Why Smart Business Owners Use Virtual Assistants

ct web designby Michelle Anastasio, guest blogger

“Why should I hire a Virtual Assistant?  This is probably the most frequently asked question we get from potential clients when initially deciding they need help with running their business.  Many think hiring a physical assistant is the only option they have.  This is not always the best choice in the beginning as there are many things to consider when hiring a physical employee.  More and more businesses are considering whether a virtual assistant might be in their best interest. Here are just 7 reasons to rethink your staffing approach:

  1. Employees cost more than their salary
  2. You have to find a place to put people
  3. You need to keep the people you have busy
  4. Availability isn’t the same as competency
  5. Employees don’t really work eight hours a day
  6. Firing people is a hassle
  7. Your personnel budget is suffocating your margin for growth

Now that it’s clear why incorporating Virtual Assistance to be a great alternative to hiring in-house staff, you may be wondering “What can a virtual assistant do for me and my business?”  Turning to a Virtual Assistant helps business owner free up time and simplifies their life so they can concentrate on the more important aspects of growing their business. Whether you are looking for project-based or ongoing support, Virtual Assistants only charge for the actual time they spend working on your projects; usually down to the minute.  Virtual Assistants offer a wide range of Administrative, Marketing and Business Supports Services, providing their clients precisely what they need; when they need it.  In general, working with a VA can help a business owner to become more efficient and effective overall.  Below are just some of the services we provide to our clients:

  • Administrative & Personal Assistant Support
  • Sales Support & CRM Administration
  • Internet & Email Marketing Services
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Blog/Website Administration

As a business owner, you might want to ask yourself:

  • With the tremendous and rapid growth of social media and blogging, are you overwhelmed and have no idea where to begin?
  • Do you have a business meeting or event you need to organize but don’t have the time or an assistant to help you with the event?
  • Are you spending valuable time on administrative tasks necessary to run your office smoothly, but it’s taking you away from growing your business?

If you answered YES to any of these questions, it might be time to hire a Virtual Assistant.  Making an attempt to do it all yourself doesn’t make for a more profitable business; it can actually have a negative impact on your growth and work/life balance.

Michelle Anastasio is the CEO and Founder of CT Virtual Assistance, a Norwalk, Connecticut-based firm providing outsourced services spanning social media marketing, online marketing, research, operations, and administration. Her marketing and advertising experience is fifteen years strong and Ms. Anastasio develops custom, cost-effective strategies for local and national businesses across varied categories. For more information, call (203) 354-8749, or visit www.ctvirtualassistance.com.

(Photo courtesy stockimages, freedigitalphotos.net)

Central CT Abundance Project

Do you use Abundance thinking to bring success to your business? Here’s a little reminder about the new group that is starting this coming Friday at 9:30am, here in Bristol.

I hope you’ll read here about my Abundance Project. This past year has proved more than any other that abundant thought is key to an abundant business, yet human nature steps in often and doubt prevails. My new business group will meet monthly here in Bristol to explore abundance and to provide real, practical ways to bring more abundance into our thinking and businesses. Join me for the journey!**

ct web designer

** Not familiar with Meetup? It’s worth signing up for a free account and joining my group, even if you don’t plan to attend. Meetup is the only online social media tool with the sole purpose of bringing groups together face-to-face, and my business has expanded greatly by being there, thanks to some awesome folks who have started very effective business network groups.

You will be awesome in 2014!

2014 CT Web DesignerHow did it go? Wish to erase 2013 from the Great Calendar of Life? Or, was it a banner year you’d like to repeat?

I’d be lying if I said that 2013 didn’t have challenges. Significant challenges. Massive hurdles, actually. But, today, I’m looking back and seeing those hurdles as learning experiences that have made my business (and yes, me) better in the long haul. Here’s a quick look back, and ahead.

Accomplished in 2013

We expanded our team. With the addition of Stephen (lead developer) and Jacob (my assistant and WordPress development ninja), and our newest strategic partner Mike (video production and online marketing), we have been able to expand offerings and push the boundaries of design and functionality in our WordPress websites.

We got better at what we do. The collaborative efforts of Shane (designer) and Stephen have led us to create awesome-looking WordPress sites for our clients that are responsive (scale perfectly to all sizes of devices). Our content writers really help clients make their businesses “come alive” with awesome text. New methods of online marketing, especially videos combined with YouTube promotion, are giving site owners websites that actually work – bringing in new clients and more money.

We love what we do. The more I get out there and network, the more I learn about cool businesses that are brand new to me. This is the fun part for us! The unique challenges of your business can become unique opportunities, and we get to show you how. Check out some of our successes here: NFR Portfolio.

We built a whole lot of websites. We completed 25 or so projects of varying sizes in 2013, and continue to help those clients with their online presence. The North Forty Road family continues to expand!

Plans for 2014

Continue providing great service. Our clients love our work, but they also love our team. “Shane was awesome!” is a an email message I’ve received more than once! We have fun together, and I plan to discover more ways to keep that fun going. A happy team is a great team for you.

Expand our offerings. We’re getting started on a very large WordPress-based online store that I’m very excited about. We’ve done e-commerce before, but never on this scale. It’s an awesome challenge, and both the client and my team can’t wait to sink our teeth into it. More opportunities for online marketing (social, video, blogging, newsletters) are developing every day as well, so a package offering for small businesses will be rolling out soon.

Reach out more. Networking, phone calls, lunch meetings. Listening to each person’s business challenges and ideas. Connecting people that have like minds. Providing what advice I can. These are all fundamental to my work, and are the fun part. This year, I will be starting group devoted to Abundance thinking as well.

Gratitude. None of this could happen without the team, without my amazing clients, or without you. Thanks for being part of the NFR family, whether as a client, friend, or polite onlooker. You’re the center of all of this!

So there it is… where we are, and where we’re going. I hope you have found some inspiration in this brief look back and ahead, and I’d love to hear your own story!

(Photo courtesy gubgib, freedigitalphotos.net)

Happy Christmas and an Abundant 2014!

As 2013 draws to a close, I once again would like to thank all of you, my friends and colleagues, for making 2013 so remarkable. My best wishes to you and yours for a fabulous Christmas week and an amazing 2014! May your days be merry and bright.

And, speaking of 2014, I hope you’ll read here about my Abundance Project. This past year has proved more than any other that abundant thought is key to an abundant business, yet human nature steps in often and doubt prevails. My new business group will meet monthly here in Bristol to explore abundance and to provide real, practical ways to bring more abundance into our thinking and businesses. Join me for the journey!**

ct web designer

** Not familiar with Meetup? It’s worth signing up for a free account and joining my group, even if you don’t plan to attend. Meetup is the only online social media tool with the sole purpose of bringing groups together face-to-face, and my business has expanded greatly by being there, thanks to some awesome folks who have started very effective business network groups.

New WordPress updates: new interface, and safer.

Do you worry about your WordPress website getting hacked? Let’s talk about doing software upgrades to keep you safe.

WordPress, as you know, is our primary design tool, which allows website owners to blog, edit and change content, and have websites grow as needed. It is wildly popular: some estimates indicate that 20% of the internet is now populated with WordPress websites. You’re in good company!

In recent weeks, the WordPress development team has released two new versions of the core software that makes our websites work, and they are a big deal. The latest version, 3.8, introduces a fresh new look for the Admin dashboard, and makes the Admin usable in all devices. It’s actually pretty slick – I’ve included a preview image here:

CT Web Design WordPress

However, the previous release, 3.7, includes a very important new feature – background updates.

If you’re an iPhone user, you’ll remember the upgrade that iOS introduced awhile back. Even amidst the trouble people had with this upgrade, one of the important features is the ability for your phone to upgrade apps in the background automatically. What a time saver!

The WordPress background updates provide a similar convenience, but far more important. The newest version of WordPress will automatically apply software and security patches that protect your site against ever-changing malware and viruses. This is huge. Hackers, for no real apparent reason, have become more and more prevalent, and websites are always at risk.

So, get those upgrades in place! But, wait. 

You’ll want to have a pro do these upgrades for you. Why? Sometimes plugins and themes that are part of a WordPress install don’t play well with new WordPress software. The developers that build plugins and themes try to keep up, but can’t always. For this reason, it is important to have your web person back up the site, carefully do the updates, and test. Here are some links to more detail:

Contact us today to upgrade your WordPress software! It’s a minor investment for your own business’ security online.

What’s SEO got to do with me?

CT Web SEOIf you’re a business owner, you’ve heard this term SEO hundreds of times. And, even for me, a web guy, the term honestly brings on some significant tension. Let’s talk about it, because SEO is something you need in order to grow, and perhaps we can even make it fun… a little.

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and not too many years ago it was only mildly complicated. We web designers would help you write text for your website that had certain key phrases included that were terms people might type into Google, like “Central CT Web Design.” The pros would then optimize the site by adding code that magnified the visibility of those phrases, hoping that Google would see them and rank the website higher.

“Hoping” is the key word here… Never has there been a simple way to know how Google ranks web pages. How it really happens is a closely guarded secret, and one that changes daily. Add to that the fact that the internet grows exponentially every day (estimates say the internet is in the process of quadrupling in size from 2010 to 2015), and it seems like an impossible task.

So what do we do as business owners?

SEO has evolved into a wide range of things, and each on its own contributes to visibility both on and off of your website. These include:

  • Traditional SEO, as mentioned above.
  • Back linking (adding links to your website from other websites in a thoughtful, meaningful way).
  • Content marketing (blogging, e-newsletters, and other methods of adding quality text to your website regularly).
  • Social Marketing (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.).
  • Video Marketing (Produce regular videos for YouTube and your website).

Got that pit in your stomach yet?

Yes, it is overwhelming. However, you can be excited about the results, because when combined in a regular marketing plan, these efforts outshine all other forms of marketing, except the best one of all – word of mouth.

The best advice to offer is to surround yourself with folks you can trust, and invest some regular time and money into online marketing. Please contact us today, as my firm has built a strong network of trusted providers in each of these areas, and we’re here to help.

(Photo courtesy kromkathog, freedigitalphotos.net)

Don’t Fake It Till You Make It.

CT business websiteAs an entrepreneur, I found the following article very helpful.  It helped me see that I am not alone when I am stressed, and that it is okay to have feelings of vulnerability as a business owner.  In fact, reading this article made me recognize that because I am ambitious, and have an energetic “go get ’em” personality, I’m also a magnet for stronger emotional roller-coasters.  By recognizing these vulnerabilities, and knowing that I am not alone with these feelings, I can be comfortable expressing my business challenges, easily find healthy outlets to relieve stresses, and I don’t need to “fake it till I make it,” which this author believes is unhealthy.  What do you think?

Click here to read: The Psychological Price of Entrepreneurship

After reading this article, let us know who you feel.  Do you think business owners need to continue hiding behind a mask?  Would you do business with someone that is genuine and willing to show honest emotions?

Positive Thoughts Build Positive Momentum

ID-10076986Have you ever tried to accomplish something while being in a bad mood? If you are a business owner, did you become an entrepreneur out of fear or anger? Or, for all of you sports fans, have you ever noticed that when a team is having fun and enjoying themselves, they produce and usually win; while the team that is frustrated, angry, or just mentally not there, is usually the loser? I don’t know about you, but my bad moods get me nowhere. When I am happy, I feel energized and inspired. In The Science of Positive Thinking: How Positive Thoughts Build Skills, Boost Health, and Improve Work, James Clear analyzes why being positive and happy helps us build positive and long-lasting momentum. Please take a few minutes to read his article. If you think he is onto something, please share and/or comment.

Click here: How Positive Thoughts Build Skills, Boost Health, and Improve Work

(Photo courtesy kromkathog, freedigitalphotos.net)