Everything You Need to Know About What Type of Business to Start

Starting a business isn’t easy, but knowing exactly what type of business to start? Now that’s a tough one. Whether you’ve had a brilliant new idea and aren’t sure if you should run with it, or you were simply born with an entrepreneurial spirit, figuring out what to sell is half the battle, and maybe even the most important decision you’ll make in the battle. So how do you get it right? These four tips will help you with everything you need to know about how to start a business and what business you should be in so that you can beat the odds and see your business come to life (and stay there).

1. Do What You Love

They say if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. While there’s definitely some truth to that, starting a business is hard work that doesn’t let up for the first few years, so while you’ll absolutely be working, doing something you love will make putting in the long hours that much easier. You should also factor in your know-how; after all, it might not make sense to start a restaurant if you’ve never cooked professionally or managed a store before. But if you love interacting with people and have worked in sales your whole career, starting a business where you sell something makes a heck of a lot of sense!

2. Consider the Finances

As tough a pill as it might be to swallow, your finances should absolutely play a part in figuring out how to start a business. After all, when 8 out of 10 businesses fail within the first 18 months, you need to make sure you’ll still be standing if your new business starts to crumble. If you’re lacking on funds, loans, or start-up cash, opt for something that has little to no overhead to start so that you’re only investing your time (and not all of your life savings), like a virtual or mobile service.

3. Plan Your Lifestyle

When thinking about starting a business, you need to consider your current and future lifestyles. If you’re working a 9-5 gig, will you adjust well to 12-hour days, late nights and no sleep? Are you okay with having to miss important events because your new business needs your constant attention? If this in anyway scares you, you need to think about a business that requires less of a commitment from you, or else it might not make it.

4. Consider the Demand

Finally, you should think about whether or not there’s truly a demand for your new business. Whether a service or product, your new business needs to be something people actually want (and not just something you want). No matter how well you plan and execute your business, it won’t make it off its feet without customers that have a true need or desire for what you’re offering. Starting a business is hard, but all great businesses started out as a great idea, and so could yours with the right research ahead of time.

If you want to make sure your business gets off to the best start possible, get the help you need. Not only do we know how to start a business, and we know what resources you need to keep it running smoothly. Contact us today.

The Importance of a Social Media Presence

What can social media do for your business?

Last time we discussed The Importance of a Web Presence, now let’s take a look at having a social media presence. It is a highly valuable bonus to your business from a marketing standpoint. And almost all social media accounts are free! How is that for marketing dollars well spent?!

According to this blog from Clutch, only ten years ago 7% of the U.S. population used at least one social media channel. Guess what that number is today?! 65% and increasing! And a number of those users have more than one type of social media account.

Facebook still ranks as the most popularly used social media (86%), with Instagram in second by nearly half (48%).

Social media is a great way to interact more directly with your customers. You have instant access to them in a more personable way; you have the ability to answer their questions immediately; your account is also a place for your customers to post reviews and speak about your product in their own words. Which can be good when they are praising you, but it can also be valuable when they aren’t. It gives you an opportunity to fix the situation and show your customers that you care and it can also show you where you might need improvements to your product or service.

Being socially present and providing customer service via your social media, it allows your customers to have instant gratification (ohhh, there is that term again!) when they need to contact your business. That could result in a much faster purchase (personally, there have been occasions where I’ve changed my mind about purchasing something because I’ve had too long to think about it!). The more you interact with your customers, the more loyal they become. Especially when they’ve had a good experience, even if it may have stemmed from a bad experience that you managed to turn around!

Social media also allows you to get insights into your competition. Use that information to make decisions that could up your game and propel you ahead of your competition.

Social media platforms provide analytics that allows you to study the effects of your posts. You can see who you’re reaching; when that reach is at its highest; and when your customers are online.

It is true that social media is a valuable asset to your business, but it can be time-consuming for a small business that doesn’t have a lot of resources to dedicate to its social media platforms. That’s where a Virtual Assistant can come in really handy!

Hire a VA with a social media management background to create and post content. Or, if you already have a social media management guru and you just need someone to interact with your customers or provide customer service, a VA can do that too!

Let us know how social media has helped your business in the comments below.

If you want to discuss how I can help you with your social media needs, let’s chat!

The Importance of a Web Presence

Or, what do you mean they don’t have a website??!!

A few months ago, I was scheduling employment interviews on behalf of a longstanding client. He owns a couple of start-up companies, so currently there is no web presence to speak of.

During the time of scheduling these interviews, one of the candidates asked me where she could find the business’s website. I admit, I was not sure how to answer her question because the truth is, there was no website as of yet.

I did tell her that because the company was small, the website was a work in progress, but that she should pose her questions to the owner of the company during her phone interview. I felt it would be the perfect opportunity for her. And she wouldn’t be “stuck” for an answer when asked at the end of her interview “do you have any questions for me?” (I’m usually stuck for questions to ask if I haven’t prepared any in advance).

Which brings me to another point. How does one research a company to prepare for an interview if there is no presence on the web to research?

In my own personal experience, I have become somewhat hesitant about the legitimacy of a company if I am unable to locate them on the web. This is not something that occurred in people before the birth of the internet, we simply had trust. Not these days. If you don’t have a web presence, in some ways, your company may as well not exist. (Wow, that was harsh! But oh so true!)

This interview candidate even expressed a sense of nervousness about her upcoming interview because she could not find a company website. Her trust in the fact that this was a legitimate company was lost.

Now transfer that to a client’s perspective.

We rely on the internet for just about everything these days. If your business isn’t online in some way, even in the most minimal, your potential clients are going to seek out businesses that ARE online. We tend to look for information about a business online before we even set foot outside our door to make an in-person appearance.

Don’t lose potential clients simply because you don’t have an online presence. Simplistic web building sites are out there and some of them are free. Even if you build something basic, at least then your business has a presence on the world wide web!

If you need some assistance with building your web presence, drop me a line and let’s chat about your needs.

Stay tuned for the next blog where we’ll talk about the importance of a social media presence.

Please share any ideas, thoughts or comments below!

5 Ways a VA Can Keep Your Business Flowing While You Travel

Or, the way to do business stress-free!

In our last blog, 10 Tips for the Traveling Entrepreneur, we gave you some tips and tricks to making travel less stressful and more comfortable. As promised, we’re going to discuss ways a Virtual Assistant can be an advantage to your business while you’re on the go.

Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, a Virtual Assistant can ease your mind by taking care of your clients while you travel. Your business doesn’t have to come to a halt; the sales process can continue in your absence.

Let’s face it, we live in an instant gratification society and if you want to keep your clients engaged in your business, you have to provide them with that gratification.

A Virtual Assistant can benefit your business in the following ways:

Email Management

Imagine you’ve gone on vacation for a week and you’ve sworn to focus on relaxing with your family and stay away from your inbox. You return to find 400 emails waiting for you. Suddenly you wish you’d never taken a much-needed vacation!

Buuuut…imagine if you had a Virtual Assistant! Your VA could screen your emails as they come in, trash any junk mail, respond to anything urgent and keep your inbox at a manageable level. Even if your VA doesn’t have the proper answer to a client’s email, at least they can respond with something more personal than an “out of office” message.

Also, when a potential new client sends an inquiry, receiving an “out of office” notification could create some frustration (here is that instant gratification piece I mentioned), which could easily lead them to your competition for answers. And ultimately a loss of that potential client.

Customer Service

Your customers can still phone your business and receive assistance right away. When your clients call they’ll get a live person instead of voicemail. And your cell phone won’t be ringing off the hook when you’re trying to relax!

Setting up your VA as a Virtual Receptionist would be highly beneficial, not just as a temporary relief while you travel, but as a permanent part of your organization. Imagine the things you could accomplish if you weren’t constantly on the phone!

Create a list of common questions you receive, go over it with your VA and provide answers your VA can use to help your customers. That alone could cut your phone calls drastically.


Are you an author? Do you need to research specific personal items that aren’t related to your business? And the reason you’ve been putting it off is that you know it’s going to take up more time than you have? Do you figure the only time you’ll have to do that kind of research is when you take time away from work?

Ohhh, the benefits of a VA that is a web research wiz are undeniable! Let your VA scour the web for that carpenter for your next reno project. Or that rare Mid Century Modern teak coffee table you’ve been dreaming of. If you find a VA who thinks outside the box, they’ll know how to dig deep on the internet and find exactly what you’re looking for.

Social Media Management

Clients will continue to see marketing posts via email, social media, blogs, etc. They may not even know you’re on vacation! Your VA can interact with clients via replies to comments on your social media posts (ahh, there is that pesky little need for instant gratification again!), keeping them engaged and interested.

Calendar Management

Appointments can continue to be booked, so you can look forward to a full schedule upon your return (without the stress of 400 emails to sift through first!). Your VA would also be available to reschedule or cancel any appointments on your behalf, if necessary. This way your client doesn’t have to wait for your return to reschedule.

I know some of these tasks may seem small, but in the bigger picture, your VA could save you a lot of time and energy. Not to mention, stress!

Vacations are meant to be relaxing, but how can you relax if your phone is ringing and binging with notification after notification? We all know that it’s difficult to ignore those sounds because sometimes even you, as the business owner, needs that instant gratification just like your clients.

With an experienced VA handling the ropes, you can feel at ease knowing your business is still flowing while you’re away.

If there is anything I can do to assist you in making your business successful, I have a plethora of skills and experience in my portfolio. Contact me today and let’s discuss what I can do for you!

If you can think of any other ways a VA might help you while you’re on the go, please share them in the comments below!

10 Tips for the traveling Entrepreneur

As an entrepreneur, it’s very likely you’ll need to travel to connect with clients. Traveling is stressful enough without the worry that no one is attending to your business while you move from airport to airport and airplane to airplane. The advantages of having a virtual assistant are huge for the traveling entrepreneur. You’ll have someone “on the ground” taking care of your business.

Between practically undressing to go through security (unless you’ve managed to get yourself one of those handy Nexus passes, you smart cookie you!) and grabbing something from an airport Starbucks to eat (like Starbucks prices aren’t crazy enough, let’s gouge you when you have little choice but to eat in the airport!) while running for your next gate, adding the worry of work tasks to that mix could easily send you over the edge!

I’ve put together a list of tips and tricks that I hope you find helpful.

Do you want to get that first class feeling without spending the extra dough? Here are a few suggestions that just might make you feel like a jet-setting rock star on a coach budget:

  • Buy a pass to access the lounge while waiting for your flight – comfortable sofas, yummy snacks, an open bar (go easy on the alcohol though, or you’ll end up a jet-lagged rockstar!).
  • Chat with the flight crew, be friendly and sincere, who knows, maybe you’ll get a bump up to business or first class!
  • Avoid first rows, exit rows and the seats just in front of the exit row (these often don’t recline!) – but there’ll be more leg room in the first and exit rows, you say! Of course, but that also means your hand luggage is out of reach, any screens for the purpose of in-flight entertainment will either be further away or smaller because of its access from the armrest of your seat.
  • If you experience motion sickness it’s best to choose seats over the wing section, it’s the most stable area of the plane.
  • Make friends with airline staff, it’s not what you know, but who you know – maybe your pal can get you an upgrade!
  • Bring your own entertainment – download a few movies, make a “travel” playlist of your favorite music.
  • Bring your own pillow and blanket – do you even know where those blankets and pillows offered on the aircraft have been?
  • Bring your own eye mask, one that’s comfortable and doesn’t put pressure on your eyes.
  • Save some money and bring your own snacks – this is a great idea, but considering how airlines nickel and dime you to death over everything, I’m of the mind to take whatever I can get in return! So I’ll take their offered free snacks, sometimes I’ll even ask for two AND a full can of pop!
  • If you can, stay loyal to one airline – more possibilities of discounts, free lounge access, priority check-in and higher chances of getting an upgrade when you’re a loyalty member.

Oh jet lag, you evil, evil tormentor!

Keep in mind, jet lag can affect you in different ways based on your age, state of health and stress levels.

I’ve compiled a list of suggestions on how to avoid succumbing to jet lag:

  • Keep a light schedule a couple days before your flight, don’t cause yourself added stress. If you can, throw out a rigid eating and sleeping schedule, this will make it easier for you to adjust to a new time zone.
  • Get a good night’s sleep the night before your flight. Sometimes I find it difficult to sleep the night before a flight, but here a few things that could help:
    • Put away the electronics an hour before bed.
    • Turn your bedside clock around so you can’t see it.
    • Try to avoid caffeine (ha ha! This is probably the most difficult one!).
    • Avoid alcohol, it might make you sleepy at first, but once it wears off, you’ll be wide awake.
    • Dim the lights 2-3 hours before bedtime to signal your brain to produce melatonin.
    • Run a white noise app or a fan while you sleep.
    • Take a warm shower or bath.
  • Try to book flights that arrive during the day – you’ll be more apt to stay awake and explore if the sun is shining.
  • Avoid alcohol – altitude and dehydration don’t mix! (Unlike Clamato and Vodka! – unless you’re American, then tomato juice and Vodka!).
  • Set your watch to your destination once you board the plane – a little psychological trick for your brain (just don’t do this beforehand or you could miss your flight!).
  • Stretch or walk occasionally, especially if it’s a long flight. Here is a helpful link to 10 Exercises You Can Do on an Airplane Without Looking Weird.

Free WIFI at 10,000 feet

There are a limited number of airlines that offer free wifi (maybe one day all airlines will catch up to this century and offer free wifi across the board) and most are not North American airline companies, which is too bad considering how reliant North America is on internet access.

Prices range from $4.95 (USD) to upwards of $49 (USD) depending on your device and if it’s an hourly rate. I researched the following websites and confirmed that these 4 airlines provide free wifi:

Emirates – 20MB and up to 2 hours free
JetBlue Airways – 100% free (if JetBlue can do it, why can’t all the other airlines?)
Norwegian – 100% free (select flights, not available on international long-haul flights, which is probably where you’d need it the most!)
Nok Air – 100% free

If there is anything I can do to assist you in making your travels stress free and help you grow your business, I have a plethora of skills and experience in my portfolio. Contact me today and let’s discuss what I can do for you!

If you have any tips and tricks of your own, share them in the comments below!

Stay tuned for the next blog where I’ll share what tasks a virtual assistant can handle to relieve your stress and worry while you’re away!

Safe and Happy Travels!

How to Operate a Successful Business in the 21st Century

Can you remember what small businesses were like in 2000?

It doesn’t seem like that long ago, but the world has changed more than we realize in the last 17 years. Cell phones have gone from luxuries to replacing landlines. The internet has gone from AOL and Lycos to a vast network of interconnected businesses and social media. (And let’s not forget; cat videos.)

As a small business owner in the 21st century, there are some essential operating elements that would have seemed unnecessary only a few years ago. Here are some “musts” for entrepreneurs in the 21st century.

1. Virtual Office

Today’s business culture has shifted and we now need to be able to work from anywhere. Whether you have a brick and mortar office as well as a “virtual” office, or you work entirely remotely, it’s now entirely reasonable to work from home, a coffee shop, or even a tropical island resort.

Leveraging the advantages of the virtual world can help to get you and your business ahead. One of the greatest enhancements of today’s virtual marketplace is the ability to share and delegate work virtually.

How well do you understand the concept of a Virtual Assistant? A VA is a virtual employee who you hire to remotely do tasks for you. A VA can do everything from booking airline flights, to organizing your emails, to doing your bookkeeping.

If you really want to succeed in business in the 21st century though, you need to understand and leverage the concept of the Virtual Office. In 2000, it would have been unthinkable not to have a centralized office location where all of your employees go every day to do work. Today, with the availability of digital services to sync files and documents, you don’t have to be sitting side-by-side with other employees in order to get work done. You can simply communicate through digital means, such as chat or online voice messaging.

A virtual office is what makes a Virtual Assistant possible. From their workplace on the other side of the country (as an example), they can screen your calls, answer your emails, manage your scheduling, post to your social media, and do everything that a full-time, in-house employee could do, but at a much lower cost. Now that is the 21st century!

The virtual world can be both a blessing and a curse. It can be liberating to be able to work from anywhere, but sometimes it can also feel oppressive that business now demands that you’re so much more accessible. However, we believe in the importance of shutting off and taking a real vacation, and that’s completely possible when you have a Virtual Assistant who can take care of things for you while you’re away.

2. Lower Overhead

Lowering your overhead has always been a necessity for small businesses, but today there are more opportunities than ever to cut costs and increase efficiency. This is especially important now that rental office and retail spaces have become so much more expensive. One of the beauties of a virtual office is that you don’t need to pay rent for a large workplace. You can instead get a smaller and possibly much nicer office because you won’t have multiple employees working there.

Similarly, Virtual Assistants can save you a huge amount of money. A full-time employee costs you more than just their salary. When you have on-site staff, you need to equip them with office furniture, a computer, a telephone line, etc. and spend money to train them, pay their benefits, give them time off… It can really get expensive! With a Virtual Assistant, you don’t have to worry about any of that. Having a Virtual Assistant is a great way to cut costs for your small business.

3. Digital Marketing

The advertising game has changed an awful lot since the days of Mad Men. Today, you need to be savvy to digital marketing in order to get the word out about your small business.

A polished, professional website has gone from a plus to an absolute necessity. It should be professionally written and be optimized for search engines, ie. SEO. Essentially, this means that your business is easy for your customers to find–and of course you want existing and potential customers to find you! This is made possible through the use of keywords and links. When optimized well, your site will get a high ranking on search engines so it will show up early in search results.

Social media is another essential component in a digital marketing strategy. If you aren’t tweeting every day, you’re missing a huge opportunity to become part of the digital conversation. If you want something to tweet about, start a weekly blog and post a link to it. This keeps you alive in the digital world and makes your company look active and engaged.

Developing a digital marketing strategy can initially be rather confusing, but a Virtual Assistant can help you to create and implement a strategy that will bolster your business’ visibility, growth, and success.

4. Innovation

Innovation is possibly the most important 21st Century business must, and also the most vague.

When it comes to talking about the future, we have no idea what’s coming down the pipeline. All you need to do is look at predictions from the 1960s of what our world would look like in the 2000s to see that human prediction is rarely accurate. Do you have a flying car? Exactly.

Keeping on top of new technological developments and innovations within your business is how you can stand on the cutting edge of what’s to come. Ten years ago, who knew that Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter would become essential business tools? If you keep an eye out for the next big thing, you might be able to spot it before anyone else. That is how you can get the edge in the 21st century!

Creating a Strong Business Foundation

If you want some help finding your business edge, I would be happy to offer my services as a Virtual Assistant. I have extensive experiences in multiple industries and can bring all of the knowledge to help your business grow and move ahead as we approach 2020. Just send me a message, and we can get started.

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