Tag Archives: Virtual Business Owners

Virtual Business: Take It Like a Man

Confident Business WomanExperience is a wonderful thing. Even a bad one will prepare you for the “next time” some situation or other arises. I have learned so much this year just by hearing about all of your experiences. It’s nice to have other strong business women to share with and relate to. I love girl talk, but we haven’t even once really talked about men! Sure, a husband or son gets mentioned every once in a while, but what can we learn from these seemingly simple creatures about business? ;)

Why is it that so many brilliantly capable women I love and work with seem to be living the same experiences over and over? We go through phases of racing into stress, and then crashing into the inevitable phase of fatigue. The longer the periods of stress equal the intensity of fatigue. Does this sound familiar? I can’t complain because this year has been wildly successful in so many ways, yet continues to be intensely stressful in others. I don’t think stress is so much different for men, but it seems like more of my girl friends are complaining of burn out on a regular basis. So we should talk about it.

Tasks men often seem do “better” than women:

  • Switch gears
  • (Don’t give me that “women are better multi-taskers than men”.) Your mind has probably gone 3 different directions just since starting this article. You’ve probably had to write down a reminder, refilled your cup, and looked at the clock twice. Right?  A guy would start delegating before he even tried to handle as many thoughts that are going on in your head right now. So, let’s face it, we need to try to learn how to separate some of our complex thoughts. That way, when one thing gives way, the rest doesn’t follow.

  • Toot their own horn
  • Maybe back in high school you weren’t supposed to brag on yourself because you’d be seen as conceited. “She’s so stuck on herself!” Right? In business, humility has a place. Save it for your anonymous charitable donations. It’s a bad idea to post somewhere that you didn’t love your latest press release or can’t believe how stupid you feel not knowing something. Enough with the personal put downs!

Self sabotaging tasks women seem to do more than men:

  • Apologize constantly
  • Whether it’s for inadequacies or absences, for some reason, we feel guilty about being less than Wonder Woman; and must make a mense with “I’m sorry” and over-compensation. I once worked with a girl who’d type up a page and a half (slight exaggeration… very slight) about why she was going to be gone and she was sorry about not being there for you in her auto response email. She was the sweetest girl you could meet, but seriously she made herself look bad because she did it. In fact it turned into an intra-office joke.

  • Take on everyone else’s problems
  • The truth is we could probably do so much more if we didn’t get offended by something someone said (that probably had nothing to do with us anyway), or if we weren’t concerned about our friend’s neighbor’s sister who just found out she has a tumor that might be cancerous. It’s true that there are disasters and bad memories that are going to invade our thoughts, but they are our thoughts and if we are going to get anything done we need to be in control of them. It’s ok to be sympathetic, but don’t live through the tragedies with everyone.

  • Over share
  • Some things are better left unsaid. It very well might be because some guys still live in the Stone Age and think “I can’t talk about my feelings. Men don’t do that.” I don’t know to many of my guy friends who are posting messages about how they “can’t take it anymore!” or “I can’t believe that %$!# just said blah blah blah to me, but…” on Facebook (Yeah, you know what I am talking about.) The people who share every stick and stone life throws at them? Sorry, but most of the time, it isn’t the men doing that. Think of it this way. You are giving the whole world info that could be used against you.

Ladies, make sure you have these two very important traits in check and in balance to succeed as a virtual business owner.

1. Confidence

(Yeah, I said it!) Thanks to Cover girl, coffee, and Botox we can fake clear skin, energy, and even hang on to some version of youth a little bit longer; but the hottest asset any woman (especially running her own business) can posses is nearly impossible to fake or live without and that is confidence.

Let’s get a man’s opinion.
Because he’s had a lot of experience working with (sometimes putting up with) quite the wide variety of virtual business people at New Marketing Labs, and he’s a man, I decided to ask Chris Brogan of what he thought about my gender confidence theory.

So, I asked him point-blank: “On average, do you think that men are more confident than women in the virtual business world?”

Chris responds: “I think men are more confident, period, for an unfortunate reason. Men are willing to say they can do something when in actuality, it’s a stretch. Women most often only say that they can do what they KNOW they can do, and what they’ve had experience doing (on the average). Thus, men are much more likely to take wild swings for weird possible new futures, where women tend to think they have to show capability/experience first.”

Think about it. I do think he missed that men seem to worry less about what people when think if something doesn’t work out. Many also do better about not dwelling on the details that didn’t go perfectly. This leads me to trait number 2.

2. Perfectionism

I have learned more and more over the past few years that I am more willing to turn in a paper late or not accept a project at all if I don’t think I have the time or resources to do it the way that I know it should be done. This is truly a wonderful trait to have. Ask any of my professors or clients! I try to remind myself that no one is as big a critic of my work as I am, and I don’t need to get a hundred percent on everything do I? Well, yes I do and that’s my style, but it’s also a sort of curse because I wonder if I’ve have missed out on some things that I could have done great.

We even teach our kids that no one is perfect all the time.
It’s like I told my daughter this weekend, “No one can be good all the time.” She looked at me puzzled. “Why not?” (As if I’d just completely derailed what I’d been teaching her whole life. :{ Scary.)

“Well, because eventually that person would just snap and go bad or get sick.” I replied.

“Well, then can someone be bad all the time and then snap to good?” she reasoned. (LOL! Yeah, kids…)

“No, because you need a healthy balance.” I told her.

The moral of that story?
If you don’t allow yourself enough slack, your goals will always be out of reach, and if you give yourself too much slack, then there probably was never a concrete goal there to reach for anyway.

Skype for Small Business

Oprah has been skyping forever, or so it seems. I’m not really Oprah’s biggest fan, but I gotta love a woman who sets trends worldwide. ;) Is it time you started utilizing it too? On the very front page of Skype’s website it will tell you all of the things that their service will do for free.

  • Voice and video calls to anyone else on Skype
  • Conference calls with three or more people
  • Instant messaging, file transfer and screen sharing

What is so cool about it?
The screen sharing option I love. Of course, it isn’t as wonderful as remote desktop or Teamviewer where you are able to take over the shared screen to literally show guests how to do something on their computer. Let’s face it though, these options aren’t universal, and not everyone has cash to drop on a Teamviewer license for each client computer.

Think about it though, how often do you have to say: “OK, now what do you see?” when you are trying to walk someone through any task on their computer? And people often remember how and where to do something when they do it themselves other than have you take over their mouse and do it for them right?

How does it compare?
Many of you still use AIM pro for the desktop sharing which I would say isn’t any better or worse than the Skype version. If you don’t have either then you might as well jump on the skype bandwagon since you will likely find more businesses on Skype than you will AOL.

Skype Business Solutions
Skype’s business solutions offer more services like integrating with PBX operators (like if you already use Ringcentral for voicemail boxes and such) and if you have employees across the globe, you can set up an account for them.

I’m Admitting It! I Can’t Do It All, All The Time.

Ok…I’m admitting it!  I need a break!  Is that wrong?  Does that make me a bad Mom?  I don’t think so – everyone needs a break every now and then.  Since summer break began I’ve been juggling a very busy schedule.  I can’t speak for the rest of you Work at Home folks, but I know I try to do it all and it’s not working right now.  I needed a little time to work and focus without “Mom, can you make me a milkshake?” or “Mom, can we go swimming NOW?”  In a desperate plea for some alone time, I called my Mom to ask if the boys could come over.  Without any hesitation she said, “Sure, I’ll come get them.  We’d love to have them.”   Thank you so much to my Mom, Dad and Brother.  I have the most wonderful family anyone could ask for!  

Being a WAHM or WAHD [Work at Home Dad] as Scott Stratten aka UnMarketing made famous here… is a wonderful way of life if you can make it work for you.  And, I can see how some just give up and say I’m going back to work – as in, getting a job outside of the home.  I have a lot of respect for working moms and dads.  I have no idea how they get everything done.  I’m at home all day (usually) and I still can’t find the time to do the things that need to be done.  Even with daily chores set for my boys, some days it still looks like a tornado went right through the living room.  A schedule used to be a way of life for us here. But, as my kids get older it’s not working quite as well as it use to.  As a matter of fact, my son said just yesterday, “Um, yeah.  I’m 10 years old now – I don’t need quiet time.”  Ok, so maybe YOU don’t, but I DO! 

This summer has already been very busy for us.  I’ve taken on new clients and even kicked a few to the curb – no more time suckers for me!  On June 25th I had surgery [female issues – don’t ask ;) ] and last weekend one my 13th wedding anniversary, I was wrestling with my youngest and ended up with a broken nose!  LOL  Who would’ve ever thought a 7 yr-old could break a grownups nose?!  Him breaking my nose wasn’t the bad part…ME  having to pop my own nose back into place was.  OMG!  Talk about peeing your pants!  Ever tried to focus with a broken nose?  Not so easy to do.  It was funny, but it wasn’t, ya know?!  LOL  Oh, did I mention this weekend (July 10th ) is my birthday and July 14th is my son’s 8th birthday?  Phew!  As you can see – it’s already been a crazy summer, but you roll with the punches, right?   

The Boys and I last Christmas

Making life work as an Entrepreneur is very important to me.  I want to work from home and be here for my family.  My life as a WAHM can be hectic, but I love every moment of what I do and I wouldn’t trade my country life for one moment of city life.   

I found this article to be helpful and I’d like to share it with you – How to Work at Home Successfully . 

How Long Have You Been a Virtual Assistant?

We would like to start a poll for the readers of our blog to find out what experience levels we are helping through our posts.

If you would like to participate, please take a moment to answer the following question:

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Your feedback is highly valued, and with these results we can begin to provide you all with targeted information that will help you in your virtual business endeavors!

Exchanging the Flip-Flops & Cowboy Boots for High Heels (only for few hours)

For a few days in May, I’m trading the flip-flops and cowgirl boots for high heels.  I’ve been asked to speak at The Bob Proctor Matrixx Event (http://www.bobproctormatrixx.com/business-retreat-business-goals-wealth-accumulation/) in Canada.  Although I totally despise being called an expert, I’m going to run with it and be a guest as their Social Media Expert.  I’ll be speaking on using Social Media for Business.  Social Media is a never ending learning process.  There is something new to learn everyday and that is one reason I have a hard time with the term “expert”.

This is going to be a whole new experience for me and my family.  Mom (me) is always here to get everyone out the door.  Whether it is off to work or taking my boys to school with lunches packed, clothes ironed (or thrown in the dryer for wrinkle release ;) ), papers signed, homework checked or whatever it may be; it’s done by me!  Not that my husband wouldn’t help, it’s just never been an issue of someone else doing it.  Then I thought, “who’s going to water the garden or the flowers?”  When I approached my family about this adventure, there was nothing but quarter sized eye balls and wide opened mouths and a “are you serious”?  I stood firm and said I sure am. 

Q:  “But, Mom, who’s going to make sure all the soap is out of my hair?” 

A:  You’re planning on bathing while I’m gone?  I’m impressed.

Q:  “And who’s going to match my socks up?” 

A:  You or your Dad, or possibly MeMe?!  We’ll figure it out and y’all will make it just fine.  

Q:  “But, Mom you always take me to school and you’re the only one who drops me off at just the right time.”

After a big long discussion of who, what, when and where, my family agreed.  My boys gave me a hug and said “even though we will miss you, we’re very proud of you Momma and what you’re doing with your business and for other online business owners as well.”

I’m not a public speaker and don’t plan on starting now.  However, I do have some knowledge to offer, so why not just get up there and let it out.  I’ve been practicing on my grammar, as well.  I’ve also been trying to say “You All” instead of “Ya’ll.”  But, my husband pointed something out – “They asked YOU to speak and that’s just not YOU honey.” Oh man, he has a point.  Saying ‘Ya’ll’ is one of those things that’s just part of me being me ;)

I’ve always enjoyed being the one behind the scenes; making things flow for my clients online and obviously my family at home.  I never had any desire to “go anywhere” but after some serious thought, I decided I’m going to do this!  Yes!!  I’m going to Canada.  Am I nervous?  Hell Yeah, but I can do this for the industry.

So, here’s to all of us – entrepreneurs, online business owners, virtual assistants and small business owners for getting out there and letting it be known about what exactly we do and how important each and every one of us is.  I’ll be kicking off the flip-flips and boots for a couple of hours and wearing my big girl shoes!

Wish me luck –

Cheers!

Still Twitterpated? How’s that Working Out for You?

Twitter and Sugar with your coffee?Millions of virtual business owners like us are on Twitter. It is one of those tools that can seem exciting at first, then quickly become a “chore” by having to figure out ways to keep conversations going. If you haven’t found your “purpose” on Twitter, then this post will give you some ideas to finding your Twitter niche.

I don’t really use Twitter all that much to build my business. I happen to prefer Facebook. However, the usefulness of keeping up with my “peeps” has not lost its value. I use it often to teach and to learn about the virtual assistant world. You can learn so many helpful things while listening to live conversations that are happening around the world.

The best ways to learn about how to use tools like Twitter are by experience and by examples. These are five of my favorite peeps who I sporadically chime in on their conversations. They each have their own specific area to shine on Twitter.

  1. @KenaRoth is the perfect example of a VA who has a true passion for Twitter. She shares social media tips, shows genuine interest in people by asking them about their lives/business/family/etc. She has established herself as an expert in her field with Twitter (and Facebook). Now, when people want training to use social media for business, they go to her.
    I loved her blog post: Twitter, Some Get It, Some Don’t.
  2. @JenFriel has a fun way of uniting nerds on Twitter. You’ll often see her high energy tweets with a #nerdsunite hashtag. She also shares new places and nerdy conventions she is attending with foursquare. She’s what you’d call an extroverted nerd. :)
    JenFriel
  3. @teksquisite (Bev Robb) is an internet security expert who is always keeping me up on the latest in cyber crime detection and prevention. You’ll often see her tweets hash-tagged under #scammers and #cybercrime. She has established herself as an expert in her field with Twitter. Now, when people are concerned about security threats, they go to her.
    teksquisite
  4. @joshchandler is a social blogger who can often be found chirping for charity. See how he shares information about a cause? He gets good causes moving with his tweets. Now this is what I call using your powers for good.
    joshchandler
  5. @VAForums uses Twitter to promote their newest resources and forum members’ news. If you are a virtual assistant and haven’t signed up as a member at the Virtual Assistant Forums, then you are missing some tons of helpful tools, templates, and peer support. All they ask is that you keep it professional.
    VAForums

Now you have a few ideas of how to use Twitter creatively for your business: to share tips and good conversation, let out your inner nerd, do your part to fight cyber crime, help a charity, and promote your business. Reach and keep followers with these Twitter tools.

Follow us on twitter!

Amber: @FindingAnswers

Jennifer: @thesnflwrgrl

Kena: @KenaRoth