How to Start a Part-Time Virtual Assistant Business


virtual assistant


by Leslie Truex, Demand Media

Step 1

Decide what services to offer and what industry you’ll provide them to. Some virtual assistants focus on specific skills such as website support or customer service. Others focus on providing a variety of services to professionals in specific industries, such as Realtors or speakers. Make a list of your virtual support skills such as typing speed, writing, research, technical knowledge and phone skills. Also list your skills in using specific software and equipment, like word processing and photo enhancement software, or in using digital audio devices for transcription. Finally, list the industries you have experience in or are knowledgeable about. Using these lists, identify the services you’d like to offer and/or the industries you’d like to work in.

Step 2

Set your prices. Your fees will vary and depend on the level of skill and/or industry knowledge needed, and the amount of…

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Facebook Tries Letting You Share Emoticons Of Exactly What You’re Feeling, Reading Or Eating


composer TC

Facebook is poised to get a lot more expressive. Today it began tests of a new status composer that lets you say “what are you doing?” by selecting from different categories to share activities such as feeling, reading, or eating. You can then choose a specific emotion or piece of media or add a custom text description and post something like “Niners in the Super Bowl – feeling ecstatic :) “

Facebook is testing this new visual activity sharing status composer with some users on the website and its mobile site. It could inspire people to share more frequently. Instead of just adding a plain text update, you can select from feeling, watching, reading, listening to, drinking, or eating. Then you can pick from pre-made options such as happy, Game Of Thrones, 50 Shades Of Gray, Radiohead, coffee, or ice cream. Alternatively, you can write in your own emotion, piece of content, or cuisine.


Visual status updates could help Facebook fend off emoji messaging apps like Line, media consumption sharing apps like GetGlue, and the smiley-laden Path. It follows Facebook testing a bunch of new standard status update prompts like “What’s going on, Josh?” and the somewhat creepy “How are you feeling, Josh?”

Along with being fun for users, it could be a big help to advertiser,  though Facebook tells me its not piping this data into its ad engine just yet. By selecting your current activity instead of merely writing it out, you structure data for Facebook. That could eventually help it to connect you with advertisers who want reach people who frequently watch tv and movies, or listen to music, or eat at restaurants.

If you choose a particular pre-formatted emotion, piece of media, or food, Facebook could potentially use that behavior to pinpoint you with ads. If you listen to a Daft Punk song, it could target you with ads for their new album or nearby concert. Coffee shops might be able to pay to reach coffee drinkers, and Netflix would probably love to target sad users who could be primed to stay home and watch some videos.

This all mirrors Facebook’s “action spec ad targeting” which lets advertisers target you based on your activity in Open Graph-connected apps like Spotify or Foodspotting.


Facebook didn’t provide many details but noted:

It’s just a new way for people to visually represent what they’re doing and how they’re feeling through their Facebook posts. It will only be available to small set of people. This isn’t integrated into Graph Search. It’s just a small test to see if people are interested in sharing their actions in a more visual way.

If rolled out, I think the visual status composer could be very popular, as it will make people’s status updates stand out in the crowded feed.  It’s a subtly brilliant move for Facebook the simultaneously lets users express themselves while building its knowledge of who they really are. The New Social Business Platform The New Social Business Platform.

The new Business Platform went live in beta yesterday (the 29th of January). The platform is an updated and re-branded version of the old ecademy network. At the end of last year we heard from Lyndon Wood (CEO) who acquired ecadmey and estimated spending between £1-1.5 million of his own money to get it where he sees it. Being a member from the old site i had access yesterday.

First impressions…. I’m impressed. I spent a good couple of hours on the site, the team and Lyndon have done very well piecing together what is good about other social sites and using some of the original features to produce a great business ecosystem.

Here is the new platform in their corporate video

We will be hearing from Lyndon Wood CEO and Founder of SunZu again very soon, I will also take some screen shots and explain why businesses should seriously consider using the ecosystem and platform provides.

Here is the Guest Post by Lyndon

Exclusive: SunZu – The Art of Business

How to Find the Time to Finish Your To-Do List

Use these six steps to set a course for achieving your goals.


It’s pointless in my view to worry about time management and balance. I’m not interested in balance. I am interested in abundance in every area. I don’t want to sacrifice one in favor of another.

Successful people think in terms of “all,” whereas others tend to place limits on themselves. They may believe that “If I am rich, I can’t be happy” or “If I thrive in my career, then I won’t have time to be a good father, husband, or spiritual individual.” This way of thinking is usually flawed, and neither time management nor balance can resolve it. Quit thinking in terms of either/or, and start thinking all and everything.


If you start with a commitment to success and then agree to control time, you will create an agenda that accommodates all you want. These six steps can help you get started.

1. Set specific priorities. I can’t do this for you, of course. Everyone’s priorities are different. But if success is a goal, then I would suggest you spend most of your time doing things that will create success. Success for you could involve a variety of people and things: finances, family, happiness, spirituality, physical or emotional well-being — or, if you’re like me, all of them. And remember, it can be all of them.

Related: 10 Time-Management Tips That Work

2. Get everyone around you to agree on priorities. You’ll need buy-in from your family, colleagues, associates, employees. Without it, people with different agendas can pull you in all sorts of directions. My schedule works because everyone in my life — from my wife to the people who work with me — knows what is most important to me and understands how I value time. This agreement allows us to handle everything else that comes our way.

3. Track how you spend your time. Most people have no clue what they do with their time but still complain that they don’t have enough. If you don’t know how much time you have — or need — how can you expect to manage it?

Logging your time, perhaps in a journal, will help you see all the ways in which you waste it — the little habits and activi¬ties that in no way contribute to your success. Look at any action that isn’t adding wood to your fire — think online poker, television, napping, drink¬ing. Brutal, isn’t it? Yes, but if you don’t manage your time, you will waste it.

4. Create a schedule based on your priorities. When our daughter was born, my wife and I built a routine around our daughter’s sleep schedule and our priorities. We agreed that I would get up one hour earlier and take my daughter on an outing. I have qual¬ity time with my daughter before I go to the office, and my wife has extra time to sleep.

When we get back, my day is mine for work. Because I get my daughter up so early, we can put her to bed before 7 p.m., and my wife and I have time together as a couple.

5. Look for ways to maximize your time. The only way to increase time is to get more done in the time you have. Consider the expression “time is money.” What does it mean to you? How can you treat time to make sure your time is money? Think carefully about what’s the most important thing that you should do with your time.

One way to get more done with your time is to simply find ways to increase your productivity. Another approach: Make it a race, a challenge — make it fun.

Related: How to Avoid Entrepreneur Overload

If I get 15 phone calls done in 15 minutes and you get 15 calls done in one hour, then I have essentially created 45 minutes for myself. If I hire someone and pay that person $15 an hour to make 15 calls every 15 minutes, then I just duplicated my efforts — and my time becomes money.

6. Continue to modify your priorities. Things will change through the course of your life. You achieve and set new goals. Different things and people enter your world. The busier you become, the more you have to manage, control, and prioritize.

When I became a parent, my daughter gave me another reason to create success — not an excuse to avoid working. Our schedule will continue to change as my daughter grows up. But we are controlling our time rather than just haphazardly trying to manage it.


Related: Staffing Solutions , Virtual Assistant

3 Golden Rules of Negotiating

image credit: shutterstock

3 Golden Rules of Negotiating

The art of negotiating escapes most of us, even good salespeople, because few take the time to correctly understand the word and follow the golden rules ofnegotiating.

The first and biggest error is a misunderstanding of the word. When I ask people at my Closers workshop what the word “negotiating” means, I get answers like, “how good a deal can I get” and “how cheap can I buy.” For many people, it’s a process of painful tactics of stall and overcome or a give and take mostly involving the surrender of price and terms.

“Negotiate” comes from the Latin negotiatus, which is the past participle of negotiari, and means to carry on business. This original meaning is critical to understand because the goal of negotiating is to continue doing business by conferring with another to arrive at an agreement.

Related: Grant Cardone on Debunking the Price Myth

So, scrap the notion that negotiating means lowering the price to reach an agreement. A lower price does not make for a better deal; it only makes for less margin for you and your company. Your goal is to come to an agreement about a proposal, and the way to do this is to build value in your offer. The solution your product or service offers is the focal point of negotiations, not the price.

Here are three of my 12 golden rules, which I won’t allow myself to violate in any negotiation, whether simple or complex:

1. Always Start the Negotiations. You must initiate the process because whoever controls the start of the negotiations tends to control where they end. If you let the other party start negotiations, you will be constantly giving up control, often without even realizing it. For instance, when you ask someone what his project budget is, you are allowing him to start the negotiations. You will then spend your time chasing his number rather than finding the best solution. When I sit down to work out an agreement on the numbers involved in the decision, I will even interrupt to prevent the other side from controlling the starting point. Sounds bizarre, but that is how important starting the transaction is. I once had a client who wanted to offer his terms upfront. I politely said, “Excuse me, I appreciate your willingness to tell me what you can do and would like just a moment to share with you what I have put together for you. If it doesn’t work, then please tell me.” This allowed me to control the starting point.

Related: Virtual Assistant – Why Choose PA Everyday?

2. Always Negotiate in Writing. I see so many professional salespeople make the mistake of discussing and working on the terms of an agreement without ever committing their ideas to a written agreement. But the purpose of negotiations is to arrive at a formal written agreement, not tell a story or spend time talking. From the first moment I make a proposal, I refer to a document that is being created in front of the client. It includes all the points of agreement and becomes real to the prospective customer. Negotiating first and then having to create a document adds unnecessary time to a transaction. But if you build your written agreement as you negotiate, you are prepared to ask for a signature the moment the decision to buy is made.

Related: 5 Ways to Succeed in Any Economy

3. Always Stay Cool. The negotiation table can be loaded with agendas, egos and emotions. Great negotiators know how to stay cool, providing leadership and solutions, while the rest of the room becomes insanely invested in personal agendas and useless emotions. Crying, getting angry, name calling and blowing off steam may make you feel good, but such behavior will not benefit you while negotiating. When the rest of the room gets emotional, stay cool like Spock and use logic to negotiate and close.

Read more stories about: SalesNegotiating, Staffing Solutions, Grant Cardone

12 Surprising Signs You Could Be an Entrepreneur

12 Surprising Signs You Could Be an Entrepreneur
image credit: Shutterstock
Reblogged from  | October 29, 2012

Almost every article ever written about entrepreneurship suggests that it’s not for everyone. And yet the articles go on to list attributes that many successful people possess as the traits commonly associated with great entrepreneurs, such as a strong work ethic, persistence, persuasiveness and discipline.

For 25 years, I have studied entrepreneurs and discovered that what contributed to their incredible success was not what society typically considers assets. People like John D. Rockefeller, Henry Ford and Oprah Winfrey didn’t achieve greatness by possessing the traits and following the narrow path recommended by management gurus.

So, don’t believe everything others say about you or how they label you. Maybe your supposed liabilities are really your assets. Here are 12 signs many people might consider a liability, but which can actually be indications that you are meant to be an entrepreneur.

1. Hate the Status Quo – It doesn’t make sense to you that something has been done the time-honored way with no explanation why. You are not someone who wants to just go through the motions or sit by idly. Nor do you like following the pack.

2. Easily Bored – You find yourself easily bored, and others start viewing you as a problem. But nothing is wrong with you except that you are bored with activities that aren’t up to your abilities and aren’t challenging. That’s why you hated most of the classes you ever attended. Think Bill Gates who dropped out of college to become one of the richest men in the world.

Related: 6 Tips for Staying Supercharged

3. Fired from Jobs – You’re too creative for your own good when it comes to working for others, and you may have some history, as I do, of losing jobs. Being just a cog in wheel is very difficult for you because you want to create something others can be inspired by and contribute to.

4. Labeled a Rebel – You know that greatness resides outside the lines of conformity and don’t think that policies, laws and regulations apply to you. You have been described as a rebel and rule breaker and would defy gravity if you could.

5. Resist Authority – You have a lifelong record of resisting authority from your parents, teachers and bosses. You don’t go along with the agreed upon norms of the group or community you work and live in.

6. Ready to Improve Everything – You always see how you could do things better. In addition, you are opinionated and freely give your two-cents about your better way of doing things–even when you’re not asked.

Related: How to Stop Over Thinking and Get Things Done

7. Bad at Making Small Talk – You have difficulty making the kind of small talk that so many people get comfort from. This social pattern of relationship and rapport building seems like a waste of time to you and makes you uncomfortable.

8. Bullied in Your Youth – You may have been heavily criticized, picked on and even bullied as a child or teenager. This has caused you to be driven to excel and to prove to the world that you are indeed a force to be reckoned with.

9. Obsessive – You may have been labeled obsessive/compulsive because when you get started on something you have difficulty letting go. Don’t let anyone convince you that this is a disease or deficiency. All of the great entrepreneurs become completely immersed in their vision. Howard Schultz stuck with Starbucks even when his family tried to persuade him not to.

Related: How to Harness Your Brain’s Secret Efficiency

10. Scared to Go Solo – The entrepreneur in you is scared of going out on your own—and also terrified of not doing so. This fear is so common in our society because we’ve been conditioned to think that entrepreneurship is much riskier than getting a “good job.” The reality is there is instability in both.

11. Unable to Unwind – You can’t go to sleep at night because you can’t turn your thoughts off. An idea may even manifest itself in your dreams. The next morning you find yourself still consumed with that idea, distracting you from the job you’re supposed to be doing.

12. Don’t Fit the Norm – You have always been a bit uncomfortable in your own skin. Until you get used to the idea that you are in fact different from most people, it could prove to be a problem–or exactly the motivation you need to acknowledge the entrepreneur screaming to get out.

Read more stories about: Starting a business, Virtual Assistant, Trep mindsetTrep psychologyStarting up

How to Take Your Business to the Next Level in 2013

BY  | January 2, 2013|
How to Take Your Business to the Next Level in 2013

image credit: Nintendo


Holiday leftovers aren’t even cold before conversation typically turns to resolutions for the new year. A December 2012 TD Ameritrade survey found that half of Americans want to improve their health and 32 percent hope to strengthen their finances in 2013.

Companies also will be taking steps to achieve greater prosperity next year. To make your own resolutions about growing your business, consider these 10 steps as part of a successful 2013 action plan.


Move forward even in uncertain times. Over the next 12 months, companies will need to deal with health-care reform, changing regulations and still volatile economic times, but they can’t let those uncertainties paralyze them, says Jeffrey Fox, a business author and consultant in Chester, Conn. Even in the worst economic times, some businesses thrive, says Mark Stevens, founder of MSCO, a marketing advisory firm in Rye Brook, N.Y. He advises companies to aggressively investigate potential new markets, invest in marketing, and test new ways of promoting themselves to bring in new customers and revenue.

Related: 5 Ways to Succeed in Any Economy

Tap your employees. Your employees are a tremendous resource for new ideas, says Ken Blanchard, co-author of best-selling classic The One Minute Manager (William Morrow, 1982) and founder of the Ken Blanchard leadership training companies based in Escondido, Calif. For example, he notes that a Southwest Airlines employee proposed the idea that led to Business Select, which allows passengers to pay extra for such perks as priority boarding. “That one idea has made the business millions of dollars,” Blanchard says.

Reconnect with your purpose. When you started your business, you had a vision for what you wanted to create. Find ways to rekindle that fire in your belly, Blanchard says. Whether it’s sales, finance or product development, spend more time working in the areas of your business that excite you, he suggests. “If you don’t love what you’re doing, you’re never going to work hard enough to be one of the best.”

Diversify your income opportunities. Look for ways you can sell more to your customers and prospects. If you sell products, you can add complementary items, bundle offerings or add service packages. Service providers can often add products to boost the bottom line. For example, when Blanchard and his wife Marjorie started their company in 1980, they conducted business seminars. Soon, they realized their income was limited by just offering seminars. After they branched into selling such products as books and diagnostic tools, their business grew to more than 300 employees.

Related Video: Google Hangout With Angela Jia Kim on Massive Growth

Adopt value pricing. Fox doesn’t believe that all products and services have to compete on price. Retailers may sell similar brands, but you can add value based on location, customer service, convenience, cleanliness and other factors that are important to customers. Manufacturers can differentiate based on innovative new products, quality, on-time delivery record and exceptional salespeople. “Even salt has been differentiated—sea salt, kosher salt, salt that comes in shakers,” Fox says.

Hire rainmakers. One of your best investments is an employee who can bring in new business, keep customers happy, and sell based on factors other than price, Fox says. When you’re interviewing potential rainmakers, look for people who are engaged, politely persistent and well prepared for the interview. Fox says these coveted employees are able to speak specifically about past successes, whether a significant personal accomplishment or the amount of business they landed for their latest employer.

Related: Serial Entrepreneur Gurbaksh Chahal on Building an A-List Team

Set aggressive growth goals. Since he launched MSCO in 1995, Stevens has worked at doubling his business every 18 months. He advises setting a goal that makes you slightly uncomfortable and then determining what it’s going to take to get there. Analyze how you landed your best customers, the length of your sales cycle and the ratio of prospects to customers to get a better understanding of what’s working in your sales and marketing efforts, he says. Then, focus on the most effective methods.

Measure every marketing activity. If you can’t measure it, don’t spend money on it, Stevens says. It’s often easiest to track online marketing, but other types of promotions can be measured as well, such as special offerings with a unique response telephone number, coded coupons or response cards, unique landing pages, and free white paper or information downloads. “When you combine tools in this way, you can track marketing effectiveness that some people say are unmeasurable, like outdoor advertising and public relations,” Stevens says.

Pay attention to the experience. Consider what it’s like for customers to do business with your company. How is their experience with the receptionist or sales team? Is the store or office environment pleasant? Do orders arrive on time? Is the customer service team responsive? Even small glitches or a perceived slight can cost you a customer, Fox says. “I know a bookstore owner who has signs all over ‘No shoes, no shirt, no service. No cell phones. No food.’ No one wants to be scolded like that.”

Try doing what you tend to avoid. For years, Stevens thought radio advertising would be a poor medium for promoting his marketing firm. Finally in 2008, an employee persuaded him to spend $10,000 on radio ads. The return on the investment has proven so strong that this year, the company spent roughly $1.25 million on radio. Whether it’s an assumption about a new market, marketing technique or management technique, Stevens advises you to challenge your belief that a new approach won’t work.

Related: How to Find New Business Ideas in Everyday Life

Read more stories about: Growth strategiesGrowing a businessSuccess strategies