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Business

build a business plan

Don’t Rush Into Business! Slow Down and Do This First

build a business plan

Don't Rush Into Business!

Slow Down and Do This First

TASK Virtual Assistant

Everybody wants it now. We live in an instantaneous world – news reaches millions of people as it's happening. Gone are the days of waiting a week for a letter. I remember writing my cousin and then waiting for her return letter, which was always at least two weeks. Do you remember seeing something you had to have in a magazine and ordering it – 6 to 8 weeks delivery time! So be honest, with online ordering and same-day delivery options, we only begrudgingly accept delivery of over two weeks if that's the only option we can find. Many, myself included, will check Amazon first for our wonderful "Prime one day" shipping. I recently saw an ad for a cute animated pumpkin, and rather than go to their website, pay $15.99 shipping and handling, and have it take 2-4 weeks to deliver, I found it on Amazon, and my daughter received it two days later.

I do have a point to make. Many of today's start-up companies and existing businesses have the same mindset. We all want a successful, thriving business with clients lined up around the block, and we wanted it to happen yesterday. Let me pause this thought and tell you I have almost zero patience. I can probably think of over a hundred things that are longer than my patience, such as the time it takes for an embarrassing Tik Tok to trend! My mother would always tell me to have patience, "good things come to those who wait," and that brings me back to my point. A successful business, a trusted accounting firm, or a top dog Realtor does not happen overnight. It won't even happen in a week or 30 days, but if you work at it and start at the beginning, it will happen.

"If  you build it, they will come."

I have had five businesses, of which only one is successful. I attribute that to my awesome coach, Tawnya Sutherland, who grabbed my reins and pulled me back. I wanted immediate success. I would get an idea in my head, and I wanted to see it come to fruition yesterday! That is the only reason my other businesses did not survive. I jumped right in without planning and went up the creek without a paddle. I almost did that with TASK Virtual Assistant! But I slowed down and worked on a five-year plan. Let me share some tips to help you build your plan:

Create a Business Blueprint

There are a TON of resources on business plans, business goals, start-ups, etc., so I will not get into the how's. But just like an architect needs blueprints before building a house, so do you before building your business.

Your blueprints should "draw" out:

Product and service development – What is it that you bring to your market? What purpose did you go into business to fulfill? Jennifer Todd, owner FutureView Advisory and FutureView CPA asks, "Are you selling the right thing?"

The definition of a business person is someone who solves problems for others at a profit.

Marketing and Sales - This is easily the most essential part of any successful business. You may have the most remarkable invention on the planet, but if you lack marketing and sales, you are setting yourself up to fail in business.

Learn About Your Target Audience and Industry

The more you understand who you are marketing to, the better you can convert them into paying or loyal customers. Interact with them on social media and ask for feedback after they purchase your products, services, or content.

Be Ready For Financial Setbacks

I was always told not to expect a profit in the first five years. Educate yourself regarding business finance. This includes paying yourself and the costs to create content, accounting systems, other tools, and much more. A poor grasp of finances is one of the most common reasons businesses fail, which is why you should set it up correctly and find the appropriate funding before you start.

Know Your Wants, and Don't Wants

You would think that with all of the opportunities, technology, and variety available in the world today, people would have an easy time defining what they want. Unfortunately, the opposite is actually true. Our world has become so fast-moving and hectic that many people have lost touch with themselves and what is important to them. When asked, many will quickly respond with a quick (and immediate) want: "I want my mortgage paid off."

List out a few wants and don't wants, then write out WHY next to each one. This exercise will help you when it comes time to create your mission and vision statements.

I cannot guarantee that by following these tips you will see a five-digit income or that your accounting firm will hit the Forbes Best Tax and Accounting Firms, but I do know that without a plan, you will not grow your business.

vacation mood

8 Tips To Keep The Vacation Mood Going

vacation mood

8 Tips To Keep The Vacation Mood Going

TASK Virtual Assistant

After a relaxing summer vacation, when it's time to get back into the swing of office life, it can be hard to get motivated. The days of fun in the sun seem long gone. My sister and I took a cruise a few years back and let me tell you, I could certainly become accustomed to that lifestyle. If I was hungry, food was there. If I wanted a drink, it magically appeared. We even got our beds turned down, and our towels turned into the cutest animals. Going back to the office wasn't an easy task. I remember trying to come up with one good reason why I should get off that ship! So, whether this summer found you enjoying the royal life, being waited on hand and foot, or family fun and relaxation, just because the vacation is over doesn't mean you can't continue to enjoy your life.

Follow these eight tips to ease back into the work week and keep that vacay feeling going for as long as possible:

Tip #1: Plan your time off

Just because you're back to work doesn't mean that you need to make your life all about work. You should still have plenty of free time that you can plan out and enjoy to the fullest. Plan a fun evening for yourself or your family. You can even plan for a weekend trip somewhere in the near future. Block out your time off on your calendar. And remember, make it a no-work zone – that means no cell phone or email checking!

Tip #2: Take it one day at a time

Sometimes, coming back to work can be overwhelming because there's so much to do. Your mind may race through all the things you'll need to accomplish over the next few weeks. That'll make your thoughts unbearable and you'll long for the vacation that just ended. Instead, focus on one day at a time or even one moment at a time. Your work will get done, no matter how overwhelming it seems. And there will still be time for fun, too.

Tip #3: Organize your life on the first day back

When you first get back to work, spend a day "spring cleaning." If you have a desk job, organize your computer files as well as your desk. Sort through your email and answer only the most important and urgent on your first day back. This can help you feel a sense of accomplishment, while also clearing the clutter.

Tip #4: Do a few half days if you can afford it

If you have a staff, you may be able to do a couple of half days to transition yourself back to work. This way, you can start slowly while getting back into the work mentality, and you'll have portions of your day that you can plan for yourself and your family.

Tip #5: Start planning your next trip early

Even if your next trip is far into the future, you can still dream about what it'll be like. There are many benefits to planning early. When you book a trip early, you can take advantage of early bird discounts. Those who know what they want early will be there to grab the best deals.

Tip #6: Go somewhere special for lunch

On your first day back, plan a special lunch for yourself. You don't have to delve immediately into the usual routine. Pack a special lunch or treat yourself to a meal at a restaurant you love.

Tip #7: Make a vacation scrapbook in your free time

Remember the good times you had on vacation by using your free time to make a scrapbook or write a memoir about your experiences. You can do this after work or on weekends. It's a great way to keep your vacation going in your mind.

Tip #8: Focus on what you love about what you do

If transitioning back to work is turning out to be more difficult than you thought it would be, it might be because you're focusing on the negative aspects of your job. Remember your “why.” Try to focus on the positive and on what you love most about what you do.

Vacation time will be here again before you know it. Learn to enjoy your life no matter what time of year it is. Make the most of each moment by seeking ways to sprinkle that vacation mentality into every ordinary day.

persistence

The Power of Persistence

persistence

The Power of Persistence

TASK Virtual Assistant

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had someone tell me, “you’re nothing if not persistent.” When I get an idea in my head, I’m like a dog with a bone. I just cannot let it go and will do everything possible to make it a reality. Is this the reason for my continued success? I believe so.

Sometimes the secret to success is simple: just keep trying.

Being highly persistent is something that can help you make all kinds of amazing things happen. Like the little ant that moved the rubber tree plant, truly remarkable things can happen when you just don't give up.

Personally, giving up is not an option for me, seriously. I have serious F.O.M.O. (fear of missing out) and always wonder “what if.” Because of this, I simply cannot quit.

But the truth of the matter is that some people may simply be born more persistent than others – or they may have learned the behavior when they were very young.  So this bears asking, is it too late to 'decide' to be persistent right now?

Whether or not one's personality can be 'changed' over time is a matter that is contentious among psychologists. However, I believe there are things you can do to make being persistent easier for yourself. But before we can learn to be persistent, we must first understand why we are not persistent.

Why We Give Up

Oftentimes, we fail to stick at things after the first or second failure. Many become disheartened when something doesn’t work out just as planned or as quickly as one would like, and they simply give up.

Here are three of the main reasons we tend to quit:

Reason #1: Effort and Time

One of the biggest reasons we tend to give up and stop being persistent is that whatever it is we're doing takes time – too much time. If you're writing client proposals and getting no responses, this can often seem like a big waste of time; the same goes for starting exercise regimes that don't offer up fast results. The world we live in today is instantaneous, and we want the same with our results.

Reason #2: Our Egos

One of the biggest reasons we often give up trying is that it hurts our ego to fail. If you've failed a business start-up five times (raising my hand here), then you'll be putting your ego through the wringer each time – especially when you have to tell your family and friends. Thus we often make excuses to give up trying, so we can protect ourselves.

Reason #3: Politeness

In many cases, we don't persist because we don't want to "be a bother." While this might sound reasonable on paper, the reality is that you're actually giving up on your dream to be less of a nuisance. Like it or not, being a nuisance is often what you must do to make things happen for you!

Flip the Persistent Switch to ON

We're always told how we can achieve anything if we put our minds to it – how if we keep putting in the time and effort, we will eventually start to see our efforts pay off. It seems that the key ingredient to success in all its forms is persistence. So how do you flip that persistence switch on:

Increase Your Energy

Self-care is one of my favorite topics. Proper self-care keeps the body going. If you’re struggling with fatigue or frustration, you will also struggle to flip your persistence switch on. But having the right diet and exercise regime built around increasing your mitochondria count can do wonders for you. If you have more energy, you won’t have to rely on willpower to be persistent!

Clearly Define Your Goals

Being persistent is often a result of having clearly defined goals that you're willing to work tirelessly towards. If you know precisely what it is that you're trying to achieve and you know precisely how you're going to achieve it, then it's just a matter of executing that plan even when it's exhausting or daunting.

Have a Support Network

go you

We derive strength from those around us. When we're at our last ebb, we think of all the people who believe in us and the people we don't want to let down. Just knowing you have people cheering for you to succeed can often be all it takes!

 Practice

And you know what? Persistence takes practice. Even if you find you're prone to giving up, consistently trying to try can help you to develop the persistence you need. Don't give up on not giving up!

Persistence can really pay off. In all kinds of circumstances, you have nothing to lose by trying again and everything to gain if you're successful.

If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.

The simple fact of the matter is that the more times you try, the more opportunity you have to win.

Pros and Cons of Working from Home with Pets

Pros and Cons of Office Pets

Pros and Cons of Working From Home With Pets

TASK Virtual Assistant

I am writing the outline for this week's blog with my cat, aka the C.E.O. sitting on my lap. She is pretty content, purring away and ensuring the correct distance between her and my keyboard. However, if I try to move beyond the bounds of that distance, she lets me know her displeasure with a quick paw stretch that usually involves the claws and my leg!!

This month we've had a few days dedicated to our pets - International Cat Day, Black Cat Appreciation Day, and National Dog Day. So many of us are working from home, trying to run our business in this new remote environment, and have become regular fixtures for our pets. So I wonder how many of us have changed our routines to accommodate our new office mates? With this in mind, I thought it would be fun to look at the pawsitive side of home office pets and the not-so-pleasant side.

The pros of home office pets: 

Health Benefits - Working from home can lead to a sense of isolation and bring on depression and feelings of loneliness; however, studies have shown that a quick cuddle with fluffy can help reduce those melancholy feelings. And I don't have to tell you that stress reduction equals better health. Studies show that pets reduce stress and anxiety, so it maSeparation Anxietykes sense that we are now more productive and focused when working from home.

No Separation Anxiety - Our furbabies get stressed when we're gone for long periods and may exhibit behavioral problems - the pillow just exploded! - to more severe withdrawal symptoms such as not eating or drinking water. However, with their humans working at home, our pet's separation anxiety is seemingly reduced, and our furbabies are happier than ever!

Ice Breaker – Picture it: you're on a Zoom call with your team, but no one wants to speak up. It's really not much different from the live team meetings you used to attend in the conference room physically, or is it? Then, suddenly your fierce feline jumps up on the desk and turns her attention to your face leaving her, umm, back asset facing the webcam. Pets are funny and can be a welcoming ice breaker.

pet distractions

 

The cons of working at home with pets:

Curiosity – This is the flip side of the ice breaker. Sometimes our furbabies' interest can go a little too far and become a significant disruption. It's hard to control something when we don't know when it will happen. How we react, however, is the key. I've stopped worrying so much about my cat's interruptions and just go with it. Most days, I can get her to settle in my lap with minimum distraction.

Pet boredom – You are home, so to your fluffy little furball, that means you're at their disposal - It's playtime! To help alleviate the boredom factor, set up play times with your pet throughout the day. In the morning, for example, before you start your work day, and again at the end. The important thing to remember is to have consistent interaction times. Consistent routines are very beneficial for pets and will help relieve anxiety disorders. Keeping to the same schedule as much as possible is good for them and you.

pay attention to me

Disruptions - When you work from home and have pets, disruptions will happen, The sudden and immediate need to go outside, a frantic barking session, or the chasing of a "ghost" mouse. Aside from locking yourself in a separate room away from your pets, there isn't much you can do to prevent these disruptions, which, as we know, usually happen at the most inopportune time.

 🐾🐾🐾 

looking for a fresh start

5 Questions to Ask When Looking for a Fresh Start

looking for a fresh start

5 Questions to Ask When Looking for a Fresh Start

TASK Virtual Assistant

That's it. You've had it. Life is just not going as well as you'd like. It's time for a change, a Fresh Start! Sometimes starting over and cleaning off the slate is just what the doctor ordered. I should know; I'm the Fresh Start Queen. But how do you know where to begin? How do you know if you need a fresh start or maybe just a break?

It's simple. You start by asking yourself these five questions:

1. What Do You Really Desire?

Too often, what we think is a change in our life is nothing more than a dressed-up version of the old. To avoid falling into this trap, you must look at real and actual change.

Start by asking these hard questions:

  1. What do you want out of the change?
    • Probably the most important question, so spend some time with it. Be brutally honest with yourself. Even if it's only to spend Saturday morning watching cartoons as when we were kids, you must understand exactly what you want.
  2. How are you not getting this in your current situation?
    • Remember the saying, "You can't see the forest through the trees," and dig deep here. Take off those blinders and look around.
  3. What would you need to do to attain this?
    • Create your roadmap. Write out a few SMART goals and create your plan to make this change happen.
  4. And finally, what's one positive change you can make right now that will place you closer to this dream?
    • Declare your desires as if you have already obtained them. Speak affirmatively about your needs rather than focus on what you do not have or dissatisfaction.

2. How Many Risks Are You Willing to Take?

Fresh starts will demand a commitment from you, which manifests in how much of yourself you are willing to put into the project. If you are not willing to risk a new way of life or much in the form of change, you will not have much success.

I mentioned earlier that I am the Queen of Fresh Starts. I've never been one to shy away from going after what I want. About fifteen years ago, I made a huge decision to start a new life. As the Little Rascal's song goes, "packed what I could, sold what I couldn't, stopped to fill up on my way out of town," and my next verse was "start spreading the news…" and just like that, I left my job, my family, my home and moved to New York.

I didn't know anyone in New York, but I had accepted a contract position as a network administrator and knew this was the opportunity I had been looking for my entire life. So I took the risk, and those who know me will tell you, it was the best thing I ever did for myself.

3. What is Different About the Life You're Proposing

If you are looking for a new beginning, there must be something 'new,' or you are not starting over. Instead, you are merely continuing what you've been doing all along. So, what is the thing you haven't done before?

For me, it was freefalling. I didn't have a backup plan this time because I never once thought I was making a mistake. 

4. What Are You Giving Up?

A new beginning means something else is ending. So what are you leaving behind? 

I was giving up the stability of my family and friends, of knowing an area so well I could make it home blindfolded. I was giving up my comfort zone. 

Remember that this question doesn't imply you must abandon every aspect of your past. Sometimes we are leaving behind only a small part of our life.

5. Are You Truly Ready to Let Go of the Past?

This last question can be challenging because you might not know the answer until you have begun. Your fresh start will fail if your past baggage is weighing you down. At the very least, it helps to have a positive attitude about letting go and are willing to do the work to make this happen.

In the end, these questions will give you some idea of what to expect as you embark on this journey of letting go. After all, being prepared truly is half the battle.

declutter your desk

Declutter Your Workspace to Boost Productivity

declutter your desk

Declutter Your Workspace to Boost Productivity

TASK Virtual Assistant

August is the perfect month to declutter! A couple of years ago, I followed Marie Kondo’s advice and completely purged and got rid of everything that didn’t give me joy. It was not an easy path to take, but I will admit, I felt much joy after. The feeling of peace, and weightlessness, was just overwhelming. I’ve never considered myself a hoarder, but I am a “filler”, meaning I have to fill every border space inside my walls.

I had odd tables, chairs, benches, pillows, blankets, baskets, clothes, and of course, my shoes! What possessed me to go through this process? I moved to a much smaller apartment. It was very nice, and I was able to remodel it to fit me, but did I mention much smaller?? I am so grateful for a very understanding landlord!

I had boxes in the building foyer, boxes in my old apartment, and boxes in my new apartment, and he made space for me in the garage.  I knew what I had to do, and it wouldn’t be easy.

First, let me give credit where credit is due. If you ever have to go through a significant purging process as I did, I recommend the Tidy Up process with Marie Kondo. It’s gut-wrenching, emotional, temper-tantrum throwing, but it works.

We’ve tidied up our space, maybe even decluttered our minds in the process, but how about our workspace? When was the last time you saw the top of your desk?

We may not be able to go to the Marie Kondo extreme for our everyday work lives, but I have some tips I have used and still use that I hope will help.

I know There's A Desk Under There...Somewhere

Take an honest look at your workspace. What bothers you the most about it? Is it the stacks of unfiled papers or the empty coffee cups? Visualize how you want your desk to look and write down a list of changes to make it happen.

Start with unfiled papers. Add an inbox where you will place all incoming paperwork. This could be incoming mail, papers you need to review, or work to do. The point is to have one place for all new papers, so you know you have to deal with them.  I have a set of three trays for my inbox, stuff to review, and stuff to file.

As you go through the papers in the inbox, separate the things that need your immediate attention, things that have important dates or contact information, and those that you can handle at another time. Write meeting information in your calendar, add contact information to your address book or card file, and either file the paper where it belongs or get rid of it.

Create a simple filing system to keep important papers. This could include a tickler file you will look at when the day begins. A tickler file is a 31-day system that allows you to place papers you will need for the future. It is a reminder system to ensure you handle future items on time. I use the smaller post-it notes with a drop dead date written on them and stick them on the edge of the paper. This way, I can quickly see what needs my attention. Once you have your system in place, use it daily to keep papers from piling up again

A Place For Everything And Everything In Its Place.

Finally, clear all of the paperwork from your desk, even if it means only stacking it in the inbox so you can see what else you have to do. Clear the desk of all other items and decide to create a specific home for each one. If there are some office supplies that you use regularly, you will want to have them available when you need them. You will want to place anything you do not regularly use in a drawer or cabinet. When you have a place for everything, put each item where it “lives” when it is not in use.

Devote A Few Minutes A Day To Organization

Before leaving, take a few minutes to prepare for tomorrow, and put away things you used during the day. And don't forget to make tomorrow's task list tonight.

Yes, I probably sound like a broken record here, but I cannot emphasize enough how important a task list is – they keep you focused, clear your headspace, show you what your day looks like at-a-glance, and so much more!

If you know me by now, you know I will say, at the end of each workday, set yourself up for the following morning. Before you leave to go home, create your priority list for the next day. But don't stress if you didn’t do it the night before! You’ll get into the habit soon enough. So, for now, set a few minutes aside in the morning and create your list. Put the three most important tasks on the list. These three priorities are the most critical tasks you must focus on.

Once your desk is cleared off, do your best to keep it that way. Take 15 minutes at the end of the day to clear off the desk, so you have a blank slate when the new day starts. Work at keeping your desk cleared for a week before you begin focusing on the cluttered next area of your workspace.

know the signs of burnout

Know The Signs Of Burnout

know the signs of burnout

Know The Signs Of Burnout

task virtual assistant
Burnout is often mistaken for being overworked, burning the candle at both ends, all work no play, you get the idea. And while yes, all those can and will lead to burnout, it's also important to know there are other factors such as hating your job, your situation, or not getting the support or appreciation you need from others. The thing is burnout can be prevented if you know what to watch for and what to avoid.

 

First, understand that burnout is essentially a state of chronic bad stress that leads to physical and emotional exhaustion, detachment and cynicism, feelings that you aren’t accomplishing anything, and that everything you do is ineffective and doesn’t matter. While, at the same time, feeling irreplaceable and unable to say no to anything. It’s like being stuck in a revolving door. Many new entrepreneurs experience this in the form of imposter syndrome, meaning they lack confidence in their skills and work twice as hard to prove they are "worthy". This can start a downward negative spiral about what they're doing, and soon, all the joy and anticipation felt when they first embarked disappears as they work harder and harder but never get anywhere. You’re tired, overworked, and not accomplishing your goals. In all the chaos, you may not even have goals to check.  So what can you do? The best way to protect yourself against burnout is to understand the signs to watch out for.

 

One or more of the following signs can signal either outright burnout or the potential to experience burnout if mitigation methods aren’t imposed.

 

Chronic Fatigue and Insomnia

It’s often one of the first signs. If you are always tired, or you can’t sleep, or both, primarily due to circular thoughts about the work you’re doing, it can be due to burnout or approaching burnout. Get checked out by your doctor to ensure you don't have any physical reason that keeps you up at night. Then try meditating, or deep breathing exercises, twice a day. 5 minutes in the morning, and 5-10 minutes at night before bedtime. Also, make sure you're getting some physical exertion during the day - a 30-minute walk will do wonders to help your brain turn off the daytime drama.

 

Forgetfulness, Lack of Productivity and Poor Performance

Directly related to fatigue and insomnia. When you can’t sleep well or concentrate, it is natural that you may forget things, not work fast as you did before, and do things poorly. If this continues unchecked, you will end up in that revolving door. Practice self-care now.

 

Inattentiveness and Detachment

It’s hard to focus and pay attention when you’re suffering from burnout, and it can look like detachment and even inattentiveness. If you have been accused of this by someone else, pay attention.

 

Isolation, Apathy, and Hopelessness

When burnout gets really bad, you might want to pull away from others due to not caring about anything. If you feel like your actions don’t matter, it can lead to hopelessness. If you find yourself self-isolating or feeling like it will never get better, talk to someone. A trusted friend, clergyman, family member. Oftentimes just reaching out will help turn things around.

 

Illness and Physical Symptoms

The thing about mental and emotional distress, they can lead to physical illness. You can become more susceptible to colds and infections because your defenses are down. If you're suddenly getting sick for no reason - ok the toddler's birthday party last week might have played a role - It could be a sign to look at your self-care routine. .

 

Lack of Appetite or Poor Diet

All the feelings you’re experiencing can cause you to either not eat at all or eat very poorly. It might not seem apparent immediately but eating a diet high in nutrition is one of the ways to avoid burnout and adverse health outcomes such as diabetes.

 

Anxiety and Depression

Mental illness can also rear it’s head as you are experiencing burnout. Sometimes it’s due to nutritional imbalances, or chemical imbalances, but sometimes it’s situational. Depression is not to be ignored.

Anger, Pessimism, and Loss of Enjoyment

When you are experiencing the brunt of burnout, you may act out with hostility due to being disillusioned about business and life. You may micromanage your employees, or show annoyance towards a client. If you aren’t enjoying it and feel like you never will, you will in all likeliness experience burnout.

 

If you aren’t enjoying your business or your life as you once did, and the feelings of discontentment are intruding on your ability to move forward, you may be experiencing burnout. If you think you are, it’s a good idea to start right now, today, creating a plan that will work better for you as an entrepreneur. After all, you deserve all the good things in life, including security, satisfaction, and joy.

 

If you feel depressed, or find yourself idealizing death, please seek professional medical care. You can call the US National Suicide hotline to get help at 1-800-273-8255.

Trying to do it all?  Imagine if you could get rid of all the time-wasting tasks that clog up your schedule, and just focus on what matters most to your business. Sounds good, right?

Contact me at Info@thetaskva.com for more information, or schedule a quick 15-minute chat.

Take our quiz and see if you need a helping hand

customer care

High-Touch Customer Care

customer care

High-Touch Customer Care

TASK Virtual Assistant

Gary Vaynerchuk, serial entrepreneur and one of the most sought-after public speakers today, has stated that the best marketing strategy ever is to simply care, and high-touch marketing shows that you care.

Now imagine if you took that same marketing strategy and used it in your customer care program.

High Touch, as defined by yourdictionary.com, is dealing with or interacting with a human being as opposed to transacting with computers or high-tech.

High-touch customer care focuses on human interaction, dealing with or interacting with your clients as human beings in a personal and empathetic way using low-tech methods.

High-touch involves ensuring that you increase the human factor in all your client-facing efforts. Even though most of your business may be conducted online today, your customers still value social interaction, and because of this fact, high-touch methods can be the differentiator for your accounting firm.

As an Accountant or CPA, there is one thing that can set your business apart from the giant multinational corporate firms - the individual care you can give a client. You can offer a better experience to your clients because you understand their journey and how it relates to what you can offer them at that point in terms of service and education.

High-touch consists of creating hyper-personalized experiences for your clients.

Clients value experiences today more than ever in the history of humans. The great thing is that you can do that more easily because, as a small Accounting firm, you are able to personalize the client experience, individually. The hard part is developing that experience, virtually.

Many Accountants and CPAs had to pivot to a virtual environment during the Covid-19 Pandemic, and, as a result, those online businesses and websites had a more attentive audience.  Now that restrictions have lifted and people are slowly returning to a life outside their home, and away from the computer, you want to be careful with how you nurture that audience; finding the correct balance to keeping their attention, without coming across as a used-car salesman.

Clients Want to Feel Special

The higher value client experience will translate into your customers feeling like VIPs.

When clients feel like very important people, they are more willing to pay more for that upgraded experience. People will pay for value and feeling special makes them feel important.

High-touch customer care creates excitement and passion because they are getting more of what they really want from you. That means your client is likely to stick with you long-term, thus increasing your lifetime earnings from each new client acquisition. And, as you develop more trust through your actions, your clients will transform into advocates for your brand.

The most important marketing skill you have is to listen to your clients.

Really get to know your client.  Read all correspondence between your firm and the client. Take notes about their problems, issues, and happiness. Fill in the information in your client file as you discover it.

Using your client files, create a full profile for each of your top clients that include their name, demographics, family information, services they receive from you and potential areas of growth, communication history, social media profiles, websites, and more. The more information you can find that is relevant to your offerings, the better.

Do make sure to set a schedule for learning about your top clients, as doing this can be remarkably interesting but quite time-consuming.

Create personalized interactive communities for your VIP customers to join and really bring the conversation with your best clients to a new level. Bring your clients closer to you so that you can help them more and they can learn more. The more open you are, and the more they learn from you, the more likely they are going to stick around when you announce your price increases.

Another way to get to know your clients is through their websites.  Find their websites if they have them based on the information you can find in your system. If they do not have websites, that’s okay. You can find out information by who they follow on social media, and the sites they like to visit.

Social Media is Not a One-Way Virtual Street...

Friend/Follow their social media. Ensure that you follow or friend them based on the information they have given to you. If you discover that you do not have that much information on them, see if you can find them following you on your social media platforms so you can follow them back. If not, invite them to follow you so you can follow them back.

High-touch customer care is using personalized marketing methods that provide a lot of human touchpoints and can easily be incorporated into your business model by:

More Segmentation – The more you can segment your audience, the better. Using the technology to break down your customers into smaller, more personalized groups will help you develop the right offers as well as content to market those offers.

Extreme Personalization – With extreme personalization, it can’t be automated. This is going to include doing things just for one client at a time. For example, sending a thank you note in the mail after they sign on.

Personal Phone Calls – Give your clients a call to thank them and offer your personal help. Most of the time, you’ll end up leaving a message, but they’ll still feel super special getting a call of thanks from you.

Relationship Building – Find out who your top ten clients are and focus on following them on social media and interacting with them more. You can also send surveys to incorporate technology in helping build the relationships closer.

Customized Packages and Offers – Develop a special offer that is just for your top ten. Talk to them and let them tell you what they want, then give it to them.

Ultimately, high-touch customer care is all about super personalized marketing that provides a way for you to include your unique human touch for your clients - all of them, not just the top ten.

Incorporating high-touch customer care into your business model is going to grow your business and your bottom line like nothing before! It is truly a win-win for you and your clients.

Wondering if you need a virtual assistant? Imagine if you could get rid of all the time-wasting tasks that clog up your schedule, and just focus on what matters most to your business. Sounds good, right?

Contact me at Info@thetaskva.com for more information, or schedule a quick 15-minute chat.

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customer care

5 Reasons How Client Communications Can Go Wrong

customer care

5 Reasons How Client Communications Can Go Wrong

TASK Virtual Assistant

Your clients are willing to put their trust and faith in your ability to deliver the tax and accounting services they need. But this is a type of trust that can be easily broken.

One reason clients quickly lose confidence in you is the lure of the competition. Maybe they've heard good things about the company down the road, and they're wondering if the grass is greener with those guys.

Maybe they're worried about money and subconsciously looking for any reason to break up with you in a professional sense so they can rationalize not investing.

Here are some common reasons why your client communication can go wrong and how that ultimately breaks their trust in you.

Becoming too personal with clients

There is a fine line between showing your humanity to people with whom you do business and over-disclosing.

Over disclosure means sharing personal details that are irrelevant to the client's reason for coming to you.

For example, maybe the client needs your guidance on managing finances more effectively. A revealing conversation about your recent divorce would not be relevant to the topic in question. It might even have the client thinking less of you for being unprofessional.

These talks may ultimately lead you to a broken client agreement or an order that never materializes. Therefore, it's best to avoid getting too personal when dealing with people professionally.

Overwhelming clients with too much information

Your clients come to you wanting help, guidance, or solutions. For example, they may need an expert to prepare their taxes, provide payroll services, or other accounting needs.

Overwhelming clients with too much information means getting too deep into your offer's finer points. It's more than likely that they only need an overview to help them understand your competence and capabilities. And they require time to digest the information piece by piece mentally.

If you throw it all at them, they might even think of you as less of an expert when all is said and done.

A professional presentation typically contains clear, concise, well-ordered points that support the main idea and provide enough supporting detail to facilitate meaning.

Going off on side tangents in your client communication does not lend credibility in their estimation.

Not providing enough information

On the other hand, one sure-fire way to break trust with your clients is not to provide enough detail.

We talked about over-delivering, but probably a more common predicament is the company whose clients come to them with unmet communication expectations.

There is a delicate balance between over and underwhelming your clients. So naturally, you want to walk this fine line if you hope to gain their admiration, respect, and trust in your ability.

If you have trouble knowing how much is too much versus not enough info to provide clients, try crafting it in advance and use it as a guide during your conversation.

Providing irrelevant details

The problem of providing details that the client may not need likely stems from an accountant's need to prove their expertise.

The client may initially be impressed by your accumulated knowledge, sure. But ultimately, if the topic gets off track with their problems and how to solve them, the client will leave the conversation scratching their head. In addition, irrelevant information will leave them wondering if they should have gone with someone else who's work is more relevant to them.

If you have trouble sticking to the main issue when talking with clients, you might try preparing a script for each type of problem that people will likely come to you with needing your expertise to solve.

Don't read off the script like you're in the school play. Instead, use it to cement the thoughts in your mind. Then, practice a bit with the script in hand so you can convey your thoughts in an organized fashion when the time comes.

Not personalizing your message

Your clients know when you are reading off a script.

Most of us have experienced the frustration of sitting on a client service call and hearing phony, scripted questions like "How can I make your day great," your clients are not likely to fall for a dialogue between you and them that takes place with you reciting lines off a cue card.

If you are not in a profession where talking comes naturally, you can give yourself a cheat sheet by writing out a few bulleted points on note cards to help you keep client calls flowing productively.

However, in time you should become more comfortable with speaking to clients. If you organize the points you want to make and continue to practice saying them naturally and conversationally, eventually, you'll find that the cards are no longer necessary.

Do you control your day, or do your tasks control you? Take our short quiz and find out. The results may surprise you (or maybe not).

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client communication

How To Communicate With Your Client

client communication

How To Communicate With Your Client

TASK Virtual Assistant

As a small accounting firm, your main goal is to deliver an exceptional client experience to everyone who solicits you for business.

However, building trust and confidence in your clients isn't just about offering a great product or delivering world-class service. Well, it is, but it's also more than that.

Communication plays a huge role in whether people decide to become repeat clients of yours.

After all, even if we're doing our very best job for people, sometimes things go wrong that are outside the realm of our control. Let's face it, most accounting clients dread hearing from their accountant. Very rarely is it good news.

You must be able to communicate effectively and quickly with your clients. How you handle the difficult moments and how you choose to communicate with clients during a high-pressure situation is the real test that determines whether or not they'll return again despite the difficulties that cropped up.

Remember, how you communicate to your clients is the key to helping them grow confidence in your ability to deliver. Therefore, it's crucial that you:

🗝  Remain calm and reassuring throughout your ongoing dialogue with clients.

🗝  Convey a certain sense of empathy so the client will get the impression that you genuinely care.

🗝  When circumstances call for it, apologize or offer to make good on a situation if necessary.

🗝  Help clients stay on track with shared goals rather than dwelling on what may not have happened.

It also helps to remind them why they chose you. It would be best if you always infused the following in any communication with clients:

✔️The value you provide to them.

✔️ How it can help them.

✔️ Let them know they have options and tell them why they are.

✔️ This is also an excellent time to review what you need from them to keep the job moving forward.

And always let them know who to contact if they need support.

Do you control your day, or do your tasks control you? Take our short quiz and find out. The results may surprise you (or maybe not).

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client communication

When Do Clients Need To Hear From Us?

client communication

When Do Clients Need To Hear From Us?

TASK Virtual Assistant

During a business transaction, there are critical times that communication is vital to keep clients feeling like you are in touch and engaged with their unique situation.

Remember that your goal with a recap message is to build a relationship with the client and not just sell to them.

The best recap emails summarize the discovery into two or four key points. First, they reinforce the decision to move forward. A recap email can confirm the next call's date, purpose, and plan. Third, it builds accountability and keeps the lines of communication open.

Your clients will appreciate the communication you are providing. And, they'll be more likely to hire you if you send them an excellent recap email.

So, what are the key points in a project that need a recap or communication?

  1. In the beginning, the introductory phase of your association.
  2. At the start of your project - the kickoff.
  3. At any time they feel confused.
  4. Through each new step of the process.
  5. Whenever there is a delay or problem.
  6. At the project's close, the end of the order or the wrap-up of your business with them.

1. In the beginning

A potential client will make a series of decisions before settling on you as their chosen Accountant.

One might consider the introductory phase to be the most important. Remember, you never get a second chance at a first impression. Therefore, it would help if you communicated clearly and confidently what the client could expect from you during the entire transaction.

Help the client visualize doing business with you by laying out the process with simple, easy-to-understand steps.

Create a simple project map, bulleting each phase with necessary details such as what the client will need to provide and anticipated turnaround times. This will go a long way toward helping them understand what will happen and who will be responsible for what along the way.

Finally, you'll want to exchange contact details and any other pertinent information such as account numbers, personal identification, and any relevant matters that pertain to the service or products you'll be providing to them.

2. The Kickoff

Once the introductory phase is complete, you will want to help clients stay on track with the timing and details of any work you do for them. You can fill them in on exactly what will happen, so they know what to expect going forward.

One helpful piece of communication that you can hand out as you onboard new clients is the Welcome Email or Welcome Letter.

The welcome message gives a client the confidence you are committing to them and that the two of you (or a group if that's relevant) are partnering or teaming up for success.

You should customize the content of your welcome message according to the client, the specific project, and an estimated timeline of how long it will take. Streamline this process with a general timeline for your template, but insert details before printing and handing it to the client.

3. When They Feel Confused

New clients tend to ask specific questions. You may even notice that most of the new clients you deal with have the same questions as other clients did when they first began working with you.

You may feel like a broken record giving the same answers repeatedly all day long, which results in a lot of unnecessary email typing and talking on the phone.

Of course, the accounting and tax preparation business you have lends itself to talking on the phone or in person with clients, and you may not have the option of getting out of this.

However, the simple addition of an FAQ area of your website, or FAQ handout you provide to clients, can drastically cut down on the amount of time you spend explaining things to the people who solicit your services.

Your Frequently Asked Questions handout should include all aspects of your business that tend to confuse people the most.

What do people always ask you? Write that down. Then think of other things they ask you. Brainstorm "through your client's mind," list out, and answer.

You can continue to build on your FAQ, modifying it from time to time. Any time a client comes to you wanting clarification on something, write down their question. Then take some time to answer it in detail, and add it to your FAQ file.

4. Every Step of the Way

A quick email message signals forward momentum in your step-by-step process with clients. Of course, it only takes a short, written wrap-up to let them know a phase is complete, but this brief message will add to the confidence and trust your client holds in you.

At each step, you can sum up:

  1. What was accomplished during this step.
  2. Any deliverables you provided (so they can be reminded of the ongoing value you deliver to them).
  3. Any problems that came up during this step.
  4. Any outstanding items that will need to be addressed.
  5. What to expect in the next step.
  6. How long you expect the next step to take.

5. Another Delay!?

Delays of any kind will cause your clients to doubt you and begin to worry. They may fear that you will not be able to deliver the end product the way they prefer or in the allotted time frame. In addition, they may worry that you cannot be trusted - after all, they likely don't even know you.

A brief and reassuring message that lets them know you are handling their issue or attending to their details quickly and thoroughly will ease their discomfort.

As you work on similar projects for various clients, you will notice a pattern of issues that may come up repeatedly. For example, a recurring problem with Accounting firms is that the client does not promptly provide the necessary information.

You can work through this challenge by creating a short template of common problems. For example, your template can explain the delay, or it might make a request for the client to fulfill, which applies to each type of delay.

Keep the messages you create in your file of templates. Print or email and use as necessary when future clients voice complaints about things outside your control realm.

If problems occur that you know you can handle but must be worked through in a routine fashion, your proactive message will go a long way to dispel their fears, increasing their trust in you as their chosen provider.

6. That's a Wrap!

When your work for the client concludes, send them a brief wrap-up bulleting the work completed.

Thank them for their business and remind them that if they have any questions or would like to leave a positive review, please reach out to you via email, phone, or whatever your preferred method of communication may be.

One last thing:

Keep invoicing separate from the "final wrap-up" message - these should be two separate areas, as you do not want your clients thinking about payment in the same context as what was delivered.

 

connect, clients, customer care

The Importance of Connecting With Clients

connect, clients, customer care

The Importance of Connecting With Clients

TASK Virtual Assistant

It is vital to connect with your accounting clients and be there to answer all of their questions. The people who come to you for professional help do so because you deliver something that they cannot or do not want to handle on their own. They're hoping that you can fulfill their needs somehow, and they look to you as an expert guide. Naturally, therefore, they require your help in solving their problems.

Perhaps they seek support around an overwhelming, confusing task that falls outside their realm of understanding or capability. You can either do the task or guide your client through the details, allowing them to master and manage the steps on their own with ease.

Think about this from the perspective of your clients. They need help, and they're seeking it from you. Selecting a person, group of people or entire organization to help handle essential details of your business is no small matter.

So when your potential clients decide that it's time to fork over their hard-earned cash to solicit your support that brings them closer to their goals, they're always going to search for that one intangible thing.

Do you know what it is?

The thing that your clients and potential clients want from you is trust. They want to walk into a business relationship with a sense of trust from the start. So, what sort of trust are clients hoping to find in you?

✨They want to trust your expertise and your ability to solve their challenge.

✨They want to trust that you're keeping their needs on the highest priority.

✨They want to trust that you will provide high value with your services.

✨They want to trust that you won't rip them off

✨They want to trust that you won't do something unethical in your business dealings with them.

How do you arrive at a place of trust with people, so they feel ready to take the next step and do business with you?

How do you cultivate trust with a new client so they'll return again and again for repeat business?

The way to get people to trust you is to establish a rapport with them.

1️⃣ Kick-off with a getting-to-know-you dialog. Keep the conversation about the client and their wants and needs.

2️⃣  Keep your client engaged at all times. The dialogue doesn't end after the introductions and proverbial or literal handshake.

3️⃣  After the intro conversation, guide your clients through the phases of the business you are handling for them or the transaction you are carrying out on their behalf.

Your clients want to get the sense that you are "with them" every step of the way, and the best way to deliver this is through effective communication that reaches them at key points in the project or process that you're taking them through, at the times when they need it most.