See-saw, Marjorie daw…Johnny shall have precisely the length of 1 Peppa Pig episode to do ALL THE THINGS!
Yup, we’ve all been there. And when you are running a microbusiness, you don’t have the luxury of being able to plan your income and fork out for childcare on the basis of work which may or may not materialise. So your business survives on snatched minutes whilst the kids watch TV, begging for a few hours babysitting from relatives, or you burning the candle at both ends and working whilst they sleep.
Except you know that each holiday your business suffers as your plans get shelved – and you suffer from a see-saw effect of you having to start afresh each new term because you lost the momentum in the holidays.
So what’s the solution?
Well, firstly having one day a week where you definitely get to work is a good idea. You can plan in your meetings for that day with certainty, you can use it to catch up on all the things you have to do, it means regular tasks like bookkeeping and planning all get done on that day. So that might be a day when your partner does drop offs and pick ups at a holiday club, or it might be a day you beg from grandparents and ignore the truckloads of sweeties and junk they feed them, or you hire a nanny to do that one day a week… Or maybe it is a Saturday when your partner is off work and he does the childcare that day without bugging you. The main thing is, you don’t get your working day gazumped by the minutiae of domestic chores. Believe me, the washing pile will still be there this evening (unfortunately!).
Secondly automate as much as possible. If you get lots of emails asking you the same question, stick your response somewhere prominent on the website or have your autoresponder include it. Tim Ferriss in “The Four Hour Work Week” has some great tips on automating your business and cutting down on unnecessary work time.
And thirdly get some flexible help – virtual assistants are highly skilled and will work on an hourly basis whenever you need them. It’s not like having an employee, you aren’t committed to hiring them. They can do the admin stuff which you just need done – so that might be sorting out your Twitter feed, or maybe it’s processing orders each day. If you can tell someone how to do it, your VA can take it off your To Do List and free up your time to do the more strategic, added value and business-building parts of your job. Usually UK VAs charge between £15-£40 an hour, which sounds like a lot but you will find their expertise will often save you time as they are able to suggest shortcuts to help you run your business.
For example, I know a business where their employees were all saving their receipts, typing them into a spreadsheet, then submitting them to be reimbursed as expenses which the accounts assistant then had to process. We introduced them to an app which let them photograph the receipt on their iphone which uploaded it onto their accounts system and automatically created an expense report for reimbursement at the end of each month – best news: the app was free because they only had 3 people in the company. That was at least 4 hours saved monthly. Find your VA on http://www.societyofvirtualassistants.co.uk/
So hopefully those tips will let you keep your business in equilibrium over the summer!
This guest post is contributed by Caroline Wylie. Caroline has been a Virtual Assistant (VA) since 2004 in her business, Virtually Sorted. With a background in music and advertising, she worked in the creative industries for over 10 years, both in London and Glasgow. Trying to avoid wearing a suit every day, Caroline switched into entrepreneur mode and has never looked back. Virtual assistance in the UK was a fledgling industry in 2004, so she worked with a collection of VAs to educate the business community about virtual working which grew rapidly into the Society of Virtual Assistants in 2006. SVA is the largest organisation of UK virtual assistants with over 1,500 active members, a forum, regular newsletters, the virtual assistant diary, and regular features to help promote best practice in the industry. Along the way she has lectured at various universities in the creative industries, appeared on conference panels, conducted workshops and presented at exhibitions such as Office* and The VA Conference. Topics featured include:
• Getting Your Music in the Movies
• Working in the Creative Industries
• The Lazy Mare’s Guide To Marketing
• Virtual Working in the 21st Century
• Guerrilla Twitter and Other Social Media Shortcuts
In her role as founder of SVA, she has previously judged the VA of the Year Awards, runs the UK VA Survey each year and is the UK representative of the world’s first virtual assistant certification programme, VAcertified.
Caroline lives in Glasgow, with her husband Craig, their two young children and her crazy Burmese cat. Her mantra remains “I must wear jeans to the office”.