I have had two conversations lately with women who were passionate about something that they wanted to turn into a business. Although this step takes courage, the rewards are immeasurable. It is immensely fulfilling to "work" daily in a field you are passionate about, and for/with like-minded individuals who value you and your skills.
If you have seen my story, you know that I fell into this work after a layoff many years ago forced me to re-evaluate what I was doing. I knew for a fact I couldn't face another job that didn't matter to me, and working for people with whom I didn't share a passion. I was tossed off that cliff and told to fly in a time when I didn't even know I had wings, let alone how to use them!
But I realized that I not only had valuable skills, but there was a whole community of people who needed and wanted support in their work. Lightseeds was a perfect match!
Now, if you are working in a job you love, good for you...stick with it as long as you feel that heart-drive. But if you want to explore creating your own business, do so with heart, with information, and with courage.
Last: DO it! Intend to do it, and take action...DO it!
Right after Christmas, here in Ohio we had two days of snowfall. I was lucky and "only" got 15 inches! I was grateful I didn't need to leave the house for a couple of days!
The snowstorm gave me time to play with a new toy! I've been seeking out tools to increase my service to clients, but also for clients to use in their own practices. One such tool is Lumen5, a video production tool that uses existing copy as the storyboard, and after you add images and music, the result is a professional, effective, and fun video!
Click here for an example!
Here are some suggestions for other tools to help grow your business.
For time management, RescueTime is an app which automatically tracks time you’ve spent on applications and websites and sends you detailed reports and data based on your activity, giving you an accurate picture of how you spent your day. If you think you're not easily distracted, this app will give you truth!
For online payment, PayPal still leads the pack, with Square running a close second. Both apps offer a card reader as well as easy online money management.
Do you want an easy way to recognize your network's accomplishments and special days? Look no further than Punchbowl, with its beautiful digital greeting cards and invitations in dozens of professional designs for personal and business use. The software saves your address book and sends reminders as well.
Dropbox is still the most popular (and easiest to use) of the file sharing programs. With free and paid versions, you can securely share files in any format via the web...so much easier and safer than emailing documents back and forth! I could not do my job without it.
For video conferencing, both Zoom and Skype do a great job...easy to set up and use, high quality recording, and available on any device.
I hope these suggestions will help you improve your productivity this year. Whether you're delegating to a person or to an app, the key is to increase your efficiency and to create new processes.
I recently realized that I omitted to do something I know is very important...update my image! I hadn't refreshed a couple of website pages, social media messages, images, etc., and so my public profile was not as current or accurate as it could (and should) be.
And so, I scheduled some block of time to attend to all this! I got new headshots, updated my marketing message, focused on some new branches of Lightseeds (speaking and leading workshops), and generally gave my work an overhaul. Very refreshing indeed!
I've written often about making sure that everything in your business still fits you - environment, message, client base, services, etc. You might find it easiest to break these tasks into "chunks" and schedule them on your calendar. For instance...
Image: check your headshot, logo, message
Online: social media profiles, website, public listings
Clients: your services, who you target, how those match
Expansion: Explore new ventures, look into expanding the business, offering new services
Connections: review your network and connect with those you have not spoken with in a while (or ever)
When you plan for these evaluations, knowing that they are scheduled in your calendar, you will take action regularly to ensure that your business image stays current, authentic and visible.
"What is a Spiritual Virtual Assistant?" This is a question I am often asked. I describe myself at different times as a spiritual or a holistic virtual assistant, because they are both accurate. This descriptor defines me as a virtual assistant with a spiritual focus. I am deeply spiritual, balanced with a very practical, business-minded side. Both of these are important to both my life AND my business. My work is supported by my intuition as well as my considerable business experience.
The work began with my corporate life and developed along with my spiritual journey. (Read more about that here if you're interested.) I realized that the people I was drawn to were all in heart-based, helping professions - healers, coaches, etc. We share a focus on making individuals, and thus the world, happier and healthier.
Here is my question to you: how do you define yourself? Not in your "30-second commercial," but in real life? How does your work define you? And vice versa? Are all aspects of you present in your work or do you define your work life very differently from your "real" life? Is that the way you like it or would you like to share more of yourself in your business? If you, for instance, are a CPA who is also deeply spiritual and with an interest in metaphysics, would you like to focus your business on strictly commercial enterprise, or would it make you happy to work with the metaphysical community?
No matter what your skill set, be authentic to who you are in your work. I know from my own and others' experience that when you can be authentic and present all aspects of yourself, you will feel a freedom and joy that carries through your whole life!
The answer is ... sometimes, depending. There now, isn't that helpful?
But seriously, a home-made website can be effective, depending on your needs and your business. As with many decisions in business, choosing the best resource also depends on your budget and expected returns.
If you're just starting out and have limited funds, you may want to consider starting on your own. A homemade website at the very least provides a landing page, an online presence for your contacts to learn more about you and your services. It is a passive resource - one to which your contacts would be directed to by other means (business cards, social media, etc.).
There are excellent DIY website solutions available at several price points. This site, for instance, is a home-made Weebly site, but other sources include Wix, Squarespace, Web.com. Many use the very easy-to-use "drag and drop" layout method, which is rather like building a puzzle.
If you are good at software and computer technology, you'll have an advantage over a complete newbie. (In fact, I don't recommend a complete newbie attempt this at all.) You'll discover how to add forms, surveys, message boards, advertising, or other perks to website effectiveness.
I can't tell you how many sites I immediately know are homemade because of the number of errors I see. I cringe when I see grammatical and punctuation errors that make the site owner look careless or ignorant. I have seen pages full of long paragraphs of text, which nobody wants to read on a website. That is not how to attract your ideal client! (This is why I developed my Website Review offering!)
BUT ... hiring a professional means you'll get all the other benefits of a truly effective website - SEO and visibility, increased traffic, interaction with prospects. A professionally built site is active - contacts find you through internet searches, and can interact with you using the tools available when the builder knows what he's doing.
Key to an effective site is to consider carefully all the aspects a pro will ask you:
If you are clear on these answers and feel confident in your ability to successfully execute them, then have at it! But when you're done, have a few professional friends review the site for appeal and accuracy, so your clients know they're dealing with a pro!
I am often asked why I call myself a Spiritual Virtual Assistant. In fact, a couple of coaches over the years have recommended I drop the "Spiritual" in order to attract a more mainstream audience.
They missed the point - I don't WANT a more mainstream audience! My "peeps," my ideal clients, are those who are heart-based, who offer services that benefit their clients, mind, body and/or soul. I have worked with coaches, authors, intuitives, holistic health workers and the like. We all address all aspect of the person we’re working with.
For instance, I work with two talented business coach clients. On the surface they may not appear “holistic,” however these two women work from the heart, teaching their clients and their audiences to have happy, healthy lives, whether at work or at play. They know how important “me time” is to a busy entrepreneur, and how much of an energetic impact cooperative teamwork can have.
In my own practice, I have a holistic process in working with clients. I allow my intuition and my gut to guide me, I rely on my left brain to provide a framework, and I listen on a deep level to the words and feelings in our conversations.
So ask yourself the question, “What does it mean to ME to be holistic?” How do you do what you do in a holistic way, or do you? How do you incorporate the whole person, and sometimes the whole organization, into your teaching or your practice?
If you can’t answer the question at this point, it might be helpful to look at your practice as a whole. What processes could change to better benefit you and your client? How can your marketing more holistically reach your ideal audience? How can you redefine your work when asked, “So what do you do?”
When you feel satisfied with the answers to these questions, then you’ll know you’re truly operating from a holistic standpoint.
Have you ever taught a class or workshop and didn’t create any handouts, workbooks, or training manuals because you didn’t know how? Here’s your brief guideline!
Start by looking at your notes or script for the class. Type (or write) the key points you will teach. Under each, in outline format, type the sub-points. For instance, let’s say you want to teach a class on how to create an organic garden. Your key points could include soil, water, light, fertilizer, plants to choose, etc. Under the heading for soil, you might write what key components of the soil should be, nutrients, maintenance, etc.
Be sure to include some form of paper take-away for reference and marketing purposes. Your workbook or handout should include the key talking points (but not all the information you discussed), branding and contact information for your business, and perhaps other resources. Be sure it is professional and attractive in appearance, and reflects the colors and fonts of your branding.
If you are creating an actual workbook that you want students to use during and after class, you may need more expertise than you have, unless you’re excellent at Word or Pages. The workbook should reflect all the considerations above, but also be easy to use. Ensure sufficient space to write, offer open-ended and provocative questions to get students thinking and feeling, and offer clear organization of the material.
This overview of content creation will get you started on creating a more useful and engaging training or class. And when you need more help, you know where to go: LightseedsbyHolly.com!
Think carefully about this – how often during your average day do you explain something to someone? How often do you find yourself teaching something you know, whether related to work or play? Do you realize the wealth of information, experience, guidance that you contain in your mind? Last question: have you ever considered deliberately sharing this with a target audience?
When I self-published my own book, The Spiritual Virtual Assistant, the intent was to encourage and teach others to do what I do – administratively support Lightworkers. The feedback from readers has been wonderful! And now because I have shared a portion of my expertise with a wider audience, I am (rightfully) perceived as an expert in my field.
A book also, of course, serves as a reference tool for the reader. When you write non-fiction based on your experience, it becomes a resource for the reader to refer to again and again – and in the process bringing you and your work back into the conscious mind.
And of course, if you write fiction, you’re offering hours of entertainment, and perhaps enlightenment, to the world.
With the rapid rise in popularity of self-publishing, book publication is no longer a pipe dream. If you choose to obtain a traditional publisher, the initial process can be a great challenge, however once you find an agent and/or publisher, the marketing and sales process is largely off your shoulders. With self-publication, the initial process is simpler and shorter, but because you’re on your own the marketing and sales are part of your process. Do a great deal of research on your options, and be prepared to do your part, whatever you decide.
Bless the world with your thoughts and experience – write a book!
Lately I've had a series of conversations about the difference between having a practice and having a business. Yes, there's a great deal of overlap. However one can have a practice, doing their "work", without making a business of it. It's all about mindset.
Think of a massage therapist who has studied a variety of healing techniques to expand her services. She practices out of her home as well as a healing center, and has a good client base. Is this a business? No, not necessarily.
If this practitioner has a marketing plan, client management and retention systems, a budget, plans and visions for where the work is going, then yes, she has a business. She is in "business mindset," working both ON and IN her practice.
Moderate success can be obtained if she chooses to simply "do her work." However true satisfaction for the entrepreneur comes with a business mindset, with measurable goals and visions.
Is the "just want to be a practitioner" wrong? Absolutely not! But she needs to be aware that without the business mindset, she may not be not in control of the practice - she's merely drifting. The focus on the work as a business provides a firm foundation for growth, and that growth allows her to be of better service to more people. And that's what we're all about, isn't it!
Working on a major book launch recently, I was reminded how important it is to share resources with like-minded folks. Every time you have an event of major impact to your business, it's important to recruit as many partners as you can to share the load!
Think about emails or social media posts you've seen, where a group of people come together to share their gifts if you take some sort of action: buy a book, join a workshop or teleseminar. Not only is this incredibly valuable to you as a reader or guest to the event, it's incredibly valuable to the joint venture partners as well!
Let's say you have an important new product launch...for example, a series of online workshops. Whether you have a large or a small mailing list, you know you want to attract more people to the series than you can reach alone. This is prime real estate for joint partners!
In exchange for the opportunity to market their "bonus gifts" on your workshop website and to share the workshop announcements with their followers (and thus increase their marketing reach), you will be including their gifts in your own marketing for the series, and the gifts add greatly to the perceived value of your workshop series (simultaneously increasing your marketing reach). There are many ways to structure such a joint venture - read more about it online. But remember, you don't have to do it alone! Reach out to appropriate partners and share the rewards!
Welcome! These stories, tips and tricks are intended to help you save time, and be more organized and effective in your work. New items will be added frequently so check back often.