After a welcome break for lunch, where we even managed to catch a few rays of sunshine, it was back to the barn for more learning. Our next speaker was Annabel Kaye, Managing Director of KoffeeKlach, here to talk to us about How to Create More Profitable Relationships. Annabel is well known in the VA world. She is an employment lawyer who really knows her stuff, who has gone to great lengths to understand how virtual assistants work, and who has created some excellent resources for us, including contracts, terms and policies designed specifically with VAs in mind and more recently a whole plethora of advice and information to work through in preparation for GDPR.
A highly entertaining, no-nonsense speaker, Annabel asked us about our crisis plans, reminding us that we must plan for the unexpected. Our clients rely on us and we need to be able to provide continuity of cover. At the very least we should have a set up in place whereby we have someone who is able to contact our clients in the event of an unplanned for event, such as illness.
In terms of becoming more profitable, there are several strands that we can look at:
Incorporating a fix fee into our structures, not least because this shows an element of risking profit and loss, which is something HMRC looks for to prove self-employment;
Working with associates, which allows us to broaden the services we can offer to our clients (they can also be incorporated into the crisis plan);
Working on an affiliation basis with other companies, and making referrals – having multiple income streams makes our businesses more profitable and less risky in terms of income.
Finally, remember that all business relationships come to an end eventually. Plan for this!
Our second speaker was Francesca Geens, Founder of Digital Dragonfly. Francesca’s presentation was entitled Why Work-Life Balance is Broken and How to Fix It. As Francesca rightly said, technology means that work is creeping into everything that we do and the lines between work and life are becoming ever more blurred. There is too much information, too much choice, too many emails and too much distraction. In order to be able to manage this, we need to relearn how to work uninterrupted. Francesca provided us with a fantastic list of 31 'pick & mix' hints and tips aimed at simplifying our day-to day lives and increasing productivity!
I cannot repeat all 31 tips here, but will share with you what, for me, were the top three:
Unsubscribe! Unsubscribe! Unsubscribe!
Leave your phone in another room while working.
Do an app detox (i.e. what is the minimum number of tools you can work with?)
I spent several hours after the conference unsubscribing from all the emails that I don’t need to be receiving. I was ruthless (and I might go back and resubscribe to some of them), but I have reduced my daily number of emails from between 120 and 150 to around 50, and it feels fantastic!
Next up was Rebecca Robertson IFA, Founder of Evolution for Women, talking about how If Cash is King we need to be Queen of it. Having left school with an F grade in Maths, Rebecca studied hard and went on to work in the financial industry for over 16 years before setting up Evolution for Women, which comprises a team of female financial advisers whose passionate belief is that everyone deserves to have access to financial advice, regardless of their financial status. She wants women to feel empowered and able to make great financial decisions.
To be honest, Rebecca’s talk was a bit scary. I thought I was fairly knowledgeable and switched on about my finances, but she really made me think. In particular, she talked about doing a money detox, reducing spending, reinvesting in ourselves and our businesses and creating money pots that create more income. We need to create more income because we need to not only live today, but to have adequate protection, a pension plan, savings and start thinking about investments.
The last presentation of the day - Discover the Treasure in Your Brand - came from the sparkly, lively duo that is Hela Wozniak-Kay & Annie Brooks, Co-Founders of Sister Snog. Hela and Annie are passionate about branding and they impressed upon us the importance of our own brands. As they say, ‘If your clients love you, they will talk about you.’ So – what is your mission? Why are you here? What makes you stand out? Where are your cheerleaders; your supporters? It is important to know these things, and to be able to articulate them clearly and consistently to others, whether in person, on our websites, through our social media or even via client recommendations and testimonials.
Finally, we were joined for the VA Panel Discussion - How to EleVAte Your Business – by Charlotte Wibberley, Kathy Soulsby, Founder of Personally Virtual and Clare Clarke, Founder of CC Professional. This was an opportunity for attendees to ask those burning questions that we had for the experts – those that have been working successfully in the VA industry for several years. As might be expected, they all had different answers to the questions, but for me what really shone through was their passion, dedication and commitment not just to their clients, but to their own businesses. After all, if we don’t take care of our own business, how can we possibly be expected to take care of somebody else’s?
When booking the conference, we were promised that we would walk away with:
New ideas and concrete actions that could be easily and immediately implemented in our businesses
More connections at a deeper level and a network of cheerleaders and supporters to help us on our way to success
Fresh ideas and strategies to help us begin taking the crucial steps towards our business success
Inspiration on how to create an authentic brand to truly sets us apart from the crowd
I can honestly say I came away with all of the above – and so much more! Inspiration, confidence and a real belief in me as a business person and in RED Virtual Solutions as a business.
A huge thank you to Charlotte and Claire for all of their hard work in putting the day together and making it happen, to all of the speakers, sponsors and contributors for their part in it, and most of all to my fellow VAs. This is a fantastic community and I am very happy to be a part of it!