Do you prefer DIY or DFU? Here is my analysis! Watch this video and share with us - which team do you relate to?

 

We’ve come across entrepreneurs who needed help delegating tasks. However; they were not sure what tasks can be delegated to a virtual employee. Thanks to the internet and the development of online tools, remote workers are now capable of doing more than ever before by knowing the tasks that you can delegate to your virtual employee.

Virtual Staff and remote workers have helped businesses grow by managing tasks from answering phone calls, accountings, setting appointments, taking care of their social media presence, and a whole lot more. They helped entrepreneurs free their time so they can dedicate more time to develop their business more.

In a previous article – How to Delegate Tasks – we have outlined the important steps a business owner has to take before assigning tasks to their staff. But how do you know which tasks you need help with? As a guide, you can ask yourself these questions and make a list:

  1. What repetitive tasks am I doing on a daily basis? We are not even aware sometimes but there are a lot of repetitive tasks we are doing everyday eat up so much of our time. Things like checking voicemails, returning phone calls, replying to emails, managing your calendar etc. Imagine how much time you can take back when you hire an employee who can do this on your behalf.
  2. What are the things I can’t do or don’t do well? Perhaps you needed an expert to help you with some things? A virtual employee might be an answer to that.

Now that you have the list, you can then categorize them according to your virtual staff’s role and the level of difficulty. To guide you further, here are the common roles that a virtual employee can perform for your business:

  1. General virtual employee – Tasks would include: responding to emails, receptionist duties handling inbound and outbound calls, booking appointments, calendar management, taking minutes of the meeting, database building and file management, bookkeeping, email management, chat management, personal errands like booking flights and reminders etc., Proofreading documents, internet research, creating reports, transcription, simple eBook layout/formatting, forms creation, data mining/lead generation
  2. Social Media Marketing Virtual Employee – open social media accounts in different platforms (I.e., Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn), planning and posting “sticky” content, research strategies to increase traffic to the website and the social media platforms, writing, editing and sharing blog posts
  3. Real Estate Virtual Employee – (we would like to note that there are distinct kinds of real estate virtual employees however, we will outline some generic roles just to give you an idea). Setting up and confirming client appointments, prepare the marketing material, enter new data in MLS, proofread and edit images for listings, handle feedback from buyers or buyer’s agent, creating newsletters, post and manage ads on Craigslist or similar sites, respond to email and phone general inquiries, preparing and filing paperwork, follow-up with prospective buyers or tenants,

Other tasks:

  1. Dropbox/Google Drive Organization
  2. Creating or Managing Spreadsheets
  3. Preparing PowerPoint presentations
  4. PDF conversion, splitting and merging.
  5. Moderating blog comments
  6. Checking voicemail
  7. Sending client invoices
  8. Basic editing of audio and video files
  9. Podcast setup
  10. Copywriting
  11. Keyword research for blog content
  12. Competitor analysis
  13. Designing logos and banners
  14. Designing infographics or images
  15. Training of new virtual staff

In HireSmart Virtual Employees, we provide a step by step guide in helping you make the most of your virtual staff starting with choosing the right one and even help with pre-training them as well! Book a free call with us to find out how.

I absolutely love this time of year. As we transition from one year to the next, it is a time of reflection, a time of new beginnings, and a time to do things differently.

5 years ago, I remembered thinking that I needed a significant change in my life. My Marketing Manager of over 4 years quit via text on my first vacation in 7 years the year before, and it was a revolving door to find quality help. I was burned out, frustrated, and knew that if I kept doing business the same way, I was going to decide to quit myself, and all my hard work the past 14 years would have faded away.

I had gotten introduced to the concept of full time dedicated help from the Philippines, and I was intrigued. I took 6 months to research everything. We looked at other countries and evaluated price points, language, culture, and determined that the large fortune 500 companies like Chase Financial, ATT, Verizon, Dell, and many others. I figured they had more resources to evaluate these things better than I did.

At the time, I knew I wanted to protect myself against employee payroll taxes and benefits. I didn’t want there to be any question about whether we were hiring another employee disguised as an “independent contractor.” Yet, I wanted the control and commitment of an employee, so I needed a staffing company.

I searched and interviewed several and came across 5Star who seemed just to fit. They had similar goals and philosophy to ours. And I took the leap to hire my first full-time virtual employee (VE). After working with 5Star for a while, we decided to join forces. Neil, Mark & I formed a formal arrangement and HireSmart Virtual Employees was born. We started helping friends find amazing people and it worked great for everyone. Those first VEs that my first client hired are still working for them today 4.5 years later.

We certainly have grown a lot, learned a lot, and this year we actively employ over 165 workers. We have several businesses, but only 1 employee to do the things that need to be done physically. Interestingly, she has been out for the past 2 weeks on medical leave. My husband & I am absorbing her role while she is out.  I was a little worried about how I was going to manage, but I am happy to say, while a little stressful at times, my virtual staff handled most of the heavy lifting so I am free to continue doing what I like to do.

Some people think that hiring VEs should be like an automated machine. More AI than VE. I disagree. I think hiring virtually should be done as with much care as hiring an employee. They need to be screened, properly vetted, trained, coached and mentored just like your local hires. The difference is we help our clients find the best matches, and we provide coaching and support along the way when there are challenges. We are dealing with human capital and so there are always going to be personal trials that come into play. We help our clients get to the finish line faster with less wasted time.

My hope for you as we enter into 2020 is that you get to do more of the things that you like to do. That you find the peace that I did. I found mine through transitioning to a virtual workforce and helping others to do it as well.

One of the changes that I am making in 2020 is to communicate more. If you like what you are reading – I hope you will email me and share your insight with me.

For those of you who are interested in taking a step to find out if virtual employees are for you, I would encourage you to book a call with me and let’s chat to see if this would change your life like it did mine 5 years ago when I hired Theriza.

 

To provide you with helpful tips and tricks and meaningful content, I wanted to share with you some things that I have found have helped me in managing and getting the most out of my virtual employees (VE).

#1 – Have clear expectations of what you want from them.

Do you have set KPI’s (key performance indicators) for their role? Have you shared your expectations with your virtual employee? Are you giving them weekly feedback on how they are doing?

When talking with leaders & managers, I find that many times expectations are not clearly defined. I know I used to not be super clear in expectations back in the day. Often, we are so busy keeping the boat from filling up and drowning us that is becomes a low priority. Now, in my business, we have very clear priorities and KPIs for each role in the organization. This has really helped me understand the value that my virtual staff members bring to me and my organization every day.

It is almost impossible for anyone to meet an expectation that has never been communicated to them. This applies to staff, friends, & significant others. Your virtual staff has been trained and conditioned to give you a daily recap of their progress for the day. Take a minute and read the report. Are you happy with it? If not, ask them to track what is important. If you see a particularly productive day – tell them. Which brings me to the next tip.

#2 – Appreciate your Staff

Your virtual staff wants you to be happy with them and their performance. Make sure you share some of the successes with them.

For me this was a particularly challenging task. In the beginning, I actually had to put it in my calendar to provide positive feedback weekly to get me in the habit. (Please don’t judge me – I am a very busy “D” personality who used to believe that if I wasn’t complaining – it was OK and everyone should certainly understand that.)

Theriza my very first virtual employee really helped me grow in this area. She needed more positive feedback and basically forced me into the habit. I am thankful she did. It has made me more aware of my communication style and allowed me to be a better overall person because of it. Now I am still not the flowery language type, but I do make an effort to provide both positive feedback as well as corrective feedback.

Don’t be like that friend, family member or customer who only calls to complain. Remember that they are people just like you and sometimes a nice pat on the back goes a long way to building a great relationship.

#3 – Provide constructive criticism

At some point, your virtual employee is going to make a mistake. It is inevitable. I certainly make my fair share of them too. How you handle it will determine the quality of the working relationship you have with you virtual employee and the rest of your staff.

When my virtual employee makes a mistake, I categorize it into 1 of 2 categories. A training issue on my part or a flaw in the execution on his/her part.

Training issues. Most of the time when my virtual employee makes a mistake it is because I had a flaw in my process, training, or communication. These mistakes help me refine my skills as a manager and help me be a better business owner. I look at the hole in the system, repair it and move on.

An example of this might be. My virtual employee tells a prospective applicant that the home is available when in fact, a qualified applicant recently secured the home. I break down the flaw. Did my internal people update the spreadsheet? Did we not communicate to take it off market? Where was the breakdown? Once I determine the breakdown, I can fix it. Advise my virtual employee of the new process and evaluate the new process.

But let’s say using the example above, we followed the process and she just missed it. We are all prone to error. I would ask her – why did she not review the information before frustrating a potential tenant? I would continue to ask questions until I fully understood what happened. Maybe she was tired, having a bad day or whatever the issue was. I then share that providing accurate information is really important to me and ask her what can she do to help make sure that this doesn’t happen again?

I involve her in the training and process development to help her problem solve herself. She learns from it and sometimes she has a better idea of a way it can be handled. Allowing your virtual employee to be part of the troubleshooting process can have huge rewards.

Make your virtual employee a valuable member of your team. Engage them in your business. Give them ownership of their tasks and expect greatness.

For over 2 years now, we have been helping clients find and select quality virtual employees. It has been an honor to help our US clients find quality staff and to help our virtual employees find reputable clients and long-term careers. If you ever have a question or concern about your virtual staff, please reach out to me. I am here to help you. You don’t have to figure it out on your own.

To your success!

Anne Lackey
Co-Founder – HireSmart Virtual Employees

Many times, we often hear the phrase ‘Do the Impossible!’ But is it beneficial to execute a backbreaking work to secure and measure productivity effectively? Whether you manage a huge enterprise or a startup, ideally, reaching goals is an intrinsic part of growth. We are going to share with you some of our best tips to measure productivity. Whether monitoring in-house or remote staff, having clear KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) will help move the needle of your business.

Focusing on the tasks that will create the impact can also be difficult unless you set the standard. Therefore, it is important to clearly communicate those goals and standards to your team and regularly monitor them.

For a business focused on developing growth, here are 3 elements to effectively measure productivity:

The Clock Isn’t Always the Basis:

 Time well spent is more important than the volume of time for certain tasks. While certainly, time management is a very important skill, some tasks clearly require mental processing. These types of task cannot be rushed as if they are, the outcome will not be optimal. Understanding what the best outcome is for the time spent, is a much better measurement of productivity than breaking down the task into a minute by minute increments. Judge the results of the labor and not the amount of time spent.

Woman with Laptop at Home

 The good old 80/20 rule applies in every area of life but is very important in business. Approximately 20% of what you do impacts 80% of your end result. Stephen Covey talks about spending time in the Important/Non-Urgent category of tasks. It is important to recognize this while measuring your productiveness. For example, if 20% of what you do is training people, establishing a good connection to the team, and sharing best practices, you’ll have the chance to influence them towards success by multiplying the values and the productivity of the business. It also allows you and your staff to have an approach of working on things that have the highest return on their investment of time. Busy does not equal production in most cases.

Keep Track of Everything:

 By tracking the time spent and the results of the day, it allows each of us to make sure we are spending our time wisely. Each day our virtual staff provide us with a written report that helps us track their performance and allows us to see how productive they have been each day. Are they accomplishing the objectives?

 KPIs need to be reviewed regularly. They need to reflect the overall goals of the position. For our business, we review then at least quarterly since the economic environment changes fairly rapidly.

Achieving your business goals is the primary objective. Human capital is one of your largest investment of resources. It is important to make sure that you have policies and procedures in place to measure the effectiveness of you and your team.

 If you have ever wondered how we run 7 businesses while maintaining our sanity – schedule a call to see if we can help you get out of the weeds and have more of a life. Cheers!

In today’s world, good communication skills are necessary for the business owner and their staff – whether internal or virtual. Yet, good communication is an art that needs to be practiced and refined. In fact, if we really give attention to the people we talk to, it becomes clear that we can learn from each other just by having a normal conversation if we first seek to understand.

Although there are many principles involved in good communication skills, we wanted to highlight the important ones for you. Here are some factors of good communication skills:

Listen Attentively



A good reporter knows how to listen. Of course, nobody wants to spend their time talking to someone that doesn’t give their attention to what you’re saying so be present at the moment and give your full attention. Stop all your other tasks and ask relevant questions to assure understanding. Conversely, you don’t have to focus too much on what you’re going to say next after listening, instead, you can exchange thoughts by responding relevantly and smoothly.

Eye Contact

For important conversations have them face to face if possible. We work with clients who have virtual staff located around the world. When there is an important conversation, hop on Skype and have a video call. This allows you to better connect than over email or messaging. Eye contact is the first to communicate your thoughts which serve as the window for your feelings toward your interest in a conversation.

Be Clear & Concise



Too often people say what they think you want to hear rather than delivering a clear message. Making your point in a roundabout way can confuse the conversation. If need the other person to understand, then speak plainly and ask for understanding. This is different from being blunt and rude. You want to deliver your message in a way that is easily understood and then allow the other person to respond.

Appreciate

Once you have had the conversation, appreciate where they are coming from and share your appreciation with them. Whether you are the initiator or receiver, good communication is a gift. When we are able to have a clear understanding of each other’s perspectives, we can begin to develop deeper relationships even when we agree to disagree. We are all different. We have different social upbringing, different cultures, different communication styles. This is what makes a stronger organization. Understanding and appreciating our difference, allows us to work more effectively together.

Take time to develop your ability to connect to people by collecting a few ideas from this article. Gain more confidence by practicing and expanding your social circles, and as you go along, you’ll find it simple to connect with just about anyone in any situation. This strength will then take you towards an abundance of new opportunities that would not have been available otherwise. That’s the advantage of good communication skills.

If you'd like to learn more about how virtual employees can help increase your business productivity, feel free to book an appointment with me today and I'll help you all throughout the process.

Why should we concern ourselves with employee retention? The cost for re-hiring is very high. It is much more cost-effective to keep your staff if possible.

Employee retention is a strategy that supports employees/staff to keep them engaged and productive with the company for a longer period of time. We not only need to take care of our customers but we also must make sure the people who serve our customers are happy and loyal.

Clearly, we should not retain staff members who are not performing at work, yet unplanned and frequent employee turnover is generally seen as bad for the business. It usually reflects bad management, poor compensation, or lack of proper selection. Hence, it is very important for an organization to have a manager to look after the staff’s needs or at least a dedicated program to determine staff engagement issues in an organization.

The following are the 3 commonly identified signs of employee disengagement:

  1. Absenteeism and Tardiness – This is the most obvious sign of a staff member who lacks interest at work. Although sometimes there are emergencies that cannot be avoided, an absence once a week is a sure way to tell your staff is not motivated to work anymore.
  2. Poor Quality of Work. Regular errors, lack of attention to detail, and low productivity are indicators of an unsatisfied staff member. It could be caused by personal problems or issues with management.
  3. If you are getting complaints from the other staff members suffering from their colleague’s poor output or worse, if you are receiving complaints from your customers themselves, then you have a serious problem. The staff member concerned may be facing an unrealistic high workload or may need retraining. These issues should be addressed with urgency before the company starts losing clients.

So what are the negative implications of a high employee turnover?

  1. Even for employers who hire virtual staff, there are still costs associated with hiring one. We dedicate time to training our employees as well as pay for their training to make sure they are effective at work. Hence, we cannot afford to keep losing quality workers. In addition to training, we also must consider the cost to market new openings, complete necessary background, reference checks during the recruitment process, and management’s time to select a new candidate.
  2. The performance of the entire team can be greatly affected. If there are new people to be trained while the experienced ones are leaving, a lot of the tasks may not get done because the team is short-staffed to handle the current workload. Not to mention the quality assurance of the new staff members reduces the amount of work that can be accomplished.
  3. Morale is the degree to which an employee feels good about his work environment. It is directly related to the success of the organization. A high morale team is likely to be much more productive, displays great performance and creativity in the workplace, has less absenteeism/ tardiness at work and encourages increased quality of work output. With teams with high turnover typically have staff that will most certainly be burned out as they shoulder the burden of their previous colleagues’ tasks and this can be demotivating.
  4. Lower Knowledge Base. The constant change of employees means the average years of experience and background or employees are diminished. This means employees are less familiar with the tasks and are less effective in handling the customers.

Considering the points above, it is therefore, very important for an organization to come up with an effective employee retention strategy, implement them during onboarding and not wait until the issue arises.

As said by J.W. Marriott:

“If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your customers and your business will take care of itself”

Are you struggling to find the right employees/staff who are fit for your business needs? Are you in need of a professional to handle recruitment and employee retention? If your answer to both is yes, you can get started by booking your free consultation here.

In today’s crazy world, it seems like we are forced to do more and be more. Yet, often times, we find that more is not really getting us what we want. If you are like me and a busy business owner, it is imperative that you work smarter. I make sure that I surround myself with people who challenge me and make me the best I can be and hire staff to help me do more of the things I like in my business.

With the goal of being more productive, here are 7 productivity tips to get control over your personal and professional life.

1. Understand Your “Why” and “What” You Are Doing
Everything starts with having the end in mind. You have to know why you are doing whatever it is. It is the reason you started your business. The reason you get up every day. Quite frankly, it needs to be a good and significant reason.

I have had many mentors in my career. Each one has a clear message that they have shared with me. Call it a mission statement, value proposition, or a mantra. For us at HireSmartVirtualEmployees.com our mission is simple: We help entrepreneurs leverage their time & have more fun. We do this by providing quality staff and training.

Once you understand why & what you are doing, then you can work on improving how you are doing it. This is where the productivity begins. Evaluate what you are spending your time and talent on and ask yourself, “is this task helping you get closer to what you ultimately want?” If the answer is no, then don’t spend your time on it. Next ask “does this task have to be done?” If it doesn’t have to be done, don’t have anyone spend time on it. If it is necessary, then have someone else on your team do it.

2. Manage Your Schedule by Time Blocking
In a prior post, I talked about managing your calendar and using the skills of time blocking. This one change in my routine has allowed me to effectively run 7 profitable businesses with minimal staff and yet for many – it is a challenge.

Every week I sit down and evaluate what are the most important items that need to be done. If I don’t have to do it, I delegate it. If I have to do it, then I schedule it in my calendar at the time that I can best accomplish the task.

Then block out your time to accomplish those things that will move your business forward. These are the items that typically get pushed to the side because of emergencies and other “urgent” issues. What I and many other business owners have found out is that by actually putting it in the schedule, these strategic items actually get done.

3. Start Work Earlier
There is nothing better that getting to your desk before the phone rings, staff checks in, phone calls start. Getting to work before the “normal” day allows you to focus your time and energy. It sets the tone for the whole day.

Every successful business owner I have ever met starts their day before the chaos begins. Even just 30 minutes of quiet can have a significant impact.

4. Outsource Professional & Personal Tasks
Clearly we are advocates of outsourcing as that is what we do. But other than your administrative tasks that we talk about, you can also outsource other tasks. For example, your laundry, grocery shopping, meal preparation, personal bills, or other tasks that you don’t enjoy doing. Think about all the things you do and which ones you really don’t enjoy and find someone else to do it for you. You will be amazed at the energy you have and the fact that these things are done without you having to think about them.

5. Use Technology
Technology is a wonderful thing. It can enhance our communication and productivity tremendously. Things like Gotomeeting.com, Skype, Hootsuite, Camtasia, Outlook, & others all are there to help. However, remember that technology doesn’t solve a poor business process. We recommend quarterly evaluating your bottlenecks of your process and then see what technology can assist you in improving and enhancing what is already in place.

6. Streamline Your Email
Aaahhh… email. We all are obsessed with email. At meals, we check our phones for email. When we are in meetings, we check email. I know that I have been (and still am sometimes) guilty of this. Email provides us with the satisfaction that #1 – someone thinks we are important and #2 it allows us to feel like we are accomplishing tasks by responding. The true reality is that if we can become disciplined enough to check hourly and avoid the knee jerk reaction to check every 5 minutes, we will be more productive.

Next week, I will provide my top tips for email productivity.

7. Join an Accountability Group & Industry Mastermind
It is proven that what you focus on gets results. If you really want to enhance your productivity, find someone who you can share your goals and be accountable to for your actions. Our best years were when we had weekly check-ins with our accountability team. We never wanted to show up with a goose egg. After all, our egos were on the line. So, find some likeminded people, create your overall goals, break those goals down and have a weekly report and at least a monthly call. You will be amazed at the results.

I hope that you have found this material helpful. At HireSmartVirtualEmployees.com, we can certainly help you in finding staff that will immediately enhance your productivity and allow you to enjoy your business and your life. Interested in finding out more? Book a free consultation with me.

Have you ever stopped and think the benefit of having a virtual employee to your health?

Entrepreneurial stress is real
Responding to hundreds of emails a day is a good sign that business is growing but it will eventually take it’s toll on your health. The founder of Heddings Property Group in New York City, Douglas Heddings gets his inbox filled at a rate of 50 emails per hour and this went straight to his back and had to undergo surgery. The back problem “has a great deal to do with the fact that I feel I have to be on call 24/7,” Heddings says. “This is not good for my mental and physical well-being.” Researchers couldn’t agree more.

Researchers found a 33 percent increased risk of stroke among individuals working 55 hours or more per week compared to those working a standard 40-hour week.

Owning a business has its challenges which frequently equates to stress. Some of the symptoms of having entrepreneurial stress are:

So what can an entrepreneur do?
As a busy business owner, the one way you can get your head floating above the water is to get a Virtual Employee (VE). A VE can handle your everyday tasks, giving you time to focus on things that really matter.

Picture this, someone who can do the administrative tasks for you: responding to emails, managing your online presence, setting appointment, etc. These are just some of the things a VE can do for you and there are many other ways a Virtual Employee can improve your day to day operations.

Having a VE should reduce your working hours by approximately 50% allowing you to either be more productive with your time or enjoy the freedom to do other things.

Ready to get started? We can help! Go to www.HireSmartVirtualEmployees.com/Appointment and place your order for your Rockstar VE!

What is the first thing you do when you arrive at your desk? Most of us will answer with checking email or listening to voice mail.  This is the worst way to start your day!

Both checking email and voicemail set a tone, they take over our thoughts and put us in a reactive mindset, where other people’s priorities, not our own, take over.  For many, it can then set the tone for the entire day.

Once on that reactive treadmill, we find ourselves less productive, and then at the end of the day feel like we didn’t accomplish anything we set out to do that day.   You know, it’s the end of the day and you have worked your fingers to the bone doing stuff, only the things you needed to get done are still on the to-do list. Check out this list of things you could do during the day – no wonder you’re overwhelmed.

A better way to begin your day is to first thing begin with a simple task.  Before the craziness sets in, you should envision what you want to accomplish that day.  Imagine what at the end of the day you have accomplished that will give you a great pleasure of accomplishment.  What will the end of the day show that you have accomplished?

Then, start on getting the important task you want to achieve broken down into specific tasks or actions necessary to accomplish the bigger complex task.  Say that it would feel great to accomplish developing a marketing plan by the end of the day.  To create your marketing plan there are many actions necessary, so make the list.

Your action plan may look like; Choose two lead types; Find sources for new leads, develop marketing materials; source a printer; find the cost of printed materials, source an online service provided; find the cost of online marketing costs; Determine the budget available; choose a schedule of mailings and online ads; and so on. You can get more productivity hacks by clicking here.

Note the measurable actions on the list. It is easier to accomplish those actions than just a list of items one would typically make like; lead type, lead source, materials, printer, printing cost, online source, online cost, budget, calendar / schedule.  Both lists cove the same items but the first puts action to them.

Next you need to set priorities that you want to accomplish and begin the day on those most important tasks when your energy is highest.  Knock out those tough tasks first and then later those easier ones needing less energy can still get done as your mental focus fades somewhat.

This method helps avoid procrastination as tasks are done based on importance, not on what is most enjoyable first and least enjoyable last.  This morning planning ritual should take no more than 10 to 15 minutes and help you get more out of each day since you don’t have to plan each step, just execute the action steps.

Here’s how to hire a virtual employee to get back more time and be able to accomplish even more with your day.