Let me lay some ground work
It’s no secret these days that the “Virtual” world has become ever increasingly important and it doesn’t appear that it will slow down any time soon.
I can remember when I got my very first account with AOL and had the World Wide Web in our home. I was totally overwhelmed – and I was pretty computer savvy even back in the early 80’s!
Next - Social Media came on the scene about 10 years ago and it was just that - “social”. After people figured out how to use it, you would see post like “I walked my dog” and then ten minutes later “I’m at the grocery store” and then 15 minutes later “I am cooking dinner and just put in a load of laundry”…all from the same person. Seriously?
Now social media has a NEW meaning – especially to the business person.
Today I look at Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. - differently than I did a year and a half ago, I look at it through my business eyes. It is a way to network, market your business, be in a community of like-minded people, find resources, get questions answered, refer and meet potential clients, all from the comfort of your home, office
or smart phone. BUT….it can all be, not only overwhelming, but extremely time consuming, yet vital to the success and growth of your private practice! And not just social media. Then you need to have and maintain your website, email list, newsletter, and the list goes on. Let’s not forget one of the most important parts – and sometimes biggest challenges – nobody trained you to do all of these business things.
Your student loans were for getting your degree in psychology! Most clinicians didn’t have classes in business, marketing, web development and so on, yet in order for your practice to thrive and grow, it’s expected of you. I have talked with hundreds of clinicians and their stories are similar to others. I don’t know how, or I don’t have time, I don’t like to do this…and so it goes.
Therefore, the need and increase of hiring VA’s or OBM’s is growing! BUT…you may be wondering “what do they do, or what can I offload to them? Can I afford one?
Keep reading as I am about to answer those questions and give you some tips that I hope will help you in your journey of searching and finding that perfect fit for your practice!
So what is a Virtual Assistant or Online Business Manager?
TIP #1: - They are business owners who work from home and often specialize in certain areas.
When “working at home” first came on the scene it was more like stay at home mom’s wanting or needing to make extra income for their family. (I am NOT knocking the WAHM…many VA businesses are ran by them and they are awesome!) They are experienced, skilled and very business minded VA/OBM’s and they will help you to move forward in your business!
It is a serious growing industry servicing small businesses all the way up to the BIG DOGS, because owners are beginning to see the cost effective value in hiring VA’s vs. hiring an “employee”. (Extra Tip: keep in mind they are NOT employees)
Everyone has different needs and each business or private practice is different, so what may appeal to one, is completely different from another. And that is the beauty of hiring virtual services. You can find the one or several that fits YOU!
Ok! But what can I outsource?
TIP #2: - Almost any “business tasks” that is critical to your practice.
Tasks from managing phones and scheduling clients, email management, newsletters, Social Media management, marketing, website design and maintenance - to training, coaching, promoting, bookkeeping, event planning, online research, writing/blogging, and more can be outsourced to a VA/OBM.
Here is a great very long detailed list of ways to use a VA/OBM by Nina Feldman - http://www.ninafeldman.com/resources/101-ways-to-use-a-virtual-assistant
Why would I want to do that?
“Spend money, let go of control..and so on?”
1. More time to do what you do best!
2. You were called to be a therapist! You spent 4, or more, years going to school and collecting student loans to study psychology and become a clinician.
3. You are doing it ALL on your own. You might think that this is the way it has to be, so you struggle with technology, learning programs, figuring out how to market yourself, answer phones and email, schedule intakes, do paper work, jump on social media, and the list goes on!
4. Doing what you do best can take a back seat to all of the “tasks” it takes to run a private practice, and that is NOT what you were called to do.
5. Gives you more time to spend with family and friends.
What else do I need to know about using services from VA/OBM’s?
TIP#4: - DO YOUR HOMEWORK!
I have clients that hire me and say in the past they “tried using a VA/OBM” and had a terrible experience for one reason or another! So…
1. MAKE a list of what you would like to outsource before contacting someone.
2. DETERMINE what kind of budget you have for using these services.
3. ASK! – When looking for that perfect fit, ask around for some referrals. Usually the best of the pick will come from this source. Check out their website and see what others are saying about them.
4. KNOW that you aren’t (or shouldn’t be) locked in to any long term relationship. Ask if you can do a trail period (yes this will be paid) to make sure this is the best fit for you and your practice.
5. READ – once you have decided on someone, it is critical to read the contract and make sure you know and understand policy. If you have questions, ask.
6. INVEST – it is business – your business - and you want and need the best quality work. You get what you pay for! This old saying is true. Remember just as in your profession, you are experienced and skilled, degreed and licensed (or at least working on it) and you need what they have to offer.
7. RELATIONSHIP – there’s not much need for me to elaborate here because you already know how important it is, but I make it a point with each and every one of my clients to let them know that I truly care about them, their business and success.
8. ROI – to get the best return on investment, make sure you are doing YOUR part so they can do theirs to give you the best services possible!
I have really just touched the surface of these 4 tips, but I would be happy to set up a consultation to discuss in more detail about hiring a Virtual Assistant or Online Business Manager. Perhaps Kelly and Miranda might have a spot in the next few months to come back and continue discussing VA/OBM’s! J
I would love your ideas, comments, questions or what specific area you might want to hear more about!
Frances J. Harvey – owner of My Solution Services – Virtual Assistance and Online Business Management (VA/OBM), as well as a Professional Certified Coach. If you are considering hiring someone, I hope this will help. I am more than happy to talk with you and give some more insight and pointers on moving in this direction.