VAs: Do you have business boundaries?

by 1st VA on December 29, 2009

I recently held open call times for virtual assistants so they could call in to ask questions about my 2010 VA coaching programs.  During these calls I recognized a common issue among several VAs and that was that they had no established business boundaries.  I can’t say I was entirely surprised as this is a big part of what I coach in my private platinum and group programs – how to set and maintain boundaries.  However, some of the details that I heard were beyond comprehension.  One VA allowed her client to call at all hours of the day and any day of the week, and the client expected her to answer while she was out doing errands, during dinner, or socializing with friends.   SAY WHAT? AND.. she never charged the client for any of this time!  I encourage her to keep track of how much time she spent on the phone that she didn’t charge the client for in one week, and calculate how much lost revenue that works out to be for an entire year.  I think she’ll be stunned.  This is NOT the way to create a 6-figure VA business!

This is just one example, and it’s a pretty extreme one. And, of course, in this case it’s not JUST about boundaries – there are some other issues here as well.

However, some other of the women I spoke with were too close to their own situation to even recognize some more minor boundary issues that prevent them from building  a 6-figure business.  And that’s what happens when you’re in your own business day-to-day without getting outside support.

Setting appropriate boundaries is just one of the things we focus on creating or reworking in the Step It Up VA Private Platinum and Group Coaching programshttp://1stva.com/step-it-up-va-coaching

~Donna

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I’ve put something together for you to get more information about my coaching for Virtual Asistants.  Some stellar applications are coming through and I can only allow a limited number of VAs into my program.  Don’t wait.  If you’re ready to double your income, double your list, leverage your expertise, create high ticket programs, reposition your fees, and much, much more – visit http://1stva.com/step-it-up-va-coaching now to get your invitation and application.

~Donna

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Exciting news for Virtual Assistants!

by 1st VA on December 4, 2009

Step it Up VA Private Platinum Coaching Program with Donna Toothaker

If 2010 is the year you want to see your VA business supporting the lifestyle you desire, please send me an email to request your invitation letter and application.

If you’re ready to finally move into a high-level coaching program to achieve rapid success.  Don’t wait! Spots are limited!

Make 2010 YOUR year!

~Donna

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Keep the Ball Rolling After an Event

by 1st VA on December 2, 2009

You’ve just returned from a conference, and you’re excited, motivated and feeling great!

The party’s not over just because you’re no longer wearing a name badge! Resist the urge to get “back to business” the minute you walk through the door – now is the best time to harness that positive energy and put what you’ve learned into action. Here are a few steps to help get you started.

1. Don’t turn the conference into a “shelf help” event, where you leave your materials and notes on the shelf when you return and go back to the old day-to-day. Create an action plan right away to implement what you have learned. If it seems overwhelming to create a whole plan right away, then take the one most important or interesting thing you learned and run with it.

2. Follow up with your new contacts; E-mail all the folks whose business cards you received, along with any of the conference staff, host, or speakers with whom you made a connection at the event. Even sending a short “nice to meet you” note is great. Perhaps you met someone with whom you would like to collaborate? Someone else who can refer your business to others and vice versa? Note one personal recollection from your interaction with that person – how you hope they enjoy their upcoming vacation, or have a successful product launch – let them know you were really listening to them and have an interest in what they had to say. Or, maybe there is someone you would like to thank – the speaker who inspired you, the host who welcomed you – a simple act of appreciation can turn them from acquaintances into allies.

3. Find your new contacts on Facebook and “friend” them. They may also have a presence on Twitter, Linked In, Plaxo, or other business and social networking sites. Perhaps you belong to a Facebook group you think would be of interest to one of them, or have friends to suggest to them?

4. Take action on the home front. Make sure you have marketing materials or products ready to send out to new contacts, customers or potential clients, and that your website/shopping cart are updated and able to handle lots of traffic! Now is also the time to determine how things went with your team or staff while you were away, and make any changes or improvements if necessary so your business can handle more regular time with you on the road.

5. Finally, give yourself a frank performance review. What kind of a first impression did you make? Was your business pitch refined and natural, or do you need to work on your confidence or public speaking skills? Did you hand out as many business cards or meet as many new faces as you had intended at the event? Make an honest assessment of the way you interacted at the event, and make notes of how you can make the next one even better.

Donna Toothaker is CEO and founder of 1st VA the highly sought-after online marketing and consulting company. 1st VA specializes in providing online marketing support and services to entrepreneurs and solopreneurs who wish to effectively build or improve their online presence. Visit http://www.1stva.com to sign up for our valuable weekly ezine and receive a free special report, The Top 5 Essential Tasks for the Ultimate Online Promotion of Your Business.

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“What happens in Vegas….”

by 1st VA on November 12, 2009

…isn’t going to stay in Vegas this time!

I had a fabulous time at the Ali Brown Shine Event this past weekend. I met incredible entrepreneurs! I enjoyed my luxurious suite at the Venetian with a good friend and colleague. I got my picture taken with “Elvis”. I ate great food. And even though my feet hurt from walking so much in my high heels, and even though I didn’t win any money gambling – I’m so glad I didn’t miss it!

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A client had asked me to share with him my 2 biggest take-aways from being at the event, so I thought I would share here also.

1. There is an incredible power in being surrounded by amazing entrepreneurs. I left inspired, motivated and more jazzed about my business than I’ve been in a long time. The new projects and ideas I’m going to start working on aren’t overwhelming me, rather, I’m excited to implement and begin to increase my company’s offerings to serve more people.

2. I don’t have to try to squeeze my company into one business model. My business isn’t a cookie-cutter business and the reaffirming that it’s okay to utilize parts (or all) of more than one business model was huge for me!

While there were so many more take-aways – these were the biggies for me. And while there is some “grumbling” online from people who were unhappy with certain things about the event – I feel it’s a shame that these folks weren’t open to receiving any “good” from being there.

~Donna

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Another Aweber Casualty

by 1st VA on September 24, 2009

I just got off the phone with my friend, AnaMaria Herrera of Practice Building Institute.  We talk “biz” every week or two, and today she told me how she’ll be moving her contact list from Aweber to 1 Shopping Cart.  She knows that she’ll potentially lose quite a bit of her list if they don’t opt-in again.  What she said to me was, “I wish someone had told me when I started to choose 1SC, even though I wasn’t ready for all it’s functionality”.

I feel for AnaMaria.  I tell everyone who asks (and probably many who don’t) – to not start with Aweber or Constant Contact (or other) in order to save money in the short term.  Everyone eventually moves to 1SC – do it now so you don’t lose some of your followers later when you make the move.  Some listen – some don’t.  But I can’t count the number of times we’ve imported lists for clients into 1SC from their former, smaller broadcast/autoresponder services.   [We have a great system for doing this – ask me about it if interested – but we don’t expect to ever see a 100% confirm rate – it just won’t happen.]

Don’t get me wrong – Aweber and Constant Contact have their places, and if you never, ever plan to sell a product, or have affiliates – then these are great systems.  But if you’re starting out building your list and choosing which program to use – go with 1SC now so you’re not sorry later.  Though most entrepreneurs and small business owners do manage wonderfully for years with 1SC – for the larger, more profitable businesses – Infusionsoft may be the place to start.  However, a move from 1SC to Infusionsoft is more seamless than a move from Aweber to 1SC!

Either way – remember the saying – make decisions based on the business you expect to have, not the business you have now.  Good luck!

~Donna

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The Great Rate Debate

by 1st VA on September 18, 2009

In almost 6 years in business I’ve listed our rates on our website about 85% of the time.  There were a couple of brief periods where I took them off the site – this being one of them.  My philosophy was that I don’t want rate-shoppers and tire-kickers calling me – spending an hour of my time – falling in love with me – only to have them quickly get off the phone when they hear how much we charge.  However, I recently took the advice of a colleague and removed them.

I do understand her point of talking with people first to explain the value, benefits and results they’ll get from working with us.

Our rates are on the high side for VAs – I know that.  However, we’re slowly morphing away from Virtual Assisting and solely into the specialty of Online Marketing, which allows us to charge more.  Yet – folks still think of us, or find us online, as a VA company.  So they get ‘sticker shock’ when they hear our rates.

Until our branding is complete – I’ll be putting our rates back on our website.  My time is valuable and spending 20-40 minutes with a rate-shopper just is a very poor use of my time.

Where do you stand on the great rate debate?  Would love to hear your position!

~Donna

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We’ve been getting a lot of questions about our Online in a Month program so I thought I’d post the answers here in case more folks have the same questions.

Q.  I already have a website, I’m just not happy with it.  Is Online in a Month appropriate for me?

A.  Yes!  We can rework your current website or revamp it completely as part of the Online in a Month program.

Q.  One month sounds fast to create all of this for me – how do I know I’ll get something custom?

A.  ALL of our work for Online in a Month is custom.  This isn’t a ‘cookie cutter’ online presence that will look and feel like all of our other clients.  We work with each client individually to create an online presence that will for them their business and their goals.

Q.  I have some social media profiles set up, I’m just not sure what to do with them.

A.  Online in a Month is the perfect opportunity to have your profiles optimized for your business and social media goals and to get detailed information on how to make the most of them once they are maximized.  You can’t have an online presence using social media sites alone, so Online in a Month is a great way to make sure you’re making the most of ALL opportunities online.

Q.  It took my web designer 12 weeks just to create my website – how can you get everything in Online in a Month completed for me in one month?

A.  We have a team of highly specialized, highly experienced and skilled people each handling their own area of expertise.  Our team works together like a well-oiled machine to get all pieces of this program into place for you within one month.

Q.  When I have my complete online presence in one month – will you really instruct me how to maintain it and work it?

A.  Absolutely – just as communication is open throughout the month we’re getting you online – communication is open after you’re online and getting used to managing it yourself.  You’ll receive printed instructions on every aspect of your online presence and we’re never more than a phone call or email away to answer any questions you have.

Q.  Do you have other payment plans besides just the 2-month payment plan?

A.  We’ve been known to be flexible about a 3 and 4-month payment plan so don’t hesitate to contact us.  We’ll likely be able to work something out.

If there any questions that I’ve missed – please don’t hesitate to ask and I’ll be happy to answer them for you.

Here’s to your online success!!

~Donna

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Repurpose your material and give visitors options

by 1st VA on September 4, 2009

Our client had an 11-chapter print book that he had sold (very few) on his website.  We took his book and created 11 special reports that he’s now selling individually.  And he’s making far more money than he did selling the one book.

We realized that not everyone will need the information in the entire book – they may have interest in the topics of one or two chapters. We now gave them the option to purchase just what they needed.

Additionally, in this day and age of the speed of the internet – people don’t always want to wait for the print book to arrive in the mail.  Making these reports digital, which will arrive in inboxes instantly is another way that we’re giving options to the visitors.

Next on our agenda is to repurpose again into an audio and into an 11-week digital email course.

What products can you repurpose to generate more sales and give your visitors options??

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So you have an exciting new product or program.  You’ve surveyed your target market and you know it’s something they want and need.  So, you hire a copywriter to create a great sales page for it and then you expect quick sales (and lots of them!).  Yet – no one is buying.  You announce it to your list.  You add it to your ezine and website.  Still… no one is buying.   What is going on?
There could be many reasons, but chances are it isn’t being promoted enough or consistently.

Here is a list of ways to promote your new offering online.

Website and Blog: These are the most obvious.  Your target market is visiting your website and blog, so, of course, you’ll want to be sure to highlight it on your home page as something new, and in a way that will catch the reader’s eye.
Ezine: Another “given,” but including your new offering in each ezine as a “recommended product” or service will give folks several chances to view the offering.  I also suggest doing a solo promotion as an official “product launch.”
Tweets and Posts: If you’re not sure what this means, then it’s time you get a lesson in social media.  You should be tweeting about your new product regularly (as much as 3 times/day) on twitter and posting regularly on Facebook.  Now – know this will only work if you are also including valuable information/communication in your tweets and posts.  Solely announcing something you’re selling will seem “spammy,” and only turn people off.
Affiliates: Give a great commission, and have your affiliates sell your offering for you.  Make sure you are giving them plenty of sample emails, tweets, blog posts and graphics for their marketing materials, and offer sales tips and suggestions — don’t expect or ask them to come up with materials and a sales pitch on their own.
Article Writing and Submission: Write articles relating to your new offering that would appeal to your target market, and submit them to online directories, such as ezinearticles.com.  Include an appropriate bio with a call to action that takes readers directly to your sales page.
Free teleseminar: It’s important to leave no question unanswered, especially for a higher-priced offering.  Host a free teleseminar (or several) that will give people a chance to call in to ask questions about your product/service.
Joint Venture:  Perhaps a colleague has a non-competing product, but a similar target market.  Figure out a way to offer something together that will promote each other’s product at the same time, and to each other’s lists.
Remember that it takes anywhere from five to nine times for someone to look at something before they’ll become buyers.  So, promoting in as many ways as are available to you, and consistently, is the key.

Good luck!

Donna Toothaker is CEO and founder of 1st VA the highly sought-after online marketing and consulting company. 1st VA specializes in providing online marketing support and services to entrepreneurs and solopreneurs who wish to effectively build or improve their online presence. To discover how 1st VA can help your business – visit http://www.1stva.com.

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