I have been in a fortunate position to have been able to resign from my job and go and travel. Look, it isn’t the easiest thing to do, as it takes months and even years to plan. But it is something that I would highly recommend everyone does. Take the plunge and forget about having to sit in the traffic to get to a desk you will sit behind for 8 hours, only to get back in your car to sit in some more traffic.
Why take a sabbatical?
Why would anyone want to leave their stable job with regular income? Everyone asks, “Aren’t you scared to leave your stable job?”. Yes, it is scary to think of, but you will not have any regrets. So many people are planning and saving for their retirement, wanting to go travel only then. But realistically, would you be physically fit to do a 21km roundtrip hike to see the infamous Trolltunga in Norway, or volunteer to help build a new cattery in Sweden, at the age of 65?
A misconception for quitting your job to go travelling is that it’s expensive. It can work out cheaper than your normal day to day life with an office job. You don’t have any rent to pay or other major bills to pay. If you are smart, you can find places where you can volunteer and in return, you get accommodation and food during your stay. Volunteering can be very rewarding, and one can learn so many new skills as part of the experience.
Planning for a once in a lifetime experience
Taking time off to go and travel for a few months is not something you can just plan for a month in advance. It takes months or even years of working extra hard to earn money to save. One must cut all costs to save every penny. It’s even saying no to Friday night drinks with your friends because you need to save. Every penny counts, and it is worth it when you finally get on that plane for the adventure of a lifetime.
You don’t have to plan every single move; you can just go with the flow. Depending on your passport, you may have limited time in the country. You can have a rough idea of your trip, but it does have to be cast in stone. You may find that you love the south of France and want to stay an extra few weeks.
Nothing ‘adventured’; nothing gained
Experiencing a new culture or ticking off the hot air balloon ride that was on your bucket list can be one of the most rewarding experiences you will have, and you will carry that experience with you for life. You learn new things every day, things that you will never be able to learn by sitting at your desk doing your 8 – 5 office job. Like stumbling across a Spanish fiesta in a small coastal town and being the only English-speaking person in the crowd, but you will have one of the best nights of your life. You will also meet some really interesting people and make lifelong friends.
Be adventurous! And take the plunge – you will not regret it.
Something we all tend to talk about easily but not always “do it”. It’s easier to tell someone else that they should push their boundaries BUT when it comes to yourself, we struggle…. Well sometimes I do.
“The future is completely open, and we are writing it moment to moment.” -~Pema Chodron
These past few months, I’ve been focusing on educating myself more to be able to do my own thing. When I left my full-time job to be with my son, I had this mind set of where I wanted to be and what to do other than must being a stay-at-home mom. Life happened and things didn’t turn out exactly as I wanted but I’m okay with it, I am happy. I still haven’t educated myself as much as I expected…not at all.
At first this wasn’t so easy, I was scared – I mean, I was in a comfort zone. I had a stable job, stable income and left it for the exact opposite.I left all of this to do what I always dreamed of for a complete unknown territory. This would be the second time in my life I had this opportunity.
The first time I was too afraid to do something on my own, to step out of my comfort zone, so I said no. It was a year later where the opportunity approached me again, and I realised that I had to step out of my comfort zone. I had to give it a try, or I will regret it for the rest of my life.
After a few weeks passed I realised that, my new “environment” had so much more to offer. AND that yes, this is unknown and completely out of my own comfort zone, that I might not do everything I planned but that whatever I get done will be good enough. It was only two weeks until I had enough clients/projects lined up to be more than okay. My son was happy & healthy to be with me at home.
I suspect I didn’t do as well as I wanted to with studying and educating myself because my head wasn’t in the right place. However, my mentality has since changed, and I now find my success from setting my own boundaries – or to set fewer boundaries.
I found that defining to large goals and targets detracts from what you really set out to do. The goals I set for myself in this unknown world – to be a full-time mom, to work all day, be a homemaker AND to study – weren’t achievable.
So, today – don’t set “permanent” goals. I have a rough idea in mind, the results to be outstanding. “There are no limits to your potential achievements.”
In my opinion, push the boundaries, by not making any OR if you have them – they need to be flexible in changing circumstance. Just put in all the energy and effort you can without exhausting your other responsibilities. You will create a sense of inner self-satisfaction AND never be too hard on yourself.
You will regret not trying something, but you will never regret doing something out of your comfort zone that can be good for you!
It’s no secret that 2020 has been a year of craziness to the max and I am sure we are all looking forward to seeing the back of it as we whizz through the last few months of this year. In saying that, you may be looking at ways to bring your business to the next level in 2021 (or maybe you are still ready to go ahead with your goals and see them through to the end of this year). Whatever you are deciding, are you ready to think out of the box?
I am referring to Vision Boards.
Have you heard of them? Do you have one? Have you ever used one or at least entertained the thought of using one? You may be wondering, “How can a vision board help me grow my business?” – keep on reading and I will tell you.
What are vision boards?
As always I would like to break down what a vision board actually is before we look at why you should have one and how it will assist you in your business.
Vision boards have come a far way. They were used in ancient times to almost “predict” the future of young royals and to create a pathway to greatness. Now you may not a royal destined for the throne, but you are a person destined for greatness. You are a person destined to have success in life, especially if you own a business.
Vision boards are there to make your goal more visible. To give yourself more clarity on what it is you wish to achieve. Your goal and your vision may change as your circumstances change, and that is fine, you can change your vision board as you see fit.
So in short, a vision board is a collection of images and phrases which are relevant to your business or personal goals. It helps you to stay accountable and to stay on track in order to bring your vision to life.
Factors to creating a great vision board
When you start creating a vision board there are a few things you should take into consideration so that you make sure you have a board that truly reflects you and your business goals. Here are some of them below:
- Clarity – You need a clear vision of what you want to achieve.
- Get out of your comfort zone – Do not give yourself goals you know are easily attainable. You need to reach higher, go further and challenge yourself in order to be successful – so make goals that will require a little more effort to achieve.
- Be committed – Make sure that you are ready to put in the work to reach your goals and to make your vision come to life.
- Be reasonable – Yes, you need to challenge yourself and your goals should not be easy-peasy to reach, but you also need to make sure you give yourself enough time and have the resources at hand to reach these challenging goals.
Once you have all of these things in place you can get started with actually creating your board.
Creating your vision board
If you are not too sure where to start, Pinterest has millions of ideas and you will be spoilt for choice. Here are some of the things you may want to have at hand before you start your vision board project:
- Card paper, pin board, white board
- A collection of magazines (make sure they are ones which are likely to have images that are relevant to your goals)
- Embellishments if you are the creative or blingy type
- You can also have personal photos if they are relevant to your end goal
You will want to clear your head, be in a quiet space and be intentional when choosing the items which will go onto your vision board. DO NOT just go with the images that are pretty or look nice.
Stick them on your board with intention, even use affirmations or mantras while adding them to your board. Make it more real for yourself. Feel like you are achieving the goals one by one as you stick each image or phrase on your board.
The last step – place your vision board in a place where you will see it often through the day. The best would be to see it first thing in the morning and last thing at night – maybe make two, keep one in the office and one at home.
The more you see it the more accountable you will be to MAKE IT HAPPEN. Visual goal setting is highly effective. We are visual beings after all.
Something that is also important to know is that when you create a vision board, do not create a glorified check-list, rather use the time to become aware of where you are now, where you want to go and what you will need to get yourself there. From there you will be able to create a visual masterpiece to keep your mind in the right place and your energy flowing on the right vibration.
To summarize – vision boards are not a new age trend. In fact, many people are adopting the practice of creating a visual goal set if you will. And it is not only for personal use, you can use it to create your business success. Points to remember:
- Stay focused when creating, have relevant goals but also make them challenging. Make yourself step out of your comfort zone – that is when you will truly feel a sense of achievement.
- Choose images that are projections of where you see your business in the future as well as what will help get you there.
- Lastly, make sure you see it every day, even a few times a day, look at it, feel it, believe it. Make it yours!
Are you ready to leave this year behind you and look toward the future with your vision board?
Excellent! See you on the other side.
Some employees never thought of a future where they would be forced to work remotely for a week, two months or even longer than that. Many people lost their jobs or had to close their companies. Maybe you were a business owner who never dreamed that a ‘black swan’ like the coronavirus would hit, and now need to think of other ways to keep your business afloat or maybe you just need to start a new business so that you can earn a pay check.
When you decide to start a business, you first need to ensure that; your innovation or business idea is addressing a long term problem, it must solve a pain point, there must be a passionate market for your product or services and most importantly, it must be ethical and not be aimed at taking advantage of people during these difficult times.
If you are planning on starting a business, have no fear as a virtual assistant can help you with ANYTHING from administrative tasks to website design! We will ensure that all processes run smoothly and that your business can grow.
Here are some Covid-19 inspired business ideas that a Virtual Assistant could help with.
1. Become a professional speaker or move your speaking business online
Speakers would previously have travelled to different venues and events but since Covd-19 many of their coaching sessions, workshops and talks have now been cancelled. For this reason speakers need to turn their events into online experiences aimed at reaching audiences all over the world
We can help a professional speaker by:
- starting an online community of followers and running private Facebook groups
- deciding which tools, apps and platforms are best for you to host your webinars
- teaching you how to speak specifically to your audience online
- setting fee schedule documents which you can use to quickly respond to conference managers and event coordinators to ensure that you don’t miss out on any bookings
- helping you get onto podcasts
- helping you turn your conferences into books and designing book covers
- researching speaking opportunities that are a good fit for you and contacting the event coordinator on your behalf
- ensuing that you are paid after each event and assist you with the billing and bookkeeping
- giving you moral support and encouragement when you need it
2. Starting a Membership Programme
Many businesses like yours may have had to temporarily close their doors. Don’t view this as a total shutdown; this is a great opportunity to offer your services online. People are craving community and connection and may be facing isolation at home. Provide your clients the same value they would receive if your doors were open.
We can help you start a membership by:
- coming up with valuable content that will keep the members engaged and interested
- building and maintaining your website
- creating PDF’s, freebies and membership cards
- creating a Facebook group to encourage and manage your member community online
- writing and sending out invoices to members and keeping track of all monthly/annual subscriptions
3. Turning your Brick and Mortar Business into an online business
If your brick and mortar business is already thriving offline, then why not give web visitors the choice of either buying online or at your physical store? There are many different offline businesses that can be moved online. Here’s an example. If you like to bake, you can start baking customised wedding cakes, birthday cakes, fresh bread, cupcakes and pastries. These can be posted on your Instagram page or sent out in a WhatsApp group to people in your local area. People enjoy homemade baked goodies and may place repeat orders for two loaves of bread per week or a box of six cupcakes every Friday.
A virtual assistant can assist you by:
- making your social media pages look amazing by creating beautiful posters of your products for sale
- taking orders and ensuring that your customer s have made payments
- building brand awareness and dealing with online customer queries
- offering discounts, promotions and fun events to give people a reason to shop at your store
4. Starting up a Cleaning Company
Do you enjoy cleaning so much that you wouldn’t mind opening your own cleaning business? This is the perfect time to follow your dream as sanitation and hygiene are of utmost importance right now. Offices and homes need to be cleaned more often than before. As your commercial or residential cleaning business starts to grow, things can get tough and you will need an extra pair of hands such as ours.
A virtual assistant can help by:
- managing your schedule-there is nothing worse than being double booked
- creating contracts, invoices, service proposals and cleaning logs
- ensuring you have sufficient cleaning supplies, detergents and PPE (masks and gloves)-keeping stock of the different products can be time consuming
- placing ads on career websites and interviewing cleaning/driving staff and conducting background and criminal checks
- creating social media pages and campaigns to boost your business and show off the work that you have done for other clients
5. Starting up a Gardening Club
Most people are staying home and gardening as it is one of the most stress relieving hobbies that you can have. Some of us need a breath of fresh air every now and then as we get tired of being indoors. You can plant trees, flowers or even grow your own food. You can offer your expertise to other gardeners. You can give advice and information on how to grow a specific flower or vegetable, or how to get rid of garden bugs or you can record a video on how to arrange flowers in vase. How big your gardening business becomes depends on the time you put into it and the creativity that you have.
If you only want to be involved in the gardening part of things, we can always help with the administration by:
- coming up with creative ideas for your website and social media pages
- planning and organising how you will showcase your plants or flowers
- finding interesting new ideas all the time, such as an online cooking show using vegetables from your garden
Don’t be afraid to start that business, transform your business slightly or give it a total make over altogether. Whichever you choose, a virtual assistant will be able to provide the business support that you need.
I wouldn’t call myself an optimist. You know one of those people that seem to have rays of sunshine follow them wherever they go. I however wouldn’t call myself a pessimist either, but I certainly can feel negative at times.
Sometimes I get stuck in a perpetual cycle of negativity and guilt that is difficult to get out of and maybe you have experienced this too. “I should be positive about my privilege, food on the table, a job, health, family and have no right to feel negative about these trivial things etc. etc.”
To feel positive, you might try different techniques such as thinking positively or surrounding yourself with things that make you happy. However, often this forced focus on trying to develop a positive disposition leads you even further down the negativity path and by trying to push negativity out and force positivity in, you feed the guilt, strengthen the negativity and are left feeling emotionally drained!
Our feelings influence our behaviour and attitudes
How we feel affects our perception of a situation which gives rise to our attitude and behaviour. Therefore, it is important to acknowledge how people, things and situations make you feel in order to express the attitude and behaviour that you feel comfortable with. If this is sounding familiar, then read on for a different approach to filtering out the negative. This is a dynamic process and a constant journey, so this is food for thought from a person who is not a self-proclaimed expert on this but rather a person still navigating the methods of filtering out the negative.
Get rid of emotional pollution
Try this little exercise next time something or someone causes negative feelings, which I like to call emotional pollution. Instead of trying to force positive thinking, keep the negativity at the forefront of your thoughts and ask yourself what is making me feel negative today and what can I do about it? Is it a tarnished relationship, lack of sleep, an insurance claim, government policies? By analysing what it is about the situation that is making you uncomfortable you direct your focus on how and if you can change your situation. So, for example if a tarnished relationship is causing emotional pollution, think about how that can be changed, or weigh up the value of the relationship against the effort of maintaining or rectifying it. Should you find that the effort of maintaining the tarnished relationship far outweighs the benefit of keeping the relationship then it’s time for a change. Either the relationship needs to end or your role within the relationship needs adjusting. By shifting your focus – from being consumed by negativity and avoiding a forced, unnatural positive disposition to driving actionable change towards your negativity you will inadvertently make room for the positive.
Some things you cannot change
I know at this point you are saying ‘easier said than done’ and some things are just impossible to change and I agree, you can’t change or eliminate everything that doesn’t make you feel good.
At this point I remind myself of a very well-known mantra which I feel can be used by anyone, ‘Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.’ Some things are simply not in your control so identify those things that create negativity in your life and ask yourself is this something I can control? If yes, then take actionable steps to eliminate or change the negative aspect or causes of emotional pollution. If the answer is no, then ask yourself what can I control about this situation? The answer is to again focus on you and how you feel.
Aim to find a way to take the negative that you can’t control, change the way you feel about and accept that this is within the boundary of your control. Remember what is meant to be, will be and every day that you wake up and do your best to filter out the negative is a great start to letting the positivity in.
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Me, Myself & Marketing
A few years ago, I would have never thought that I would be a Marketing Assistant. I have always had an interest in marketing, and I have done a few courses related to it, but I never thought that what was my interest, would become my main field of work. I love marketing and to constantly learn something new about it, is what I strive for.
Let’s look at the definition of MARKETING:
Marketing as defined by the American Marketing Association: “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large”. The term was developed from the original meaning which referred to going to market with goods for sale.
In 2017 The New York Times described it as “the art of telling stories so enthralling that people lose track of their wallets.”
There are so many platforms that can be used to help you with Marketing. I think the task is a lot easier today than it was thirty years ago. We have Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and LinkedIn to name just a few. And if you do a little bit of research and a course or two, you will be able to gain the skills to effectively use them in your marketing strategy.
Tools, tools & more tools
You will definitely need a trusted friend to make life easier for you… a friend like Asana or any app that will help you to keep your marketing strategy organized. Believe me, this will help you A LOT! There are so many useful tools out there to choose from. When you have a moment to spare, have a coffee date with Mr. Google and you will be amazed to find out what is available out there to use.
Marketing and Branding, isn’t it the same thing?
What is branding and what is marketing? Isn’t it the same thing?
According to Wikipedia, “Branding is endowing products and services with the power of a brand” (Kotler & Keller, 2015).
According to (Hislop, 2001), Branding is the process of creating a relationship or a connection between a company’s product and emotional perception of the customer for the purpose of generating segregation among competition and building loyalty among customers.”
So, in a nutshell, branding is what you need to give your company/product/service a ‘face’, marketing is what you need to make this ‘face’ known and how you will use this ‘face’ to get sales. You will need a strategy for both of them.
You will work on your branding until you have completed it, but you will constantly work on your marketing.
A few Marketing secrets to keep in mind
- You need to know who you will be targeting: who will be your customers?
- You need to have your branding set up first
- Work with a plan, do not just do something because you read it someone and now decide to try it out. Plan what you want to do.
- Keep in mind how many people there are out there. Your target market does not have to include all of them. Keep your target market specific to the product/service you have to offer.
- There are certain ‘strong words’ that you can use in your marketing that will catch your customer’s attention. Words like “Free, How To, Secret, Limited offer, Don’t miss”. Words like these will create curiosity with a potential customer.
Types of Marketing Strategies
- Content Marketing
- Email Marketing
- Social Media Marketing
- Pay Per Click
- Search Engine Optimization
- Viral Marketing
- Influence Marketing
- Mobile Marketing
- Electronic Billboards
- Affiliate Marketing
What I would recommend, is once you have decided on your niche/product/service, take the time to develop your branding first and then take the time to work on an effective marketing strategy. Do research on marketing to become familiar with the possibilities that are available to use. Do research on your competitors and what they are using for marketing, this might just benefit you more than you think.
Photo by Dominika Roseclay from Pexels