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time management

5 Tips To Stay Ahead Of The Curve

time management

5 Tips to Stay Ahead of the Curve

task virtual assistant

Running an accounting firm is not easy, and oftentimes, not the most exciting. There are so many mundane, everyday tasks necessary to keep the business running. Tasks such as filing, billing, and data entry bog down a daily task list; they have to be done, but not by you! Hiring a virtual assistant can be a simple solution. But how do you know when to outsource? These five tips will keep you ahead of the curve by helping you sort through your tasks and decide what you can do and what you could be letting someone else do.

1. Set S.M.A.R.T Goals

Have you looked at where your firm is, and where you want it to be? Do you have a clear road map to get there? Many times, we fail to reach our goals because we haven’t defined them clearly. It’s simply not enough to say, “I want to make more money this year,” or “I’d like to spend more time with my family.” Your goals need to be very specific. They should provide direction, and motivation, and clarify the importance of what you’re aiming for. Setting up SMART goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely is a recipe for success! So, instead of "I want to make more money this year", say, "I will increase sales 17% by end of Q4".

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2. Know Your Why

Once you settle on a goal and a specific target, you need to clarify the purpose of the goal, or ‘your why’ If your goal, for example, is to increase earnings over last year, determine WHY you need more money. Do you want to take on more clients, or maybe you want to staff the office?

 

The ‘why’ is more important than the ‘what’.  Your ‘why’ is the foundation, the passion driving you. If you lose sight of why you have settled on your goal, it will be much more difficult to stay motivated.

3. Work Smarter Not Harder!

Building a successful accounting firm isn’t easy. Many accountants burn out within the first 5 years. They lose the passion and the drive that is necessary to stay competitive, especially if they are too busy working 70+ hours a week. Believe it or not, there is proven research behind the 40-hour workweek. It wasn’t designed to help workers, but to boost productivity, which has been shown to drop dramatically after working more than 40 hours per week for a month. Being busy is not the same as being productive.

 

time management

Let me say that again - Being busy is not the same as being productive.  Top performers focus on the activities that support their goals. They leverage technology and other services to help them be more productive.

4. Create A Daily Task CheckList

If I were asked which one of the five tips I'm providing is the most important, it would be this one. A task checklist is a visual tool of accountability.  Start the first 10 minutes of your day by writing down all the things you need to accomplish. Ask yourself: which activities generate the most income? Begin prioritizing your most income-producing tasks first using the Eisenhower matrix:

time management

1. Do First

Tasks in the green box should be the core tasks that directly earn you money such as responding to new leads and current clients.

2. Schedule

Important, but not urgent tasks belong in the blue box.  Schedule tasks like continuing education, reading the latest IRS updates and researching virtual assistants.

3. Delegate

The yellow box should be reserved for less important tasks, but need to be done rather quickly. These are tasks that do not necessarily have to be done by you. These tasks can and should be, delegated to someone else. Hiring a Virtual Assistant is a great way to delegate tasks.

4. Don’t do

The red box is for STOP. These are the tasks that aren’t helping you at all. For most people, these will be time-wasters such as spending time on social media related. For example, have you been spending an hour a day on Facebook with nothing to show for it? Probably time for a new strategy. These tasks should definitely be turned over to a Virtual Assistant.

Prioritizing your daily tasks will make you that much more productive and mindful of how you spend your time. By using a Task Checklist daily, you’ll start to recognize patterns in your routine and find solutions to improve your results.

5. Hire a Virtual Assistant

 

No one person can do it all. Delegate or outsource everything except the stuff you’re good at because it allows you to focus on the tasks that you’re amazing at, like analyzing the numbers!

Virtual AssistantLook back on your daily task checklist, how many of the tasks are not high priority or goal-oriented, but need to get done? How many of those tasks can you delegate to your VA - social media accounts, your monthly mailings, engagement letters, administrative tasks.

A virtual assistant is your customizable asset!

defining a virtual assistant

Getting the Help You Need Virtually

defining a virtual assistant

Getting the Help You Need Virtually

Defining A Virtual Assistant

task virtual assistant

Keeping up with all of the routines can be difficult for those who work hard in their company or personal life.  There are fifty million things to accomplish in one day with too little time and too few people to help.  If you want to begin saving time, you can invest in a virtual assistant who will take some extra things off your plate.

The best way to evaluate whether you need a virtual assistant (VA) or not is to see what you are doing all day.  If you are spending time on administrative correspondence and not your vision, then a virtual assistant might be the right answer.

When you need an extra helping hand, look to a virtual assistant.  Most VAs offer a variety of services, from administrative to technical to creative, and will advertise themselves in their area of expertise.  For example, some assistants will focus on designing websites for you and maintaining the website or database after completion.

One of the benefits of hiring a virtual assistant is cost savings.  They will work for you from their own home office; they are not employees, so you do not need to pay employee tax or benefits. Partnering with a VA allows you to pay for the work you need and not for idle time.  Simply put, if there is no work, you don't pay them.

Finding A Virtual Assistant

Finding the right virtual assistant means looking into the most well-known areas for virtual assistants.  There are many resources available, all of which can help get you to the right person.  For example, VANetworking, the VA industry's market leader since 2003,  thoroughly vets their VA's and the businesses looking to hire and will help you find the best Virtual Assistant for your business needs.

Pricing a Virtual Assistant

As a business owner, you know the important questions to ask before you get involved in anything.  One of the common questions you have probably grown familiar with asking is, "how much will this cost me?" Knowing how much each service will cost with a virtual assistant can help you define what work you want and need to complete and what isn't essential to get done.

Pricing systems vary among VAs. Some will charge by the hour or on retainers, and others might have standard pricing for projects or packages such as website maintenance or social media management.

Long-Term or Short-Term

You can hire a VA for long-term management projects, such as ongoing social media management, or short-term projects, such as planning an upcoming event or building a website.

Short-term projects usually focus on a specific function or task; however, they can also be on-going, such as performing maintenance, which requires regular updating.  For example, bookkeeping is typically a short-term project because it only needs to be maintained once every quarter.

No matter what type of extra help you need, you can find a virtual assistant who will see your vision and help you to reach your goal.  You can easily find a virtual assistant who will do what is in your company's best interest.

Have questions? I'm here to help! Set up a NO OBLIGATION, and TOTALLY FREE call to discover the possibilities!

Outsourcing

Outsourcing: The Key to Success

Outsourcing

Outsourcing: The Key to Success

task virtual assistant

Think back to when you first set out to build your business. Do you remember what your “wants” were? For most, whether building a small business or becoming an entrepreneur, the first need, or “want,” was to have a business that provided the income you needed without overtaking your life.  Working in the Corporate world was sucking your life away. Sure, you had an awesome career, maybe an excellent salary and title, but at what cost? Long commutes, long hours, you were missing out on the joy of life. So you decided to take matters into your own hands.

Fast forward – six months? One year? Five years? Are you enjoying your business success, living that full and rich life, both professionally and personally? If you are, Congratulations! But I’d be willing to bet you are still overworked.  So how do you build that successful business and get everything you want? The key is outsourcing.

My Story

My story is very similar to many independent contractors. I was in the Corporate world, living the dream. I had an excellent, well-established career, a fantastic salary and benefits, and a commute from hell. But I loved my job. Then my company had a corporation-wide restructuring, and I found myself without a job. Trying to land another job in an unstable and volatile employment outlook proved futile and frustrating, so I stopped looking and decided to build my own business. My first thought was, “what do I want to be when I grow up.” After careful deliberation, I knew what would make me happiest would be helping others.   I thrived when I was employed as a secretary, an administrative assistant, even an assistant manager. I was at my best in these positions because I was helping, I felt needed, and I knew I was making someone’s life a little bit easier.

So I did what makes sense to me, leveraged all my years of experience and skillset, and became a virtual assistant to help give you back your time to do the things you love, to focus on growing that business you worked hard to build. This is the number one reason why virtual assistants exist and why we outsource our skills to you. Keep on reading to learn how outsourcing helps your business.

How Will Outsourcing Help My Business?

  • Grow - Well planned outsourcing can improve your efficiency, cut costs, speed up product creation, and give you time to focus on the important planning and directing that a business owner must do, aside from doing the actual tasks in the business.
  • Boost Resources - adds key resources and skills to your arsenal. No need to learn how to manipulate Excel or take a coding class when you can hire someone to do it when you need it.
  • Save Money - Outsourcing means you use an independent contractor only when you need them and not pay someone for non-productive hours.
  • Remove Bottlenecks - When you start to outsource tasks in your business, you’ll notice bottlenecks start to clear up, and tasks are being completed more efficiently. Because the truth is, in most small businesses, the bottleneck is the business owner.
  • Frees Up Your Time – As a business owner, you have a lot to do, but you don’t have to do it all. You started your business to offer your expertise, your point of difference, not spend your day on mundane and overwhelming tasks. By hiring an independent contractor, you focus your talent on doing things that only you can do.
  • Improve Customer Satisfaction and Reviews – The truth is, someone else can probably do some things better than you. Because of that, if you outsource to the right people for the right things, you can improve your offers, thus improving your customer satisfaction dramatically.

How Do I Outsource Successfully?

Before you start the search, define what it is you want to have done. Being clear on the parameters of your project is half the battle.

  • Evaluate contractors carefully – Look at testimonials, examples, and always make sure they are who they say they are. If needed, ask for personal references. Most independent contractors will not be willing to provide client contact information but may have personal references available.
  • Make your decision based on their skill and expertise, not price – Don’t always hire people based on the lowest price. Sometimes a higher price ends up being a lower price due to time and expertise. “You get what you pay for” is true for outsourcing.
  • Start Small – Choosing a small task or project to outsource will help you determine how well they meet deadlines and stand by their work, as well as fit in your environment. They may be capable, but a bad match will leave you feeling frustrated.

Outsourcing is the biggest key to your freedom. Remember that many things you need to be done can be done by someone else. You really can hire experts remotely for a lot less than you think and increase the capabilities of your business fast. I'm going to leave you with a few final tips to help you choose your awesome, amazing independent contractor for your business needs:

  1. Know What You Want – Write a detailed job or project description highlighting the expected deliverables, timetable, and budget.
  2. It’s OK to hire more than one contractor for a project – Hiring out for parts of a project, such as writing, editing, and formatting, may turn out a better product. And if one gets sick, the project doesn’t come to a halt or fall back on you.
  3. Know Your Budget – You need to know the range you’re able to pay for the projects you’re trying to outsource.
  4. Do Your Research – Visit their website, check out their social media pages, read their reviews and testimonials. Remember the saying, “if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.” Always check up on anyone you plan to work with, especially if they will be associated with your business name in any way. You would do this if you were hiring an employee, and you should do it anytime you plan to have someone work in your company, no matter the status.
  5. Respect Their Business – Chances are, your independent contract will not be exclusive to you as they are not your employee. How many active clients they have or how they produce your deliverables is not any of your concerns. The important part is that they deliver the results you paid for, on time, as per the agreement you both sign.
  6. Communicate Regularly and Quickly – A regular touch base is important, especially with long-term projects or retainer bases services such as office admin and management. When your contractors have a question, try to get back to them as quickly as possible with the answers.
  7. Pay on Time – This is probably the top three if not the number one complaint most independent contractors have. If you promise to pay them a certain amount of money for their service, pay them according to your agreement. Don’t hire people if you don’t have the funds to pay at that moment.

Many awesome independent contractors want to work virtually, so if you know what you want and do your due diligence, you will find them.

Need a virtual assistant? Schedule a call with me personally! Let's talk about your business and how I can help you.

Are you considering starting a virtual assistant career? I recommend checking out VA Networking. (write up). Unsure how to start? Check out the free resources or enroll in the VA Career program, everything you ever needed to start up a VA business including a made-for-you website/hosting/domain name.  A positive investment in your future!

 

 

 

vacation tips

Prepare Now for a Stress-Free Return

vacation tips

Prepare Now for a Stress-Free Return

task virtual assistant

Modified from original post, published December 19, 2019

Taking some time off during the Holidays? Looking forward to enjoying some festivities, but dread the mountain of work you know will be waiting when you return? Make a few preparations now before you leave, and follow some tips when you return, to help ease you back into a routine and maybe even stretch your relaxed and festive mood well into the first week or two of the new year!

Taking care of a few things now before you leave, will have you thanking yourself when you come back!!

Notifications: Set up your Out-Of-Office and Voicemail messages now. These are probably the two most overlooked yet simplest tasks to quickly take care of. Many email programs such as Outlook and Gmail will let you schedule the OOO in advance. If your phone system doesn’t allow for advance messaging, write the message out, and have it ready to record quickly. Don’t stress yourself by waiting until 5 minutes before you’re trying to get out the door!

Schedule Meetings: That New Year staff meeting can wait until Tuesday afternoon – 2:30 PM to be exact – after you return. A study by YouCanBookMe shows this to be the very best time to schedule a meeting. Also, don’t forget to schedule a reminder, preferably with a scheduled email, in addition to the popup reminder notification.

While you’re adding meetings to your calendar, I want you to schedule 3 lunches your first week back. As you ease your way back into the routine, time away becomes paramount. Schedule alternate days (I recommend this!) or consecutively, but do it in “ink” and do not allow yourself to cancel.

This becomes all too important, especially with our new work-from-home routines. It can become easy to forget about ourselves because, in our minds, we are already at home and feel guilty if we take any "me" time.

Whether you are returning to the office or multiple zoom meetings, you need to add a 30-minute “catch up” time to your schedule. The purpose is to socialize and catch up with your office pals. Scheduling this time will help avoid unnecessary interruptions.

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Task List: You know I’m all about these lists! Make a complete list of all the projects you are working on, including the ones you’ve been putting on the back burner. Take a few minutes to prioritize everything – use the Eisenhower Matrix found in my 5 Essentials Tips blog to help organize these projects. Your “vacation brain” will thank you when it’s time to jump back into things!

Clean Up Your Desk: Put all tasks away and take the last 20 minutes before you leave to clean up your desk. Put away the files you’ve been working on, put books back where they belong, straighten up the supplies. Take one last look at your returning Task list. Make sure you have only the most urgent and important tasks scheduled your first week back.

holiday email return

Tips for Your Return: Returning to the office has been sometimes compared to getting a root canal! Just the volume of emails alone is enough to make even the bravest quiver!!! Three good rules for returning:

  • Try to stay in a selective stealth mode the first few days back, giving those that “need to know” a heads up about your return.
  • Break the first few days into little chunks. For example, take care of emails and phone calls on the first day, and review reports on day two.
  • Do Not Stay Late! As tempting as it might be, slowly easing back into that full “work late” schedule will help you be more focused and productive.

These are just a few things you can do to help relieve the stress of returning to work after an extended Holiday, with an emphasis on getting out of the office or away from your desk - have lunch with a friend, take a walk – get away for at least 30 minutes.

I’d like to close with one final list, it’s my "To-Don't List":

  • Don’t schedule multiple meetings your first day/week back
  • Don’t set unrealistic deadlines for your first day back
  • Don’t try to do everything the first day back

This will only leave you overwhelmed, underproductive, and put you behind in your work.

Coronavirus Is Changing The Workplace

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Coronavirus Is Changing The Workplace

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Coronavirus is here and has us scrambling. Google is recommending their North America employees work from home until April 10th,

"Out of an abundance of caution, and for the protection of Alphabet and the broader community, we now recommend the you work from home if your role allows," the Tuesday email from Chris Rackow, Google's vice president of global security, reads in part.

Northwell Health has sent their non-essential employees home to work as well, and are offering telemedicine for everyone, as well as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is asking businesses to allow people to work from home, or to stagger shifts to reduce potential exposure during high peak commute times.

As a virtual assistant, I will not feel as much of an impact as many other workers do. My home is my office, where I am afforded the benefit of video conferencing and email rather than in-person meetings and handshaking. Let me first say, working from home is not for the faint of heart. It requires a steady discipline and accountability, but it can be achieved with minimum disruption to your life.

You've been asked to work from home during this outbreak. What can you do to ease the transition from your office to a remote location, i.e. your home office? First, don’t panic. Your life does not have to suffer or come to a halt. The most important step is to take a moment to put together a quick time management program; a way to track the things you need to do each day, such as a task list that you can check off.

It’s vital for you to know how to gain control over your time.  Here are a few techniques that will help you organize your day, week, and month efficiently so that you get a lot more done.

Set Goals and Priorities

Before you can even start deciding on how to spend your time, you need to set your goals and priorities for the period in question. It works well to make an overall plan for the time you will be working from home and then translate that into smaller chunks. For example, monthly goals, weekly goals, and then finally into daily tasks.

Create Daily Rituals

Keep important commitments on the front burner by carving out a specific time for them each day.

Designate the hour before bed for reading stories with your children or learning something new.

Create momentum that will drive you forward through-out the day. Score a quick win when you go for a morning run or meditate while it’s still quiet.

Shorten Your To-Do List

Weed out the nonessential items. Decide which tasks require excellence and which can be considered good enough if you complete them on time. For example, as long as your bed sheets are washed and dried, maybe you can skip ironing them. Sheryl Sandberg, author of “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead” said it best, “Done is better than perfect”.

Smart Scheduling

As you work your way through your goals, it’s tempting to guess how long things will take you to complete. However, the best thing to do is schedule everything in your daily to-do list realistically. By being realistic about how much time you need to do things, you’ll avoid roadblocks and bottlenecks.

Here is a useful formula for planning a project:

In minutes, calculate the normal time it takes you to do the task (x4) + fastest time you have achieved this task + the longest time it has taken you to achieve this task.  Divide that number by 6, this is the minimum plan time.

For example, when planning out a social media content calendar for a week:  (normal time) 240 min x 4 = 960 minutes + (fastest) 120 minutes + (longest) 300 minutes = 1,380 minutes divided by 6 = 230 minutes, or about 4 hrs rounded.

Include Flex Time

One mistake people often make when scheduling tasks is that they don’t take into consideration that time is fluid and needs flexibility. Remember to account for things taking longer than you think, and other variables; allow yourself 15 minutes in between tasks to help your brain switch gears to the next task.

Set Time Limits

When you set your schedule, it’s imperative to set time limits for tasks. Schedule blocks of time so that you don’t go down a rabbit hole and spend five hours there being unproductive while being busy.

Remember You Have a Life

Disconnect for a while. Limit the time you spend online, making calls, and watching TV. Rediscover the beauty of nature.

Health and Wellness

Self-care. I should be able to end this with a “ ‘nuf said”. When it comes to your health, nothing else should take priority. Focus on lessening your anxiety with yoga once a day, meditation 5 times a week, eating right, going to the doctor for yearly checkups, and so forth.

Take Breaks

 Downtime restores your ability to concentrate.

Many think they have to work non-stop when working from home. While it does help to fill in your calendar and daily schedule with everything that you need to do during any given day, don’t panic if you see empty space in your calendar. You deserve, and need, to have downtime and “me” time.

Be realistic about living your life. It’s great to have goals. However, you don’t want to overburden yourself with work from sunup until sundown. You want to organize your schedule so that you have time for all areas of life. Having downtime to do nothing is perfectly fine if you’re otherwise being as productive as you want to be.

If you interested in hiring a virtual assistant, contact us at thetaskva.com. If you are interested in becoming a virtual assistant check out the tools and resources at VAnetworking.com.

Get Out Of Your Head For Success

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Get Out Of Your Head For Success

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Success in business stems from success in other areas of your life. You can’t really succeed to the extent that you would like to financially without making sure you’re up to par in other parts of your life, such as your mental state and physical fitness.

By keeping up with those parts as well, you’ll be much more well-rounded and able to succeed so much easier. Mental wellness is a very important aspect of your life and it’s extremely important for your success.

Mental health, for many years, was overlooked and not seen as a priority. In recent years, a new term has emerged, “high functioning anxiety”. Although it is not yet a mental health diagnosis, it helps to give words to something so many are experiencing. It has been shown that mental health is extremely important and is directly linked with your success in life.

You can’t really go far in life when you’re struggling with things like anxiety, because you’ll always be in your own head and unable to make those advancements that you need for success. In her book, The Happier Approach, Nancy Jane Smith, walks people through how to get out of their head, and into their body. Shifting your focus is sometimes just what you need!

In order to have a healthy mind, you need to give yourself time to relax and decompress, because, if you’re crowding your life with all work all the time, you’re going to get burnt out and start to dislike the job you’re doing. If you don’t enjoy what you do, it’s going to go downhill fast. You’ll put in less and less effort and you’ll never attain that success that you want.

Just as your mental well-being is important, so is your physical health.

Good physical health allows you to wake up each day feeling refreshed and ready to go, something that’s very important for your happiness and for your success. Being physically active and fit is good for your health, and it also helps you find happiness more frequently.

Keeping your body hydrated, properly nourished, and challenging yourself physically are the best ways to keep you in top physical health. I can hear you saying “but I don’t have time to workout”. Guess what, you really do have the time, you just need to find it.

“Workout, workout as hard as you can, and workout without excuses nor apologies. The discipline of tough physical training is obviously great for mental and physical strength, but over time, it also instills many more important lessons in a gradual and subtle progression. … It is the sheer effort but also the rest, nutrition and focus. These same skills, that are so important to our business and personal life, cannot become better engrained than through challenging training." --Itay Rosenfeld, CEO of Voxbone, a provider of Communications-as-a-Service (CaaS)

Without a healthy mental state and physical fitness, life can become a bit stale. Tracking progress in both of these categories is crucial. When you’re journaling or making notes about your day, talk about things that you’ve done to better your physical and mental health and be specific.

By keeping notes on your progress, you can tweak your methods in order to have better results, especially after seeing what worked for you and what didn’t. Everyone has different needs, so what might work for one person might not work for you. Find your balance.

Remember, as tempting as it is to only focus on success, you need to focus on all aspects of your life in order to truly be successful,. Take a look at  33 Daily Habits, which gives you simple, daily habits of successful entrepreneurs. There’s no fun in being financially well-off if you’re depressed and out of shape.

Negative Social Media Comments: How to Deal

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Social Media Is A Relationship Building Tool

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As you become more popular you’re going to get more people who love you, but also more people who hate you. Some people don’t even hate you, they just like to be trolls. It’s important to know how to deal with these types of people so that you can use social media marketing to build traffic, make more connections, and increase your return on investment.

Develop a Policy

If you have many people helping you manage social media, you need to develop a policy. There is a difference between a troll and someone who has something negative to say. Therefore, you want to treat them differently. A troll should be blocked, and their comments deleted. Someone who is negative might just need some extra attention to turn them around.

Ignore Real Trolls

When someone is a real troll they have nothing useful to say at all and are intent on disrupting a discussion or even an entire business. These types of people may even be paid. You have no way of knowing. The best course of action is to ignore them, delete, and block them. There is an exception to this rule. If the issue becomes widely known due to not deleting fast enough you may have to fight back by outing the troll for who they are and let your real audience deal with them.

Make a Joke Out of It

Sometimes trolls and negative people are a little bit funny. It depends on your audience of course, but if you can make a joke out of something that’s a great way to deal with it. For example, if someone asked you what’s taking so long for a shipment to get to them and you know you mailed it the day they ordered it you may need to point out in a humorous way that you have no control over the post office.

Look for The Deeper Message

Sometimes trolls or people who make negative comments are just unhappy people who need something. If you can read between the lines and find a better message answer that message and ignore the nastiness. Killing them with kindness can work very well for riding your feed of trolls.

Hire or Get Volunteer Moderators

When your community grows very large you may need to get help managing your social media to prevent the proliferation of spammers and trolls from taking over your page or community. One of the reasons some big-time coaches have ended their Facebook Groups has to do with poor group management. If it’s getting too big, get some help.

Build Relationships with Your Community

Don’t just talk one way to your community. Don’t just sell them all the time. Have real conversations with members of your community and let them get to know you. When someone is nasty or trolling they’ll report it and probably attack the offender on their own even if you’re sleeping in bed.

Show the Facts

If it’s appropriate baffle the negative person or troll with facts. If you have facts you can prove with real study and research, you’ll find that most of your community will value what you’re saying a lot more than someone who drives by with some negative info.

Dealing with trolls and negative people can be daunting. But, if this starts happening take heart in the fact that it’s mostly because your community is growing, which is a good thing. But don’t take it personally. When it’s possible the very best thing you can do about a troll is not provide a platform for them and delete and block them.

Social Media is a Relationship Building Tool

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Social Media Is A Relationship Building Tool

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Social media is an amazing invention that puts word-of-mouth marketing on steroids. It’s like having a coffee shop, community center, and bar all from the comfort of your home where you can talk to a wide variety of people about almost any topic you can think of. That’s why, at its heart, social media is a relationship building tool.

Building relationships online takes a little time and effort but the pay off is huge. Let’s look at some ways you can use social media to build relationships.

Be Authentic

No one likes to find out someone they admired lied. If you’re not running a six-figure business don’t try to tell others how to do it and don’t make people think you are. You will be found out. Instead, just be who you are, because that’s so much easier. You won’t ever have to feel fake or get nervous because you are who you are.

Understand Your Niche

Every single day keep studying your niche and your audience. Killer apps come along every single day and disrupt businesses all across the world. It can happen to you too if you’re not keeping your ear to the ground and paying attention to industry news. Consider how fast technology is changing in relation to your niche so you can stay ahead of the game. Plus, when you show a deep understanding you can better engage intelligently with your audience.

The Customer is Right

Most business owners hate hearing this but even when the customer is wrong, on social media the customer needs to be right. Do not fight with customers on social media. Even if they say hateful things cancel out all that and address only the issue at hand that you can fix for them. They likely told you how they want you to fix it, so now it’s up to you to do that, even if they’re really wrong because the optics of this type of situation on social media can spell the end of any business fast.

Create Brand Ambassadors

One way to make your customers rave about you is to rave about them. Share projects with them that aren’t complete, ask their advice. Use social media to communicate directly with your audience. Make them feel as if they’re part of your company because you listen to them so much that the products and services you create make some of your audience feel as if you’re reading their mind. You can even incentivize some of your customers by making them referral partners if you wish.

Follow Everyone Back

On some social networks, you have a choice of following people back who follow you or not. But, you should follow them back. The more people you have in your social networks the better. You never know who they’re connected to that might see something they “like” or share of yours so always when possible reciprocate. One exception is your personal Facebook Profile where you only get 5000 friends.

Building relationships with your audience can take some time. But, once you set up a process for succeeding with social media marketing to build traffic to your website, if you don’t skip the engagement portion of social media marketing you’re going to do fabulously.

Evergreen and Immediate Social Media Traffic Tactics

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Evergreen and Immediate Social Media Traffic Tactics

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When using social media to drive traffic it’s important to recognize that some activities provide short-term, quick bursts of traffic while others work for the longer term.

For example, when you post something on Twitter, it runs through the feed and people either see it and click on it, or they don’t. When you put something on Pinterest it’s searchable for as long as it’s on Pinterest and will send traffic for the long-term.

Ensure that you have a good mix of evergreen content and trending content with the focus primarily on evergreen content. This tactic allows you to use social media marketing successfully to drive traffic all the time, not just when you share something in the moment.

  • Read Industry News – This is a great way to find things to share on Twitter, but also provide good fodder for original content that you can create for other platforms like Pinterest or a blog post for your blog.
  • Provide Quality over Quantity – Whether it’s evergreen content or trending content ensure that anything you create, or share is high quality, accurate, and relevant to your audience. In the quest to find content to drive traffic it can be tempting to skip that step but if there is no reason that is relevant to your audience to share the content, don’t do it.
  • Mix it Up – Do both Evergreen content and trending content. Set up your Social Media Planner according to your promotions you already know about, industry events you already know about, and then keep up to date on the news so that you can add in trending information. Share all of it across all of your social media platforms.
  • Change up The Format –Don’t focus your content on only text content. Use different formats to present the same content. For example, if you read a trending article that really made you think, make a video about it to introduce it and then link to it.
  • Add in Seasonal Content – One type of trending content that you should consider adding if it’s appropriate for your niche is seasonal content. Let’s say your industry group is having a Christmas party, that’s something to talk about and to blog that will get a lot of attention.
  • Share Everything – Whether it’s evergreen content or not, focus on sharing it in its various forms on every social media platform that you use. That way you get both short bursts of traffic plus set yourself up for having traffic build slowly over the long-term.
  • Focus More on Evergreen Content – The most important content you can create for your business is evergreen content. That is content that will be useful to your clients for a long period of time. With today’s advancing technology it may not be good forever, but evergreen content should be good at least a year.

Evergreen content, for the most part, will start on your blog. It doesn’t matter if it’s text content or content in another form, but it's on your blog too. Trending content sometimes will go on your blog first, but often it’s a matter of sharing it because someone else talked about it. But sharing it is important too, because it shows that you’re paying attention to your industry.

The Importance of Being Consistent in Brand and Message

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The Importance of Being Consistent in Brand and Message

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Your brand, whether personal or business, is how other people view you. If you use the right methods, you can control the message and optimize how your brand is presented to others. This is called branding. If you want to be known as your brand, it’s important to be consistent in brand and message across all social media platforms.

Know Your Audience

Everything you do starts with your audience, so it cannot be repeated enough. Remember just because you studied your audience last year doesn’t mean you’re done. They will continue to grow and evolve so it's important you keep studying your audience.

Consider that Dove has been around for a long time, but if you look at their marketing, it’s changed because, while their customer’s demographics have not changed, the way they talk to them has. Why? Because the customers have changed with the times. Yours will too.

Find Your Brand’s Voice

A great way to determine your brand’s voice is to think about what you want to stand for and how you want to talk to people. Do you want to be soft and subtle, polite and nice, or do you want to be bold, irreverent, and maybe even loud?

One way to accomplish this is to look at how you are as a person. If your company involves you as a solopreneur that makes it easy. You are going to be more comfortable if your brand mirrors your personal brand. Another way is to look at your competition and determine how you can use your brand’s voice to differentiate your brand from the others.

Repurpose Content

You don’t have to make brand-new content for each social media platform. You can share the same exact content across all channels. But, what you want to do is change the blurb, change up the images in terms of size and type of image, but you want the message to be the same regardless of the channel you’re delivering it on.

Stay Relevant

To maintain a brand takes a lot of work on your part. You’ll need to stay up to date on what’s new within your industry and niche so that you can improve your knowledge and be the go-to person in your field. But, don’t do that by changing your brand’s voice, logo, images, and so forth because you want people to recognize you on any platform.

Maintain Consistency

You’re more trustworthy when you are consistent. It’s also easier to find and recognize you. Ensuring that you are consistent means that you’ll see a steadier stream of prospects, develop rewarding partnerships, and your perceived value will increase. Your audience will feel listened to and inspired because the more they see you the more they’re going to trust you.

It’s a lot simpler when you realize that you want to be the same person/business on each network. All you really must tweak is how you deliver the message, not the entire message or the content that you’re linking to. Keep the same business name, personal name, logo, and colors across all networks and you’ll become recognized.

The Art of Sacrifice

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The Art of Sacrifice

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The negative connotation connected to sacrifice can be linked back centuries. Even most definitions scream SACRIFICE IS BAD. Upon utilizing the almighty Google, the very first definition is about living sacrifices for religious purposes. Well, I can promise you the sacrifice I want to talk about has nothing to do with throwing poor innocent women into a bubbling volcano for the sake of appeasing the ancient gods.

The Law of Sacrifice is very simple: In order to get what you want, you have to give something. Success is measured by the individual wanting to succeed. However, there is no success without small sacrifices, sometimes big, along the way. Let’s talk about the most common sacrifices.

Time Is The Number One Sacrifice Made

It is often the first. Trying to succeed in college? You are sacrificing time spent playing Call of Duty or going to that house party. Need success in business? You may miss out on the office birthday party or even sleep. This doesn’t necessarily mean you become boring and undependable. I talked a lot about time in a previous article, so I won’t repeat myself, but priority is key in all things.

Things!

If you are trying to save for a house or vacation, you will probably sacrifice your daily coffee from that super hip coffeehouse or pack your lunch. Maybe you won’t use your weekly budget on that great pair of shoes or floor tickets to that basketball game. All these small sacrifices will lead to something better in the long run right? Seriously.... needing validation as I sip my Folgers this morning.

Stability.

It feels good to have a steady paycheck and steady working hours. However, the greatest successes start with the most uncertainty. To reach a goal you will sacrifice this warm blanket of income and insurance for highs, lows, and a lot of faith. This sacrifice is truly the hardest to make and the bravest. Having a great support system will be imperative.

Remember sacrifice is not evil, and it will change over to time. Give up something good now for something even better. You can do this, and TASKVA is here to help along the way.

Plan Ahead to Take the Stress Out of Tax Day

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Plan Ahead to Take the Stress Out of Tax Day

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April 15 is a dreadful day for many people, simply because it's the deadline for filing income taxes. The truth is this day doesn't have to be ominous or overwhelming. You can reduce your stress and improve your financial future simply by getting a jump on your income tax preparation early.

Gather your records early. Take the time to gather all of your documentation together beforehand so you have everything you need to get started. Gather your past tax returns as well, as these will provide valuable insight for where you can save money on your taxes in comparison to previous years.

Look to government resources for help. The Internal Revenue Service website and taxing authority websites for each individual state are valuable resources for individuals seeking tax help. Use these free resources to your advantage to get some extra assistance while filing your taxes.

Make last minute tax-deductible purchases. Especially if it looks like you'll owe money on your return, before the end of December, make any purchases that can give you an extra tax deduction. If you're self-employed, purchase necessary items for your business.

Donate cash or items. Remember to make your donations before December 31st so you'll receive your tax deduction for this year. Be sure to get a receipt!

E-File your return. There are a number of benefits to e-filing, or electronically filing, your tax return. For example, most E-file software will compute tax credits and deductions for you based on the information that you put in. Plus, if you're getting a refund, it's quicker than mailing your return.

The Bottom Line

The best way to get the most out of your income taxes is simply to get a jump on them early. With planning and preparation, you can maximize your deductions and simplify the filing process without stressing yourself out along the way.