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!
"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!
I often write and speak about delegating and outsourcing whatever does not serve you and your business. But how do you know for SURE what those tasks should be?
Let me give you an example. I had a client (who for the sake of simplicity I will call Carol) who was a speaker and author and also individually coached clients. She did all those things while simultaneously scouting and scheduling her own speaking engagements, researching publishers and websites for her writing, preparing for and scheduling clients. AND attempting to create a website, a social media presence, and copy writing.
Tired? That’s not the word for it! Ineffective? Yeah, that too. Carol’s every moment was filled with work, yet little got accomplished. She was amazing with words - a superb writer and an engaging speaker. She enjoyed using her words one-on-one with clients. Because of this she was also a great copy writer and knew what she wanted to convey.
But Carol frequently missed client appointments, lost her notes on speaking engagements, and missed publication deadlines. Her online presence was not professional because she had few technical skills, and it showed.
When she finally decided she could do better, she scheduled a call with me, and together created a list of the tasks she is just awful at doing but that were important. Staying with the “important” classification, then we then tackled the tasks she did a fair job or was awesome at doing. Carol could see that she spent a great deal of time on tasks that not only she did not do well, but that she could easily outsource to those who DO do them well. After learning to delegate, she found a wealth of time she could spend on those tasks that not only served her business but that she very much enjoyed.
You can follow Carol’s example – download your own complimentary Delegation Audit here, and learn what tasks you could be delegating to an expert assistant.
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.
Are you contemplating starting or finishing that long-awaited book? Yes, long-awaited – your clients and prospects need to hear what you have to say! Think of all the experience you have in your field, all the expertise, tips, ideas, and enthusiasm. If you ever say to yourself, “Sure, but others have already said it better than I could!” then think again – nobody else has your unique filter, your individual experience, and that specific experience could be exactly what others need to connect with.
Also think about your own mentors, those from whom you have gained knowledge, a creative spark, or a push toward a goal. Imagine what it would feel like to be those things for others. It is thrilling to see the excitement generated by the transfer of ideas between like-minded people.
If you’re a “framework first” kind of person, then start with an outline. What general topics do you want to cover? Within each of those main points, jot down what you specifically want to talk about.
If you’re a “let it flow” kind of person, then do just that. Let the words flow, as if you were talking to a friend. Add the structure when you’re done – look at each idea you’ve written, and rearrange like a jigsaw puzzle into a logical order and structure for your readers.
Think too of what final format would be right – a brief e-book? A lengthier published work? A series of articles online?
There are many online resources to help you get going, and to help with final structure. First, GET IT DONE. Get the book out of your mind and onto paper, then decide how to best share with your public.
If you work from home as I do, how do you keep your life separate from your work – or do you need to?
Without firm boundaries (working hours, privacy, accessibility) we can too easily become overwhelmed and overworked. It's important to me, and perhaps to you as well, that my spirituality surround and fill everything I do in my work and my home life. However when you work from your home it's important that you not allow your working life to overtake your home life.
For example, your work may rely heavily on phone calls. Do you have set working hours after which you will not accept calls? You should! Do you check your work email 7 days a week? Probably not a good idea.
Give yourself (and your family) the courtesy to honor your everyday life. Your work may be important, but your health, family and friends are your very life.
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!
At first pass, this seems obvious, but when you first start working with any sort of helper, you may rush to delegate tasks without proper planning: “Here, do this.” If “this” is something you love to do that supports you, then that is not the best task to delegate. Assign the tasks that support your work, that you either can’t or don’t want to do well, and that take time you choose to spend elsewhere. Another way to look at this is to "play to your strengths."
Let's say you ROCK at writing and stink at disciplining yourself to post blogs or social media content, or get your newsletter out to an adoring public. Then write, and delegate the "git er done" to someone else!
Maybe you have so many client appointments that you spend more time scheduling than working with them. Delegate! Either hire someone to schedule for you, or use one of the many online schedulers to plug into your website.
Or what if you are an expert networker and love connecting people. Then YOU should be the one attending events and making connections, while someone else does the data entry to record those connections.
You get the idea. Make a list of what in your work you love to do, you do well, and that serves your business. Do that! And delegate the rest to a willing helper.
Don't think you have anyone to delegate to? WRONG! My friend Lisa Crilley Mallis of SystemSavvy Consulting will prove otherwise...here.
We're all in business to serve our clients as well as ourselves. But we must keep the balance between the two. I was recently approached by someone seeking my service who, upon first contact, did not feel like a right-fit client. Although there may have been a few things I could do for her, it would not serve me to do so, as the energy did not feel right between us.
Occasionally I am contacted by those who are not fully committed to their work and want to delegate everything, or those who believe they need help but are not willing to let go of control. I've also worked with people who misunderstand my role as an entrepreneur and treat me like an employee.
The ideal match for me is the person who is committed to her own success, knows her own strengths and the areas in which she wants support, and has a plan to achieve her goals.
So, that said, think about your own work. Who do you ideally want to work with? Get a picture of your ideal client and what your ideal work would be. Do you "settle" by contracting with people who don't quite fit? Or do you stand true to your vision and skills, and create boundaries about your work?
The true joy comes in the match, when you attract the right fit client, for whom you are also a perfect fit.
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.