Happy (Stressless) Holidays!
Yes, it’s that time again. A new year is just around the corner. While you most likely manage your business like a pro, it’s true that both professional and personal tasks may fall by the wayside when you’re busy building and tending to your business. It doesn’t have to be that way. A good Assistant isn’t just a task-master; (s)he’s your partner in business. Here are a few items you may not have thought to have your Assistant handle for you as the year closes, or ideas you can use to manage your own time better.
- Plan your marketing for the year ahead – now! Sure, you could start thinking about it after the new year begins, but why? The end of the year is the perfect time to consider what you did or didn’t do last year and prepare to do better in the new year. Will you target a new industry or region? Do you know March is your slow time and you’d like to fill it with engagements? Will you spend less marketing in one area and more in another? Think about that.
- Use Business Contact Manager for Outlook – I’m often surprised so few know about this useful add-in. Now I admit there are some more powerful applications out there for prospect, project and contact management, but if you’ve already purchased Outlook and aren’t ready to invest in a separate business contact manager, it’s worth looking into. I use it to manage long-term client projects (as well as my own) and break down the tasks involved. I couldn’t do that as well with Outlook alone.
Any good Assistant wants to lighten your load and assist you in making the most of your time and using it more efficiently. Not sure where to start? For the following week, take note of where you’re spending time that stresses you or isn’t directly tied to generating revenue, both personally and professionally. How might you otherwise spend those extra hours?
- Plan communications for the next few months – If you’ll be busy traveling or vacationing in December and January, schedule communications now to be dispersed over the next several weeks. Communications like this should be “evergreen”, meaning they are reusable and not tied to dates. Need to know more? Just ask!
- Tighten up your website – Have you made some major changes in services or products this year and just haven’t gotten around to a website facelift? Prepare now for your revised online presence.
- Think small – Is your business worthy of some press? Why not visit a local newspaper and ask for some? I know for a fact this works – a gentleman by the name of Marc Johnson and I met on LinkedIn a couple years ago and worked on a project that I started and got us front page coverage in the Gloucester County Times July 31, 2010. No, he had no connections and neither did I. But we had a timely topic and the nerve to ask, so he drove by, walked in and was welcomed. This approach won’t work for the New York Times but you can use any positive coverage in your growing portfolio and to possibly solicit further coverage at a later date. Smaller newspapers and publications are often looking for good, timely filler stories. Libraries and local schools might also benefit from your message and sharing it with locals is also a great way to build a fan base. Might I research some smaller media opportunities for you? Remember, Oprah wasn’t OPRAH overnight.
- Schedule autoresponders for the next 12 months – Sound like a lot of work? Well, it is to some degree but you know those newsletters that you subscribe to? Many of them are autoresponders sent out in sequence – a set-it-and-forget-it type of system. Have separate ones for clients and prospects to keep them informed and engaged. Any business can benefit and I can show you how.
- Archive emails and clean up contacts – I just did this recently for a client who had 800+ contacts in Outlook. When I exported and inspected them, it turned out almost 1/3 of them were duplicates which we merged and about a third of those left were old and unnecessary. We pulled those into a PST file offline and now she’s not syncing information she doesn’t need at her fingertips daily.
- Make travel arrangements – Are you planning a getaway? Have free time on your calendar but need to know the best deals being offered? I can help with that!
- Arrange lodging for family and friends – Will you have family, friends or even clients visiting? Don’t waste billable hours arranging lodging and finding the best rates. Delegate those tasks to your Assistant and forget about it.
- Prepare a press release – Don’t take this lightly and don’t abuse the power of a press release. It’s not enough to just blurt out how great your business is. Press releases are not intended to be a form of advertisement – but tying into current events, trends or recent studies just might get you media attention. If you’re a videographer, for instance, and a study was just released stating that video increases sales conversions by xx percent that’s an angle you can use that’s both timely and significant.
- Buy stamps – You’ll have a lot of cards to send out year end, both personal and professional. Make sure you have enough stamps on hand. Your Assistant can purchase them for you and have them delivered to your home or office and the USPS only charges $1 for delivery.
- Order shipping supplies – You do know that the United States Postal Service will deliver shipping supplies to your door, right? It’s true!
- Prepare year-end newsletters/communications – Why not let your clientele know what’s coming in the new year? Or just thank them for their support last year. Client retention is just as important as marketing to new prospects.
The bottom line is not everything has to be handled by you alone. Any good Assistant wants to lighten your load and assist you in making the most of your time and using it more efficiently. Not sure where to start? For the following week, take note of where you’re spending time that stresses you or isn’t directly tied to generating revenue, both personally and professionally. How might you otherwise spend those extra hours? Time is money – spend wisely.
Did I miss something? Enlighten me. Have a question? Ask me.