Virtual Biz Bits Blog

Member Spotlight–Pamela Lewerenz

Posted by on Sep 29, 2016 in Blog Posts, Member of the Month | 0 comments

Member Spotlight–Pamela Lewerenz

NEVA welcomes our newest member, Pamela Lewerenz of Balanced Numbers Consulting Services LLC!

1. Why did you decide to start a virtual business?

I have always wanted to be a business owner. Getting away from the stress of the office environment and having to be a slave to the 9-to-5 grind was my first goal. As I developed my business plan, I focused my energy on balancing my love of the business world with my passion for helping others.

2. What is your niche or specialization?

I enjoy working with entrepreneurs who want to create a work life balance, set and obtain their goals, and/or need assistance with coordinating their business tasks. Since accounting, bookkeeping, and budgeting is in my blood, I work with quite a few people in the financial services field; however, my only prerequisite is your willingness to be open to change so any small business owner is welcomed.

3. What is your background and how does it fit into your virtual business?

I have worked in the education and health fields as an administrator. For 12 years, I was an elected tax collector in my hometown. I went to business school and college for Accounting and Business Management with a minor in Information Systems & Operations Management but that seems like many moons ago! I continue to stay up-to-date on the latest technological advances by attending annual conferences. I also take continuing education classes in many different areas each year.

4. What makes you and your business stand out from the rest?

My motto is “collaboration is key.” I treat each client as an individual and design my services to meet their needs.

5. What advice would you give to a person, who wants to start a virtual business?

My advice for anyone wanting to start a virtual business is that communication is key. Use a client relationship management system (CRM) to organize your workflow and stay in touch with your clients. This is such an important piece of setting up your business.

6. Do you have any other comments or something you want to add?

I will just add that I offer a 30-minute free consultation for those interested in learning more about my services and how they can save you time and money in your life. I welcome new clients! I am always focused on giving you quality service to help you grow your business, put efficiency in your workload, ease your stress, and assist you in structuring your business to suit your needs.

pamela logPamela Lewerenz
Balanced Numbers Consulting Services LLC
888-434-0046

Member Spotlight — Jeannette Tibbetts

Posted by on Aug 9, 2016 in Blog Posts, Member of the Month | 0 comments

Member Spotlight — Jeannette Tibbetts

This month’s member in the spotlight is Jeannette Tibbetts of JTypePlus.

 

I’m Jeannette Tibbetts and my company name is JTypePlus. Let’s start this interview by explaining my business name: JT is for Jeannette Tibbetts…who types plus a whole lot more! Kooky, I know. And difficult to pronounce if you don’t know the story (did that stop Nike…who knew you had to pronounce the “e”?). If I could go back seven years and rename my company, I would.

Why did you decide to start a virtual business?

Back in 2009, I realized I could write grants for my husband-at-the-time’s (HATT) church restoration company (I could contact the churches and offer to procure grants and charge his company for my time…the plan was to get him more work during the Great Recession). Well, it didn’t quite work out that way—grant writing is a PIA, and securing grants is not a sure thing.

But, the idea of working from home for small businesses really clicked with me. I already was doing my HATT’s administrative work. Why not find a few solo entrepreneurs/micro-businesses in need of administrative help?

What is your niche or specialization?

I hate the word “niche.” One of my first memories of the first year in business was at a NEVA Luncheon in CT. Everyone was talking about their niche. I didn’t have one then. And I don’t have one now. I do have a target market—solo entrepreneurs and micro-businesses…often those who have events they need to market, but not always.

What is your background and how does it fit into your virtual business?

My background is secretarial…went to a community college and received an Associate’s in Secretarial Science, way back in 1980—before computers, cell phones; shorthand was still taught! I worked for a law firm, a construction company, temped and finally a consultant. That’s when my official secretarial career ended—I had babies and stayed home (doing HATT’s administrative work). While working, I always jumped at any opportunity to educate myself (at the expense of the company for which I was working). In 2009, while hanging with my best friend, I learned social media with our laptops atop our laps and haven’t stopped learning since.

What makes you and your business stand out from the rest?

I don’t think my business stands out “from the rest.” I don’t think there are enough Virtual Assistants to worry about that. And every VA company offers different services.

What advice would you give to a person who wants to start a virtual business?

Pick services that you REALLY want to do. Don’t do stuff you don’t want to do. That’s one of the best parts of being a Virtual Assistant. You can pick and choose.

And don’t overthink starting your business. Just find a few small businesses that need administrative help (there are so many out there!)…you’ll know right away if you connect with them. Price your services reasonably at the beginning and make it a policy that your prices will increase yearly.

And keep learning…you want to stay ahead of your target market.

JTypePlus in Western MA
774-454-8749
jeannette @ jtypeplus.com

Monetizing Social Media 101: Twitter for Businesses

Posted by on Jun 14, 2016 in Member Posts | 0 comments

Monetizing Social Media 101: Twitter for Businesses

By Jacqueline Davis, NEVA Member and owner of VirtuallyHere.net

In Monetizing Social Media 101, we help you zero in on the best social platforms for your business–and how you can use them to increase your business’ bottom line. This week we focus on catapulting your customer connections and engagement with Twitter. Your business can use Twitter to personally connect with customers on an instantaneous basis, or, if you’re in B2B, foster relationships with other business owners throughout the world.

140 Characters to Connect with your Audience

Unimpressed with Twitter? You may think most users fill their 140 character posts with casual, banal TMI–but in the world of business, Twitter is a whole different ballgame. On Twitter, your business can:

  • Advertise and promote products and events for free.
  • Communicate directly with your customers.
  • Search out and connect with qualified leads.
  • Connect with and build relationships with influencers in your industry.
  • Circulate your content marketing to a larger audience.

Unlike typical Twitter users, your business Twitter account should be focused on your customer’s needs. It’s never all about you–it’s all about servicing your customer. Think of Twitter as an extended customer service platform. Stay attentive to what users post on you and respond to everything–good and bad comments. Don’t be afraid of addressing sticky customer issues. Openly resolving customer complaints looks good on your virtual record. Retweet customer kudos’ or mentions of using your products. You can even use Twitter polls to get specific, immediate feedback from your followers. By just posting alone, you can be your own social media PR–but you can do far more than just blast your news to the world on Twitter.

Searching Twitter

You can use the search function on Twitter to find and connect with qualified leads; people who are looking for the information you provide and Tweeting about your area of business or related subjects.  You can also hunt down conversations that are relevant to your industry and join in–this will help you get your voice out there to people who are interested in your field–but it can also connect you with influencers in your industry. Twitter users use #’s to make it easier to find subjects they are interested in. For example, searching #blogtips and #sales brings up Tweets focused on upping bloggers sales.

twitter 2

Visual Marketing on Twitter

Don’t forget about the visual elements of your Twitter page. Not only do you have a gallery you can fill with eye-catching, relevant imagery (images you Tweet go into your gallery) but you can also customize your background on your main page with your logo, tagline and branding.

Live Video with Periscope and Blab.im

Do you like putting a human face on your business? Video apps allow you to stream live video to your Twitter followers. Periscope lets you broadcast live video from your phone on Twitter–you can broadcast to the public or a select group of followers. You can show people exclusive content by broadcasting product launches, contests, tutorials, live Q & A’s…anything you can dream up that’s relevant to your customer base.

Blab.im allows you to stream live conversations with up to four different people–you can host a focused talk with experts in your fields, have employees give feedback to common customers FAQ’s, or even invite your customers to come into the broadcast themselves and ask you questions.

If your business has reached the point where you’re considering outsourcing your social marketing, ask us about Virtually Here’s time and money saving Social Concierge service. And if you’ve decided to jump into the Twitter stream to connect with your customers, give us a shout over @VirtuallyHereMA.

Member Spotlight – Christine Williams

Posted by on Jun 7, 2016 in Member of the Month | 0 comments

Member Spotlight – Christine Williams

This month’s member in the spotlight is Christine Williams of Dragonfly Business Services.

Christine started her virtual assistant business, because she was laid off from a job she hated going to. According to Christine, “The layoff was a blessing in disguise.” I think some of us can relate to her feelings. Her specialty is being an Administrative Assistant. Christine says, “I’m an administrative assistant. I like doing the tasks that not many people like to do. I’ve found a lot of small business owners are wasting a lot of time on social media, newsletters, and website changes that they shouldn’t be doing. That’s the kind of work that needs to be outsourced. A business owner should be focusing on the reason they started their business and leave the administrative work to me.”

When asked about how her background fits into her virtual business, Christine, with her great sense of humor says, “I worked in the legal field forever, or so it felt like it. I remember in grammar school thinking how cool it was to be a secretary — on LA Law.  I worked as a Legal Assistant (once called a Legal Secretary) for over 20 years. I’ve learned a lot about the different types of law and the court system and how it runs.  I also learned a lot about real estate, which I really enjoyed.

Dragonfly-logo 1

What makes Christine and Dragonfly Business Services stand out from the rest? Christine specializes in helping real estate agents and attorneys.  However, she also has helped a lot of different small businesses including business coaches, dog trainers, and other Virtual Assistants. She enjoys what she does and the biggest satisfaction is being able to help a small business owner, who is overwhelmed, and see their business take off, once those tasks are off of their shoulders.

The advice Christine would give to anyone starting a virtual business is,I would strongly suggest finding a mentor. I never in a million years thought that I would one day run my own business and be able to work from a home office, so that I had the flexibility I needed for my family.  When I first started, I had a great mentor, who helped me through the ups and downs of starting a business and has been there for me, when I need her. I also joined NEVA, which was a great decision. I have made friends with a lot of the members. I think it’s also important to know there are others out there and you’re not alone!”

Dragonfly Business Services
Bridgewater, MA

Phone: (508) 353-2204
Fax:      (508) 408-8867

E-Mail: cwilliams@dragonflybusinessma.com

 

 

 

 

Meet the Officers!

Posted by on May 27, 2016 in Blog Posts, Events, Luncheons | 0 comments

Meet the Officers!

All of NEVA’s Officers were at the recent Luncheon in New Hampshire…a great event!

(stay tuned for details about our next meet-up–a picnic in July! You don’t want to miss the fun!)

 

New England Virtual Assistants Officers

(l-r) Anne Bole, Secretary; Monica Bentley, President; Jeannette Tibbetts, VP Communications; Shannon Vanasse, Treasurer; Christine Williams, VP Marketing

Not So Common Luncheon

Posted by on May 27, 2016 in Blog Posts, Events, Luncheons | 0 comments

Not So Common Luncheon

Great conversation! Great meals! Great speaker!

group at table
May’s NEVA Luncheon was at the Common Man in Merrimack, NH.

Charlene DeCesare (Charlene Ignites!) talked about the issues of motivation and success. After asking all attendees to describe a current challenge, Charlene offered suggestions about how to stay motivated, build our businesses and find the power from within to achieve success!

Luncheon & Speaker

(l-r) Anne Bole, Charlene DeCesare, Monica Bentley, Shannon Vanesse, Jackie de Boer, Lisa Nourse, Christine Williams, Jeannette Tibbetts

 

 

 

 

 

group up

NEVA Members who attended were:

Anne Bole of What’s Your Priority VA & NEVA Secretary

Monica Bentley of Simple Wizardry & NEVA President

Shannon Vanasse of Indispensable Online & NEVA Treasurer

Jackie de Boer of Accredited Virtual Assistance & NEVA Linkedin & Google+ Expert

Lisa Nourse of LMN Virtual Assistance

Christine Williams of Dragonfly Business Services & NEVA VP of Marketing

Jeannette Tibbetts of JTypePlus & NEVA VP of Communications

 

Our next meet-up is in July–A PICNIC! Stay tuned for deets…for deets…deets…

Monetizing Social Media 101: Your Business on Facebook

Posted by on May 17, 2016 in Member Posts | 0 comments

Monetizing Social Media 101: Your Business on Facebook

By Jacqueline Davis, NEVA Member and owner of VirtuallyHere.net

Monetizing social media is a big question mark for businesses. Will it work? Yes, if you go in with a solid plan. In this new blog series we’ll be offering a preview of what the major social networks can contribute to your bottom line. Social media itself is free, but advertising—and more importantly, the time and research needed to plan, create and actively monitor your business’ social platforms is going to cost you something. At the end of this series, you’ll be able to identify the social platforms that are best suited to be used with your business.

Today, we’re looking at Facebook and its 1.038 billion active daily users, making it the premier platform to connect with potential customers and showcase your business. And unlike you and your employees, Facebook never sleeps, functioning as a 24/7 customer service portal. Customers can leave you a positive review or the next days headache at 3am in the morning.

Monetizing social platforms can be tricky. Facebook continually updates and modifies the algorithms that determine how frequently your business’ posts shows up in your follower’s newsfeeds. If you’re personally handling your Facebook page, you’ll want to devote some time to staying abreast of their updates. On the positive side, keep in mind that who likes your page is considerably more important than how many likes your posts get.

Know your end goal. There are two things to keep in mind for a successful ROI with Facebook. 1) Your exact target customer and their demographics. 2) The sales funnel destination for your Facebook page followers. The goals with the highest monetizing potential are getting followers to subscribe to your email list, successfully bringing users to your website or selling your product. Facebook isn’t a hard sell platform, but knowing what your money-in-the-bank results need to be for this to be a worthwhile investment of your time will help you steer your social media efforts.

Know how you want to make potential customers feel when they interact with your brand. This is an across the board consideration, because unlike your website, which you can take down and change, once it’s up on Facebook, it’s staying there. If a potential customer is so inclined, they can go back through years of Facebook posts from your business to get a sense of how you do business.

Facebook

Facebook Do’s

Do Use visual mediums. Infographics, pictures and videos (especially video) all pull viewers attention better than plain text posts. Bare minimum, always include a picture with text posts. Post behind the scenes videos or shoot a short FAQ video. And don’t forget that you can share other users content that’s relevant to your industry to spark conversation with your followers.

Do Engage your customers. When someone comments positively or has a question, reply. Say thank you to your followers when you reach a benchmark or hit a business goal. And don’t forget that you can utilize Facebook Messenger to privately answer customer complaints or complicated problems.

Do Inform. Let your customers know what’s going on at your business day to day. Update them on new developments, products or events.

Do Explore using Facebook Ads. Facebook is developing more and more options that increase your ability to target advertising to a specific customer. With Facebook’s Flex Targeting, you can tailor the audience for an ad to a highly specific, niche audience, with multiple qualifications for who sees your ad. You can also exclude viewers by citing things that would disqualify someone from buying from you, narrowing your audience and stretching your advertising dollars even further.

Facebook Don’ts

Don’t Be afraid of posting too much. Some small business owners approach Facebook with a fear of offending their followers by posting too frequently and being viewed as spam. This might be a concern if you were posting dozens of times a day, constantly pushing your product. Posting once a day is not too much. If you’re comfortable on Facebook and know you have relevant content to share with your followers, several times a day is not too much. If you don’t know your way around Facebook that well yet, work up to posting content three times a week while you get your bearings.

Don’t Be disrespectful. Practice civility; rude or inappropriate content will stick to your business’ online reputation for a long, long time. The casual, relaxed tone of Facebook can easily have you putting your guard down and posting things off the cuff that may not go over well with some of your readers (or unintentionally insult them). Even if you are a very conscientious person, it’s a good idea to establish some ground rules for what you will and won’t say on your business page. Making some policy decisions at the start of your Facebook use may save your from pitfalls down the line.

Facebook 2

 Got the basics down? Get into Audience Optimization

Audience Optimization helps increase audience engagement by putting your post in front of the people who will be genuinely interested in it. Audience Optimization makes Facebook purposefully show your post to a certain amount of followers who are interesting in the areas you specified, instead of that same amount of views being scattered randomly among users who may or may not be interested in what you’re posting about. Like Flex Targeting, Audience Optimization allows you to limit who will see your post in their newsfeed, helpful if you are posting about a divisive or controversial subject matter.

Facebook Live

Facebook has been rolling out their live video feature over the last year. (Right now it’s available to iOS users.) You can post a live video to your page and actively engage with your followers as they are watching it. This is an amazing tool for small businesses—you can do Q and A’s, behind the scenes, host a class or anything you can dream up to engage your followers.

Want to go deeper? The Social Media Examiner is a goldmine of up-to-the-minute developments in all things social media. You can find out more about creating mobile ad’s onFacebook’s Canvas, get a handle on how their new Reactions can benefit your business and improve your business’ local ranking on Facebook’s Professional Services directory.

Don’t forget that using only one individual method or tactic rarely garuntees social media success—experiment to discover what methods work best for your business. If you are flummoxed by the task of translating your business’ goals into a social media strategy, pick up the phone for a chat with our owner, Jacqui Davis. Jacqui loves helping you get clarity on the best steps forward for your business. And consultation calls are ALWAYS on us!

Want to go all out with your social media marketing? Connect with Virtually Here’s Social Concierge, and put our social marketing experts to work for your business.

And come back next month for the second part of our series, on Twitter.

 

Member Spotlight – Anne Bole

Posted by on May 10, 2016 in Member of the Month | 0 comments

Member Spotlight – Anne Bole

This month’s member in the spotlight is Anne Bole and her virtual business is

What’s Your Priority VA Services, LLC.

 

Anne has over 25 years in the corporate world as a Personal Computer IT professional and 6 years as a campground owner/manager. She loved the campground business, but the economy wasn’t doing well enough to support that kind of business. She looked for a job, but was told she had too much experience! She spoke to a friend over lunch and the friend asked her to make a skills list and then suggested she become a Virtual Assistant. Anne says, “I had never heard of it before (but I do remember saying to friends in the past that I wish I could work from home and utilize my skill set). I scoured the internet and found so much info on Virtual Assisting I was overwhelmed and that was my start.”

Although Anne’s specialization has changed over the past 4 years, she currently specializes in General Administration, Infusionsoft and AWeber, Webinar Creation, Podcasting and Video Creation, Business Systems and Procedures.

Anne’s background goes back several years to when she worked in Information Systems and managed Wang systems for the Corporate Offices that included training and support. Upgrading to Personal Computers on a company-wide basis, her team was responsible for hardware installation, software training and client support. She always loved helping the users find new ways to do their jobs more efficiently.

Anne says, “At the end of my corporate career I became an entrepreneur as a small campground owner/manager in NH for 6 years and computerized the former owners systems to make my job easier. All these experiences helped me form a successful VA business.”

What makes Anne’s business, What Your Priority VA Services, LLC. stand out from the rest? Anne says she is enthusiastic about it and she loves to assist other small business owners to find their passion and spend time doing it. I do many of the items they don’t like or want to do, because it is what I like to do it.

Her advice to anyone, who wants to start a virtual business is “Go for it!” She says, “It is the most rewarding job I have held in my career. I am my own boss; I can pick my clients, set my prices and love the job I do. I have networked with some amazing Virtual Assistants from all over the world including Dubai and Venezuela and I find it is the most collaborative group of people I know. I have found numerous volunteer opportunities with New England Virtual Assistants as Secretary and also volunteer for the International Virtual Assistants Association (IVAA) as Director of Member Resources.

Anne’s advice to every virtual business owner is, “Networking is the key to success. NEVA is a great networking group. I joined as an aspiring member, attended the conference calls and luncheons, and signed up for a weekend workshop in Boston on Building your VA business. I got my first job referral from this workshop and have been working with this client for 4 years. I also belong to a NH networking group called Women Inspiring Women NH. This group has also been invaluable to my business success.

www.whatsyourpriorityvaservices.com

 

Written by Jo Ann Plante

 

A New Way to Networking Online and in Person

Posted by on Apr 19, 2016 in Tech Tools & Events | 0 comments

A New Way to Networking Online and in Person

For many virtual assistants, networking is the lifeline of our businesses, so how can we make this process painless? I stumbled across this site a few months ago and decided to try it. I acquired two new clients and I want to share what it is and how it works. This company is located in Waltham, Massachusetts, so it’s local.

Massachusetts

Align yourself with potential clients.

Alignable.com is one of the best networking tools I’ve come across in a very long time. Here is an excerpt from their website.

We believe Local businesses are stronger together so we built the free social network for local businesses.  It’s the place where you can go to connect and collaborate with other business owners like you who are nearby, in your industry, or members of groups that you belong to.” 

buy-local-bags-show-neighborhood-market-and-business-

Here’s what to expect when you join Alignable:

1) We will start by placing you and your business in the neighborhood where your business resides. Since 80% of local business customers come from nearby, we thought this would be a great place for you to get started.  We will introduce you to the other businesses nearby but you can pro-actively build out your connections on the connect tab.  Go there to send connection requests to those you would like to get to know or invite businesses in your network that are not yet on Alignable.
neighborhood

2) Your home page on Alignable is your Neighborhood page.  This is a scrolling digest of the various conversations and promotions that local businesses nearby are involved in.  When it comes to a question that benefits from local knowledge (how to get a sign approved, find part-time help or an accountant) there is no better source for that information than other business owners nearby. In addition, you will see promotions and events that other local businesses are running to drive traffic.  Sharing what you are up to makes others more aware of what your business has to offer, gives other businesses the opportunity to share it with their customers, and may spark ideas from other businesses on ways that you can work together to create events that showcase multiple businesses and drive more combined traffic.  
businessman-search-in-business-strategy-on-the-ladder-

3) At the top of the neighborhood page, you will find a post control block where you can start a discussion, post what you are doing to promote your business, and the ability to send an urgent alert to the neighborhood.  The Neighborhood Alert is a great way to inform your fellow business owners about thefts, shoplifting activities, emergencies and other time sensitive information.  If you see a conversation going on in the neighborhood that you have an opinion on, can add value to, or just want to reiterate what someone else has said, just click on the comment section and add your perspective.  The more you share the stronger you all become.

Joining is free, getting started is easy, and being a part of your local business community is priceless.”

Check out this fast, easy way to network with local businesses. I used it and now have many connections within my area. After you try it, leave a comment in the comment section and let us know how it works.

 

Member Spotlight – Jacqueline “Jacqui” Davis

Posted by on Apr 12, 2016 in Member of the Month | 0 comments

Member Spotlight – Jacqueline “Jacqui” Davis

This month’s member in the spotlight is Jacqueline “Jacqui” Davis, owner and Chief Problem Solver at Virtually Here, LLC.

Before starting her own virtual business, Jacqui used to be a special education teacher. She  injured her back in 2009 restraining a student. She had to have back surgery and had to take time off from teaching to heal. Her mom told her about a Chronical segment on TaskRabbit. TaskRabbit is an online and mobile marketplace that allows users to outsource small jobs and tasks to others in their nearby areas.

Since she did not want to just sit on the couch and watch TV, she decided to apply as a “rabbit” (the person who performs tasks). She started doing virtual tasks for people on the platform. Two of these people were female entrepreneurs from California that teamed up together and convinced her to start her own Virtual Assistant company, so in 2010 she started Virtually Here.

When talking about her niche, she says, “ Virtually Here is a very different model than most Virtual Assistants. When I began in 2010, it was just me doing virtual admissive type tasks. Quickly I was finding that my clients needed more support in categories like marketing, social media, web design and more. So in 2012, I change my business model to be a virtual assistant firm. Essentially, your one-stop virtual shop for all your business support needs. I now have a team of people who can provide all back-end services to entrepreneurs and small business.”

She’s performed a variety of jobs, but, she says, all of them had one thing in common – customer service and problem-solving. She knew these skills well and growing up in the world of technology, she knew she would be successful.

What makes Jacqui unique and her business stand out from the rest? Her first response is FAMILY! Growing up with a sister with Down syndrome, and then later serving as primary caretaker for her mother, she has seen firsthand what happens when a group of people unite under a common goal.

Jacqui says, “just as a family becomes stronger when they work together, a business becomes stronger when people with individual skills work together. After working for 12 years in hospital administration, I started Virtually Here to provide a one-stop virtual shop for administrative and business support needs.” Nearly six years later, she’s expanded her role from virtual administrative assistant to prolific networker … making it her mission to cultivate a Rolodex of experienced, highly talented creative partners ready to collaborate with her clients.

What advice does Jacqui have for anyone starting a virtual assistant business? “First and foremost, before you start the business, have clients and support from family and friends. I would also suggest talking to other virtual assistants about their experiences. I found those two things to be the biggest help when starting out and even now six years later.”

Jacquie adds “ Virtually Here is proud to belong to a number of prestigious organizations, including The International Virtual Assistants Associations (IVAA), New England Virtual Assistants (NEVA), and the Woman’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC).  Even with this professional success, I’m still focused on family first. Most weekends you’ll find me with the people (and pets) I love, singing in an adult rock chorus, and attending plays, musicals, and concerts. After all, what good is professional success if you don’t have family to share it with?”

I’d love to welcome you into the Virtually Here family. Book your free one-hour consultation today!

Virtually Here

Virtually Here, LLC

Office: 978-600-8218

Cell: 857-544-1355

www.VirtuallyHere.net

 

Written by Jo Ann Plante