailing
  • Set up an online workspace for your business
  • Create your labels
  • A virtual assistant isn’t reserved for business only. We can also help create a family calendar to simplify your time off work.
  • And any other administrative task that you just don’t have time to deal with or don’t want to deal with.

A virtual assistant loves her work and does it with excellence. Virtual assistants  have been in the administrative business for many years and look forward to serving you in any administrative capacity that you need. Contact us today!