When you’re working as a virtual assistant (VA), there’s very little time to waste unless you want to put in 18 hour days. Setting up systems, short cuts and built-in efficiency can help you trim the time it takes to complete your work load. It can also pare down the time you need to spend in looking for new clients and starting to work with them.
There are a few suggestions as to structures and systems that will help your business run more smoothly.
Create a separate email box for all your VA work — You will only have one box to monitor each day in reference to getting jobs and dealing with clients. If you can’t create a custom email address for your website, you can get a business one from Gmail for $5 per month.
Create a new email folder for every workplace and every client you have — As soon as you start registering at freelance marketplaces like Upwork, you will start getting emails with housekeeping details such as username and password, and so on.
File any emails you need to keep in their own respective folders — When you get a new client, create a folder for them and file ALL of their emails there. If there are any disputes about the work being done correctly or any confusion, you have a record of everything that was discussed. Tip: If you speak to your client on Skype or Phone be sure to record the calls so that you can refer to them if needed.
Create a My Business folder on your desktop — Organize your business material into folders within this main Business folder. Create sub-folders as needed, such as Letters, Invoices, About Us and so on. Everything should also be backed up with a cloud-based file storage system like Dropbox.
Template everything you can — Templates for letterhead, invoices and so on mean you set up the work once and don’t have to start all over again every time. Store your templates in folders in your Business folder as needed.
Create a new folder for every client in your client’s folder –Every time you get a new client, create a folder for them and store everything relevant to that client in that folder, for ease of reference.
Create checklists for each important task — A checklist will ensure you don’t miss out on any crucial steps. You may think you don’t need it, but even an experienced pilot uses a checklist. You should too.
Create customer service systems — Decide how you want clients to deal with you in relation to customer service. Should they just shoot you an email, or will you use a service like ZenDesk to ticket all interactions. There’s no one right answer. Choose the system that works best for you.
Pre-write customer service emails — Think of the typical things that people will ask about in relation to customer service. Draft replies. Then copy and paste and adjust as need based on the actual text of the message from them. Save the drafts in a customer service folder within your business folder.
Set a daily, weekly and monthly calendar — Certain tasks will be daily, such as social media marketing for your business, checking job listings at the freelance marketplaces, and answering emails a couple of times a day. Block off these times on your calendar. Some tasks might be weekly, such as updating your blog for the coming week. Some will be monthly, such as invoicing clients and doing your bookkeeping. Block out time on your calendar for all important tasks you need to do regularly so nothing gets lost or falls through the cracks.
Keep a to-do list for each client and any deadlines or special dates — Some clients will want their work done by a certain date, or regularly by the end of the day of a certain week or month. Put those dates into your calendar. You can also organize your ‘to do’ work in files that are dated by due date first then they’ll self organize in your folders.
Check your calendar and to do list first thing every morning and last thing every night — You will be less likely to miss anything and can also plan out your day, and the following one by having everything entered into your calendar. You can make even more structured by putting the time you’ll work on things instead of just having a daily list. The more structured you are, the more freedom you’ll feel.
System and structure are important for any small business, but they are especially important if you are trying to work as a virtual assistant (VA). If you’re the type of person who struggles with organization, time management and establishing routines and sticking to them, set up your business using systems and structures for each skill and service you offer.