When it comes to starting your work at home business, few things are more intimidating than creating your very own website – especially if you don’t know your way around the technical side of things. While there are many terrific options out there for new or inexperienced business owners, getting started can have some hassles.
There are a few steps you can take to make your cyber home comfortable and cozy. Start by purchasing your very own web domain. With so many websites offering “free” domain names, this may sound silly to spend money on.
But many of these sites are really just giving you a subdomain for example: mybusinesssite.whatever.com. Not only is that difficult to remember for consumers, but if your customers mistype your site address, they could land on a site that’s offensive or contains a virus costing you valuable clients.
Buying your own domain name immediately gives your site credibility in the eyes of web visitors. While you’re at it, avoid free hosting. When you use free hosting (examples: blogger.com, wordpress.com, webs.com, etc.) your site is bound by another company’s terms of service.
Let’s say you’re running a health and beauty business and your website is being freely hosted. Now let’s say this free host provider suddenly has an influx of spammers taking over the health and beauty category.
Suddenly, your top notch website is mistakenly labeled spam and you log on one day to find it’s disappeared deleted without warning. Your existing customers don’t know where to find you online and you’re losing out on potential customers and sales.
If you can afford it, pay for hosting. You’ll rest easy at night knowing you won’t wake up tomorrow to find the website you worked so diligently on suddenly deleted. While you should be paying for hosting, you shouldn’t have to go broke paying for it.
Expect to pay between four and ten dollars per month for hosting. If you pay more than that, then you’re overpaying. If you pay less than that, then read the fine print very carefully.
Once you have a domain and hosting, how can you build a professional looking site with correct search engine optimization that attracts thousands of visitors each day? While you can certainly pay a web designer for a fancy site with all the bells and whistles, you don’t have to.
You can research free open source software for building your very own website. These software packs even include professional templates for you to use. Some suggested open source software is WordPress, Joomla and others. All are great options to use for your website. And if you get a host that has Cpanel, then installing your new software will be a breeze!
How many times have we all said, “If only I had more time then I could get more done in my online business?” The solution is not getting more time – we all have the same amount. The key is to manage the time we do have and make it work more effectively for us.
Even if you think you don’t have time to take on anything else, you might be surprised to discover how much time you’re actually wasting during the day. You can start an online business whether you hold down a full time job or not.
Sometimes when it comes to starting a business, many people have the mental picture that it’s all or nothing – that in order to be their own boss, they have to take the plunge, quit their day job and put all of their effort into building an online business.
If you have a day job that pays the bills and provides you with health benefits, keep the job while you work on launching and growing your business part time. You can get up an hour earlier in the mornings to work on your business.
You can spend your lunch hour working on the business. Since your job will be online, you’ll be able to access it anywhere. If you commute to work via train or other method where someone else is in charge of driving, you can work on it then, too.
You can also temporarily give up the hours you used to spend sitting in front of the television. You can give up one hour of sleep at night to work on the business and work two weekends a month.
It seems like a lot of time, but if you work it around your day job and stick with it, you can steadily increase your income with the online business until you can comfortably afford to let go of the job you now have.
For some reason, let’s suppose you’re in a position now where you can no longer wait to leave your day job – it’s become unbearable, the stress is going to wreak too much havoc, or there’s something to cause you abandon your current career now.
Suddenly, you find yourself having the same forty plus hours you gave at the office to work on your online business. Always begin right away. If you start out working your online business when you feel like it, you could lose valuable initiative. Let the excitement drive you and propel you forward.
With the benefit of working your online business full time, you’ll be able to devote the steady attention the business needs to continually grow. Rather than squeezing it into the schedule, you’ll have the time you need.
It’s not so much about finding the time as it is taking the time and if you’ve always wanted to start your own online business, there’s no better time than this moment. Today will soon be yesterday and you won’t ever get that opportunity back.
There are some facts about multitasking that have been proven by science. Once you see the facts, you’ll realize that you need to stop multitasking now if you want to truly boost not only your productivity but also the quality of your work.
When we try to do more than one task at a time, we really do not focus on the tasks very well. In fact, we focus half on one and half on the other. Remember that switching between tasks isn’t multitasking – it’s switching. Then when you switch back, you have to take the time again to get back on track with what you were doing to start with. (brainfacts.org)
There is one exception to the above and that comes with developing habits. One good example is driving. When you first start driving you have a hard time steering, working the break, the gas, and paying attention. But, after a while as you gain experience, you don’t even remember the commute home from work. This is because driving becomes a habit. But don’t add in things that keep your eye off the road, or you’ll interrupt the habit. (livescience.com)
Forcing your brain to switch from one thing to another that’s in a totally different context is actually very taxing. It can increase stress, and confusion. If you’ve ever met an “absent-minded professor” type of person, it will seem as if their lights are off when you ask them a question. But, in truth they’re just trying to switch context in their brain.
It takes time to switch, especially if you were focused at first. Doing this over and over, as is the case with multitasking, is very difficult for the human brain to do. It will cut down on not only productivity but also the quality of the work completed. (sciencefriday.com)
Short-Term Memory Issues
Scientists at the University of Michigan and the University of California agree that multitasking can also stress the brain so much that it can cause short-term memory problems. If you find yourself not being able to remember things, and have important issues falling through the cracks, consider whether or not you are biting off more than you can chew and trying to do too much at once.
There Is No Such Thing as a Good Multitasker
Researchers at the National Academy of Sciences (NASS) conducted studies that showed that even people who believe they are “good” at multitasking, and do it every day, are bad at it. Not only that – the people who actually do multitask most are reducing their productivity by about 50 percent by continuing to multitask.
People who believe they are bad at multitasking try to avoid it, but people who think they’re good at it consider it a skill. One, ironically, that they’re actually not good at.
Children Do Poorly at Homework While Watching TV
Homework, studying, and TV don’t go together. In fact, anyone (including students) should find ways to focus 100 percent on anything they want to learn and retain. Just getting it done while watching TV, texting, and doing other thing costs students dearly in terms of understanding subject matter and test performance. (NASS)
It all comes down to the fact that if you want to do something right, you need to focus on it 100 percent. You’ll increase productivity and produce a higher level of quality than you can if you’re insistent on multitasking. The bottom line is, focus, and learn how to do your best at each thing you do.
Contracting with a virtual assistant is an important way for a small business to deal with their non-money making tasks. VAs usually do administrative and technical tasks that either you can’t do or don’t have time to do, or that are not your main source of income. Here are ten reasons why you could need a VA for your business.
1. Your Workload Is Too High
If you find yourself working day in and day out, you need to find someone to help you. Remember why you started your own business? You started it because you wanted freedom. Now you probably feel chained to your desk. You’re starting to experience success but it’s starting to take over your life.
2. You Put Off Important Admin Tasks
You’re so busy doing billable work that important admin tasks such as customer service and bookkeeping are put off until it’s so overwhelming you don’t even want to do it. This is dangerous because you cannot know how well your business is doing without doing the books and admin tasks.
3. You Are Spending Too Much Time on Non-Money Making Tasks
You’re keeping up with the administrative work, but you are spending more than 10 hours a week doing it. These hours could be spent doing tasks that make you money instead. If you can earn $140 an hour, why are you doing tasks that could be done for $20 to $50 an hour?
4. You Are Stressed Out
You find your business a drudge and you’re no longer having fun. You catch yourself looking at want ads and fantasizing about not having so much responsibility. Your health is suffering and you don’t have time to exercise or eat right.
5. You’re Working More than 40 Hours a Week
As a business owner, you knew you’d have to work long hours in the beginning. However, if you’re working more than 40 hours a week, you need to find someone to help you. Figure out how many hours of your work is billable versus non-billable. The non-billable amount is how much help you need from a VA.
6. You Don’t Want to Train People
Hiring an employee comes with training but hiring a VA doesn’t. You hire one or more VAs who have experience and specialize in the things that you don’t know how to do. You’ll gain their expertise once you hire them.
7. You Don’t Want an Employee
Hiring an employee comes with a lot of paperwork and government regulation. When you bring on a contractor they do their job without training, use their own tools, and meet your deadlines in their own time.
8. You Don’t Know How to Do Something
If you need work done that you really don’t know how to do, and it will take you more time due to having to learn it, you’re better off having someone else who is an expert do it for you. They’ll do it a lot faster than you can, and during the time you are wasting time trying to learn, you could be earning money.
9. Your Business Is Growing
You’re building your business and it’s growing fast and steady. Each week you have more work to do than last week. You’re getting to the point of overflow. Contracting with a VA will help you manage the growth easier.
10. You Realize Others Can Do the Tasks
Once you realize that others can do the task that you’re struggling doing, both in skill level and the time you have to work on it, you’ll be able to let go and let someone else help you.
Virtual assistants can screen your emails, respond to some of them, send you only the ones that you need to respond to personally, schedule and confirm appointments, book travel, make calls for you, conduct research, fill out reports, create invoices, post invoice payments, and manage projects for you that other contractors are working on.
Working with a VA can free up your time to focus on the things that make you the most money instead of the unbillable admin work, giving you more time to focus on taking on more billable work.
Before you hire a VA, look at some of the common mistakes made when doing so. By understanding the common mistakes you can ensure that your VA experience will be successful instead of stressful.
1. Not Understanding What Work You Need Completed
Before even placing an advertisement for a VA, you need to write down the types of work you need to outsource. Remember at first to only write down things that do not directly earn money. You should keep doing the core work that you are known for, and let the VA do the supportive tasks.
2. Not Reviewing Their Work Regularly
Once you do hire someone, it’s important to review their work on a regular basis so that you are assured that it’s up to your level. Plus, it will give you peace of mind to know that the work is indeed really done.
3. Not Providing Feedback
Be sure to provide your VA regular feedback. The best way to do it is to first tell them what they did well, and then tell them where they can improve, and leave it with something else good. This will help your VA tremendously.
4. Not Having a System in Place
It’s imperative that you have a system in place to help you assign tasks, and for your VA to receive them without having to deal with email. A good system to use is Basecamp.com, and some people really love Teamwork.com too.
5. Failing to Set Expectations
It’s important to let your VA know what you expect from them from day one. Establishing the right boundaries and the right expectations will go far in helping you and your new VA work well together. For example, if you prefer the VA to just do the tasks you give him or her and no more, say so. If you want them to make suggestions, let them know.
6. Not Realizing That You Get What You Pay For
There is a movement out there, as you’re likely aware, to hire VAs for next to nothing and well below minimum wage of most industrialized countries. This is a very bad practice to get involved with as the work will not be as good as if you hired someone who is experienced and an expert in their field, who charges professional rates.
7. Not Giving the VA Time to Acclimate
Many VAs can get up and running pretty fast, but every new contract takes time to get to understand and mesh with the rhythm of the new arrangement. Don’t give up too fast. Give it 60 to 90 days to ensure you’ve given it all that you can to make it work.
8. Not Letting Them Do Their Work Their Way
Micromanaging is the worst thing you can do. If you contract with a social media VA who is an expert in their field, don’t tell them how to do the work. Instead, tell them what your expectations are and what the deliverables will be. What work will be “turned in” to you at the end? What reports will be shown to demonstrate the success of the work completed?
9. Treating the VA Like an Employee
A VA is not an employee and you cannot call on them in the same way you would if you had a secretary in the front office to do your bidding at any moment. You’ll need to work within their system too. They may have a 48-hour time limit for work deadlines, or they might require you to give them all their work for the week by a certain date and schedule phone calls. And yes, they’re going to charge you for every phone call, and every moment they work on your business. Be prepared for that.
10. Not Giving Clear Instructions and Deadlines
When you give work to your VA, it should include very clear instructions along with a strict deadline. They should know what they need to deliver to you and when. They should not have to ask a hundred questions about each assignment. You should try to answer everything up front. But, do be available for questions so your VA can work efficiently.
If you can avoid these common mistakes when hiring a virtual assistant, you will be that much more likely to enjoy working with your VA and he or she will enjoy working with you.
You’ve likely heard of Olivia Pope – the fictional character who fixes everything on the top-rated TV show Scandal. Something embarrassing is threatened to come out and she does what needs to be done to cover it up or spin and change the story to something more positive and flattering.
Online reputation management might not be as dramatic, but it’s very much the same type of thing. There is information about you and/or your business out there that you’d rather not be made public, but it shows up on search engines and now you need to bury it.
Don’t worry; you don’t have to be as diabolical as Olivia Pope’s “family” to bury negative information online. There are ethical ways to manage your online reputation. Not only that – these are things you should do anyway if you want to be run a successful business today. Let’s talk about the different types of information that can be found online about you that you want covered up or buried.
Images You or a Friend Posted
Sometimes when we are young, or drunk, we do things that are regretful. If you have posted the image you can remove it, but more than likely someone downloaded it and saved it. You’re essentially out of luck. You can email anyone you know who has the image and ask them to delete it. Then, ask your friends and family not to post certain types of images of you in the future.
Comments You Made That Showed a Dark Side
A customer spouted off to you in a rude way and you just lost it and made some derogatory or defensive comments that do not show your best side or put your business in the best light. If you have the ability to delete your comments that’s a good start, but an apology also goes a long way. If you can humble yourself and tell the person you’re sorry as well as any readers, before deleting, that might be a better course of action due to the fact that you really cannot delete something like that without it causing a stir too. You can bet someone took a screen shot.
Erroneous Information Posted by a Competitor
When you see a concerted effort by your competitor to lie about you, and maybe even slander you, you’ll need to choose a course of action that works. In some cases things will blow over if you ignore it. In others, especially when it comes to online slander and bullying, you’re going to need to take legal action. That might at first blow up the situation though, so you need to be sure the law is really on your side before acting.
You May Need Your Own Olivia Pope
Ok, hopefully you won’t hire someone who is adept at torture and slashing people’s throats, but in serious cases you may need to hire a firm that specializes in online reputation management and let them take control of managing your online reputation. A firm will help you figure out how you can actually remove things from the net, and how you can bury it in the fastest manner possible while also being ethical.
Online reputation management can not only be used to manage negative aspects of the net, but it can also help boost the positive aspects of the net. Keeping your reputation intact is really only part of the issue. It’s also important to use the internet to its fullest potential for your business needs. Practicing online reputation management can do all that and more.