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Virtual Events: What type of Virtual Event is Best for My Small Business?

In What is a Virtual Event? we looked at the definition of “Virtual Event” and different examples of virtual events including: webinars, virtual conferences, teleconferences, teleseminars, podcasts, virtual meetings and streaming video. In this post, I’d like to show you how four entrepreneurs: a life coach, business consultant, author and speaker, use different virtual event platforms in their small businesses.

Webinars for Coaches

Clara is a Life Coach, when she started her practice the majority of her coaching consisted of one-on-one meetings with her clients at their homes, or her office. While she enjoys working with clients in this intimate manner, the fee she must charge for her services made life coaching out of reach for many individuals. By developing a small group life coaching webinar program, she is able to offer a more affordable option and reach a much broader audience. Small group coaching webinars are particularly effective for business, marketing, life, wellness and relationship coaches who work with clients around the country, or even around the world.

Virtual Meetings for Consultants

Scott is a Business Consultant, he works in his home based office here in Massachusetts. Many of his clients are not based locally, some are not even located in the United States. But by engaging the power of a virtual meeting service such as Skype, a webcam and microphone, Scott can ‘visit’ with clients as if they’re sitting at the local coffee shop. Scott has found virtual meetings to be a great way to ‘meet’ with prospective clients online, this goes a long way to building a relationship. By using a virtual meeting tool he gives others an opportunity to get to know, like and trust him, the key to developing a successful business relationship.

Hosting Virtual Events

Teleseminars for Authors

Tamara is a writer and published author, her books are on the subject of marketing for start-up companies. In addition to her latest published book, she’s launching an accompanying online workshop. Tamara uses teleseminars for interviews about her latest book, she discusses key points and answers any questions for those on the call. She has the opportunity to introduce her online workshops and gathers email addresses from those who registered for the teleseminar. Tamara teleseminars are recorded and turned into podcasts, another way to reach her audience.

Video Streaming for Speakers

Steve is building his business as a Motivational Speaker. To secure future speaking opportunities, Steve arranges for all his presentations to be recorded, edited and later streamed to anyone interested in hiring him to speak at an upcoming event. These videos showcase Steve’s speaking ability, stage presence and audience connection. Steve adds video testimonials from audience members and creates a nice video package for potential clients to view. Video streaming presents a great opportunity for speakers, authors, coaches, trainers or really anyone who needs to present as part of their business.

Entrepreneurs, solopreneurs and small business owners, has this given you some ideas of how you can incorporate virtual events into your business? I’d love to hear how you might use virtual events in your particular niche, please share your thoughts in the comments.

If you have an interest in hosting your own virtual event, but don’t know where to start, I’d love to chat with you. We can take a look at your business and determine which type of virtual event would be best suited to you and your business.

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What is a Virtual Event?

Webinars, virtual conferences, teleconferences, teleseminars, podcasts, virtual meetings and streaming video are all forms of virtual events that have gained in popularity over recent years. I’d hazard a guess you’ve attended at least 1 virtual event in the last 18 months. While we hear a lot about large scale, big business virtual events, there are many cost effective virtual event services available for the small business owner and entrepreneur looking to host their own virtual event for small groups, or to an audience of 100 people or less.

Virtual event definition

Virtual Event Definition:

A virtual event is a gathering of people sharing a common virtual environment on the web, rather than meeting in a physical location. Virtual events are highly interactive, looking and feeling a lot like their physical counterparts.
~ Wikipedia.org

Virtual Events – Good Options for Entrepreneurs and Small Businesses?

Virtual events give entrepreneurs and small businesses the opportunity to promote, market, share information, educate and train a number of participants at one time. By training one to many, instead of one on one the trainer, coach, consultant, writer or speaker make the most efficient use of their time. Both the host and attendees save the time, expense and general inconveniences of traveling to a live seminar.

What are the Different Types of Virtual Events?

Webinar

The word “webinar” is derived from the word “seminar,” a webinar is essentially a web based seminar. Instead of leaving their homes, or place of business to attend a seminar, attendees can simply login to the webinar on their computer, or mobile device and enjoy an audio and visual presentation.

Teleseminar

Teleseminars, also referred to as “teleconferences,” are accessed via phone, by entering a specific phone number and digital password. In addition to accessing the teleseminar via landline or mobile device, some teleseminar services provide online access.

Podcast

The word “podcast” is derived from a combination of the words “broadcast” and “podcast”. A podcast is an audio, or video file, originally formatted to be played on an iPod. Some podcasts are similar to TV or radio shows, free and paid podcasts are downloadable from the internet.

Virtual Meeting

Virtual meetings are useful for entrepreneurs and small business owners who would like to engage clients outside their geographical location. By using a service such as Skype together with a desktop computer, laptop or mobile device with webcam, an entrepreneur can “meet” with their prospective client over the internet.

Live Streaming and Streaming Video

Streaming video and/or audio are transmitted across the internet for audience members to enjoy on their computer or mobile device, as a continuous stream of data; there is no need to download and save a file to listen and view. Live streaming is played in real time, hosts have the option of prerecording video and delivering it as live streaming video. Google’s Hangouts on Air is an example of live streaming video.

I hope this information is useful to you, in Part 2 I’ll be talking about how entrepreneurs and small businesses can host their own virtual event. I’ll use the example of a life coach, business consultant, author and speaker to show the business growth potential of hosting a virtual event. In the meantime, I’d love to hear about your experiences with virtual events as either a host, or an attendee. How does a virtual event compare to a live event in your experience?

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When I left the corporate world in 2005 to enter the world of self employment, I was excited and a touch nervous to launch Accredited Virtual Assistance (AVA) from the guest bedroom of our Chicago area home. At that time, technology and communication advancements turned the concept of being a home-based entrepreneur into a workable reality for many.

Fast forward 8 years, with relocation to the Boston area for my husband’s job, and I find myself setting up that home-based business office once again. I’d love to share with you some thoughts, ideas and tips on how to create an efficient and effective home office. Whether you’re a home-based entrepreneur, small business owner, or company employee who works part of the week out of your home, I hope you’ll find a tip or two to help you work from home.

Tip #1 Location

Before you decide on the location for your office, take an inventory of what equipment, supplies, products etc. you’ll need to have available. How much space will you need? If your business requires you to keep a supply of materials on hand, would the best storage place be your home office, or would a garage or basement work.

Once you determine the physical space requirements for the home office, take a look at what you’ll actually be doing, and what hours you’ll be working in this space. For example, if you require a quiet space to make phone calls to customers and clients when other household members are at home, you’ll need an office with a door, so you can shut out any noise or distractions.

On the other hand, if you require very limited space, perhaps just a computer and some office supplies, a computer armoire, in a little used formal dining room, might be the answer. Before setting up your home office, it’s a good idea to ask your spouse, or significant other for their input, after all you’ll be taking away some of their residential real estate. You want your office space to be harmonious not acrimonious, so be sure to get their buy-in before you proceed.

Tip #2 Furniture

If you’re going to be spending any time working on a computer, it’s well worth investing in ergonomically correct furniture, i.e. a desk chair with lumbar support, an ergonomic keyboard, wrist rest and mouse. Consider what lighting is required, are you able to work with natural light from a window, or does your basement office require task lighting.

Tip #3 Communication

While I do love my iPhone, when sitting at my desk, I prefer to make business calls from a landline, that’s just my personal preference. If you prefer to run your business from your mobile phone, just make sure that the reception in your office is good, and that clients/customers can hear your phone conversations clearly. For heavy phone use you may want to consider investing in a wireless headset, which will enable you to move around and stretch periodically; taking regular stretch breaks, away from the computer screen is a good idea.

Home Office - Chicago, Boston Before, Boston After

Tip #4 Technology

For businesses requiring regular internet access, it’s worth investing in a high speed internet connection and up-to-date equipment. You don’t want to be wasting time waiting for downloads, or for documents to print. Do make sure you have an offsite backup system in place for all your computer files; if a fire, flood or other disaster struck, you want to be able to access those files, not lose everything. Many home insurance policies will add coverage for office equipment, check with your agent to see if you have that option available.

Tip #5 Organization

To work as efficiently and effectively as possible your office space needs to be organized with everything in its’ place. You need to be able to access items easily and quickly, without spending valuable time searching through piles of papers, causing frustration and negatively impacting your productivity. Take the time to create an effective filing system, whether that’s labeled file folders stored in a filing cabinet, or online folders for your e-documents, or a combination of both.

Tip #6 Schedule Your Office Hours

You’ll find yourself being more productive and achieving greater work-life balance, if you schedule your home office hours. Keep in mind the schedules of your household, 10:00am on a quiet weekday morning might be the perfect time to host a webinar, but 2:30pm that same afternoon, when your kids come home from school, might not be so good.

Tip #7 Personalize it

Take advantage of that perk you didn’t get in the corporate world and completely personalize your office, from wall color to an assistant chair/bed for your pet dog or cat. Get creative with your office accessories, use a china mug as a pen holder, an antique curio for your paperclips, add a shelf for family photos. Make your new home office comfortable and make it your own.

I would love to hear what home based entrepreneurs and business owners have done to make their office space efficient, effective and most importantly, their own. Won’t you please share with me in the comments below.

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7 Benefits of Working with a Virtual Assistant (VA)?

  1. Flexibility

    Whether you have an established business, or you’re a start-up entrepreneur, you are sure to experience some peaks and lows in workload throughout the year. For example, a Real Estate Agent is likely to be very busy with selling and listing during the spring, and into the summer months, while winter months may not see so much activity. A VA has the flexibility to be there for you, as and when needed. Some Virtual Assistants offer clients the option of an hourly pay-as-you-go plan, with no monthly hourly minimum; this is a great solution for small business owners and entrepreneurs with varying workloads.

  2. More Time

    By working with a VA, small business owners and entrepreneurs free up some time. Clients might use this time to grow and develop their business, to spend more time with family and friends, or to enjoy greater work/life balance. Before you start working with a VA, be sure to have a plan of what and how you are going to take advantage of those extra hours in your day.

  3. No Office Space

    When working with a VA you’ll enjoy the cost saving benefit of not paying for additional office space for an assistant. If you work from your home office, bringing an assistant into your home may not go over well with family members living in the same home. Most Virtual Assistants work from their home offices, so no expensive office rent for you to pay, or for the home office, no family discontent.

  4. No Equipment Expenses

    If you consider all the equipment required for an in-house assistant such as: computers, software, copiers, phone system etc., not to mention furniture such as: desks, chairs, cabinets etc. the expenses can really add up. With a VA you don’t incur any of these costs. Most Virtual Assistants have a fully equipped, up-to-date home based office.

    Virtual Assistant Office

  5. No Personnel Issues

    A VA is an independent contractor, so there’s no payroll to handle. Additionally a VA is 100% productive, you don’t pay for coffee breaks, water cooler time, sick leave or wasted time, you pay only for the time spent on your task or project. When you consider you may not be keeping a full-time assistant busy 8 hours a day, 5 days a week you could enjoy some cost saving benefits by working with a VA  http://jackiedeboer.com/employee-or-va

  6. Build, Monitor & Manage your Social Networking Platforms

    An effective social media plan takes time and effort; a Social Media Virtual Assistant can help you strategize and plan your social media efforts, build and grow your networks and monitor and manage content as required. At AVA we can create a social media plan best suited to your needs.

  7. Highly Skilled Professional Partner

    A good VA is highly skilled in the services he or she offers, but a great VA will take it a step further and become a true business partner, offering suggestions on how to work together as efficiently and effectively as possible. A great VA will be a sounding board for your business thoughts and ideas and an advocate for your business.

What do you see as the #1 benefit to working with a Virtual Assistant? I would love to hear your thoughts.

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Employee versus Virtual Assistant (VA): How do you Choose?

There comes a time, in every entrepreneur and small business owner’s life, when the realization hits; they can no longer run their business alone. For some, this realization comes prior to business launch, for others it may take months, or even years, before they seek assistance.

At one time, the only solution was to hire an employee. However, with the rapid advancements in technology a viable alternative evolved. That alternative is a virtual assistant (VA).

How do you choose between an employee and a virtual assistant? What are the advantages of working with a virtual assistant rather than hiring an employee? Here are some points to consider when you’re ready to take your business to that next level.

Admin Assistant

Virtual Assistants are Business Owners
Unlike some employees and temporary staff who just show up, virtual assistants own their own business and take the needs of their clients very seriously. A VAs success is dependent on their clients’ success.

Office Space, Furniture and Equipment
Business owners do not incur the cost of office space, furniture and equipment when working with a VA. VAs work remotely, from their fully equipped offices. They keep their equipment up to date with the latest software and virus protection.

Virtual Assistants are 100% Efficient
Several years ago, a workplace survey found employees to be, on average, only 75% productive during the work day. This equates to just 6 hours of productivity for an 8 hour workday. A VA, on the other hand, is 100% efficient and charges only for the time spent on each task.

Payroll Tax, Insurance & Benefits
Virtual assistants are independent contractors. Unlike an employee, when working with a VA, there are no payroll taxes, social security, unemployment insurance payments or benefits; there is no vacation or sick pay to deal with.

Virtual Assistants are Flexible
A virtual assistant is available on an as needed basis. A VA is able to assist with as little as the occasional 1 hour project, to providing a 20+ hour a month service plan. Again, business owners and entrepreneurs pay only for the time spent on their task(s).

Are you still undecided as to whether to hire a full-time employee, or subcontract with a virtual assistant? I’d be happy to set up a complimentary phone consultation, to talk about your business and administrative support solutions. Just click the “Get in Touch” tab above, add you contact information and select a day that works best for you.

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What is a Virtual Assistant (VA)? How do I work with a VA? What are the benefits of working with a VA? Great questions I’m asked on a regular basis at local networking functions or online. Let’s take a look, shall we.

What is a Virtual Assistant?

A Virtual Assistant (typically abbreviated to VA, also called a virtual office assistant) is generally self-employed and provides professional administrative, technical, or creative (social) assistance to clients remotely from a home office.

Wikipedia – en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_assistant 

A VA is a person who supports a client, across the board, administratively and personally without being geographically present in the client’s location.

AssistU – www.assistu.com 

Accredited Virtual Assistance (AVA) provides administrative & executive support services together with social media strategy, setup, training & management for small to medium sized businesses.

 Jackie de Boer

What Does a Virtual Assistant Do?

Virtual Assistants offer a range of services from general administrative tasks to specialized services such as website development, real estate assistant, legal assistant etc. Here at AVA, we offer general administrative office support, with a specialization in social media strategy, setup, training and management. Please see our business solutions for more information relating to Virtual Assistant Support and Social Media Services.

How Do I Work with a Virtual Assistant?

We’re called “Virtual” Assistants because we work remotely, generally in a home based office equipped with the latest technology. Clients communicate with us and transmit projects through the internet, intranet, digital voice files, email, fax, phone, Skype, overnight mail and even, on occasions, the good old US Mail.

Clients may choose to work with us on an hourly basis, per project or through a monthly retainer plan.

What Types of Businesses can a Virtual Assistant Help?

Most VA’s work with solopreneurs, entrepreneurs and small to mid-sized business. Some will specialize in a specific industry such as real estate, law or publishing. To give you an idea of businesses we’ve assisted at AVA, I put together a sample of our clients, as you can see there’s a broad range.

Virtual_Assistant_Clients

What are the Benefits of Working with a Virtual Assistant?

Unlike an employee, a VA works with you on an as needed basis; you pay only for the time spent on your task without wasted ‘water cooler’ time, or overheads such as employee benefits, office space or equipment.

We all have those tasks we procrastinate about, don’t we. They may be an important part of your business, but you just can’t do it all, there’s not enough time, you may not have the skill or efficiency, or perhaps you dislike certain tasks.

By taking care of these tasks, a VA can give you more time in your day to:

  • Network
  • Build your core business
  • Find and develop new opportunities
  • Increase profits
  • Achieve greater work/life balance
  • Spend with family and friends

I hope this has answered the questions: What is a Virtual Assistant (VA)? How do I work with a VA? What are the benefits of working with a VA?.

If you’re interested in learning how a VA can help your particular business, please feel free to hop on over to Get In Touch  to set up a complimentary 30 minute phone consultation, to chat about your business, and whether a VA would be a good solution for your needs.

In the meantime, I’d love to know, what are the Top 3 business tasks you’d outsource?

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Hello and thanks so much for visiting “Help! I’m and Entrepreneur.”

Whether you’re investigating the possibilities of an entrepreneurial opportunity, launching a startup company, or have established yourself as an entrepreneur, this blog is intended to build a community where we can discuss the issues we all face with running a small business.

My name is Jackie de Boer. I launched my SOHO, Accredited Virtual Assistance (AVA) in 2005, to provide more flexible office support services for solopreneurs, entrepreneurs and small business owners who require administrative support, but perhaps didn’t have the need, or resources, to pay a full-time, in-house Executive or Administrative Assistant a salary and benefits. As a virtual assistant, my clients pay only for the time spent on their projects and tasks; all work is performed from my home based office.

Virtual Assistant Home Office

AVA’s home based office

In recent years, I became fascinated with social media and how LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other social networking platforms could be used as a marketing tool in business. In 2009, following certification by VAClassroom as a Social Media Specialist, and requests from several clients, I added social media marketing to my service offerings.

AVA is a home-based business, which comes with its’ own set of challenges, as I’m sure many of you have discovered. My goal for this blog is to create a relevant and helpful community for all varieties of entrepreneur and small business owner; a place where we can discuss the issues we face with running a small business.

Each week I’ll be writing blog posts, or creating videos focused on the needs, questions and concerns of entrepreneurs, solopreneurs and small business owners, at whatever stage they may be in their entrepreneurial journey.

What is your biggest business challenge right now? Enter you challenge in the comment box below, and I’ll feature some of those challenges with possible solutions in future posts.

Entrepreneurship is neither a science nor an art. It is a practice.
~ Peter Drucker

Thanks again for visiting
Cheers!
Jackie

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