No client wants to hear you didn’t have Internet so you couldn’t check email. #vatip Gotta Tweet!
We have to have a backup WiFi. #vatipGotta Tweet!
Start documenting everything you do. #vatip Gotta Tweet!
The big question to ask yourself today is can your business run without you in case of emergency?
As a virtual assistant, we provide services to our clients. We are the backbone for them. Regardless of what your specialty is, whether it falls under administrative, creative or technical, we’re the backbone for our clients. If they’re sick, depending on what our role is, that continues. It doesn’t, you know, get interrupted.
But what happens to us if we get sick? Have you thought about that? Have you thought about what would happen if your WiFi went out?
With all this snow that we’re having all over the U.S., and I’m sure there are other parts of the world that are getting snow as well, but with all that inclement weather, if something happened, the power went out, WiFi went out, whatever, are you prepared? What is your backup plan?
If something happened to your computer, your phone, whatever your regular tools are that you use for your business every single day, are you prepared if something were to happen to it? If something were to happen to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, AWeber, GetResponse, LeadPages, whatever it is, whatever tool you use for your business, are you prepared if something happens?
This episode is really just to get you thinking about that.
For a lot of you, you’re just getting started, so if you were to get sick things are going to pause because you are sick or if, Lord forbid, someone dies in your family and you’re out of it for a while, things pause for you. Your clients may be forced to find someone else because of that or, you know, maternity leave, all these different things.
Some things we can plan for ahead of time. We can plan for maternity leave. Being sick, you can’t really plan for that because you could wake up tomorrow and be sick. But this is something to have on your mind to think about.
Let’s say you’re just getting started, you’re taking projects on Elance. If you’re doing one-off projects, one-timers, then if you’re sick you wouldn’t be able to bid on projects. You wouldn’t be able to make any money during that time.
Let’s say you have ongoing clients, and this is where it really matters is if you’re unable to deliver what the client is expecting you to deliver. I remember working with a VA and I was emailing her, you know, sending her updates for the day and what we were tackling for the rest of the week and I didn’t hear back from her that day. I was like, okay, no big deal. I waited until the next day and didn’t hear back from her that next day, so I gave her until the next morning.
I said, okay, if I don’t hear from her the next morning, because this time we’re on day one, day two, headed into day three, and I gave her until the next morning, maybe about 11:00 or so and finally heard from her. She didn’t have WiFi so she wasn’t getting her emails.
Now, I’m going to tell you guys that is not a good answer. No client wants to hear you didn’t have Internet so you couldn’t check email.
Email, you should be able to get to it from your phone. You don’t have to always have email on your phone, but if the WiFi is out, something’s happened, you need to have a smartphone so you can check your email. I’ll tell you, it’s almost assumed that everybody has a smartphone; everybody’s able to check email. Especially if you’re entering into the virtual assistant business world, you’ve got to have a smartphone.
It wasn’t even a question I asked. I haven’t had clients ask me. I haven’t asked any VAs. It was an assumption at this time. Now it’s a question on my list. That may seem silly, but it’s because of that experience.
We have to have a backup WiFi. I’ve got a Verizon card. It’s called Jetpack, and they used to call it MiFi, but on it’s Jetpack. Every cell phone company has their own version of this. It’s where you take your WiFi with you. Up to five devices can connect to it, and pretty much every cell phone, you know, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, they all have their version of this. You want to have this so wherever you go, whether you’re at home, whether you’re traveling, no matter what, you always have WiFi.
If you’re traveling, oh my goodness, if you’ve ever traveled and you take your work with you, if you don’t have your own WiFi and you’re depending on their WiFi, it’s usually really slow because other people in the hotel are using it. People have got their phones and their laptops, or it’s just slow because they just don’t have good WiFi. So you want to always have your own.
That’s one major thing you could have in case of emergency if something happened to your own WiFi, to always have this with you as your backup.
The other thing is if you’re sick, let’s say you get sick. Let’s think about this. Do you want to email your client and tell them you’re sick?
I remember getting the stomach flu and I was in-between clients at that point. I was just glad because I was sick and I just needed to sleep for a couple of days while I was up and down, sleep for a couple of days in-between that, and was just glad that there wasn’t anything going at that time so I could get better.
Now, if that is the case, it’s good to have a network of VAs that you know that could be your backup, or if you are down the road in your VA business, you’ve been a VA for a year or two, maybe you’ve already started working with other VAs on different projects. Then having your team in place in the event you need your team in place is always, always good if you’ve got a backup, someone who can do what you do in case of emergency because things happen.
That’s just something to think about. I’m not sure at what point you are in your business, but it’s just always good to think about that. Because imagine, you know, if you think about this in a brick and mortar sense, you own a store, you just opened it, you would have a staff of people or a couple of people with you to get it going, and so in a sense they are your backup. But for us, because most of us are starting off solo, we are it.
You will find some clients want to know is it just you or do you work with a team of people. If they’re looking for an ongoing relationship, they may want to know what is your contingency plan, and let them know about your own WiFi. What is your plan in case your computer goes out? What is your plan if you get sick? Would they just be on hold? Would you notify them? Do you have a backup team?
The answer is going to be different for everybody. There’s no right or wrong. The wrong is not having a plan at all. It’s just something to be aware of; something that we don’t come in thinking about because we feel like everything is great.
I’ll tell you this really wasn’t a thought on my mind either until 2010 when my dad passed and I really mentally was not there. I would read emails and it would be hard to comprehend what I was reading because my mind was just not there. Fortunately at that point, I had been in business and I had a few people that I could reach out to that were on the team that could take some things off my hands. But even with that, some of the communication was off because I was off.
This is what I recommend you do, whether you’ve got a team in place, you’re just getting started, brand spanking new. Start documenting everything you do, even if you’re not necessarily writing it all down or typing it all out. Start videotaping yourself doing those tasks that you know, oh, this is it. I love doing this. I’m going to be doing this. This is my thing. This is my specialty. Start videotaping yourself doing that and then go back and make notes from what you did to make it so that you have a statement of operations for how you do things.
This way if you had to give someone instruction or what have you, you’ve got those backup videos to help you in regards to what you do. That would give them the instruction, because in an emergency you don’t have time to train. All you have time to do is, you know, hand off and provide a quick instruction. If you’ve already got that in place, it’s very helpful.
Also, if you’re looking to build your VA business beyond just you, these are training materials that you’ll be able to use for your team down the road. So either way, they’re going to be used for your contingency plans, future team, or both, you’ll have that information in place because you’ll start videotaping the things that you do all the time for clients.
If it’s newsletters, if it’s their social media, if it’s doing their WordPress, the way you do transcription, bookkeeping, images, whatever it is, make note of that, just doing a video.
There is a system called Jing, and Jing will record up to five minutes of your screen. You can also take pictures with Jing and it’ll let you draw arrows and write text and all that stuff so that you can start videoing what you’re doing on your computer and use that as your backup.
QuickTime Player will record your screen as well if you’ve got a Mac or just happen to have QuickTime Player on your computer. I think back in the day when I had a PC laptop I didn’t even use QuickTime Player. It was Windows Player. I’m not sure if you’ve got PC, if you’re using QuickTime or not, but if you have a Mac, you’ve got QuickTime.
But Jing is great. You’ll find that even helpful if you ever have to do a quick video for a client to show them how to do something, or to give instruction, or even to take a screenshot, a quick picture of something and draw an arrow on it, whatever you would need. But Jing provides all of that. I think there’s a paid and a free version. Up until this point, I just have used the free version. It’ll count you down for your five minutes, so you’ll know when your five minutes are up and, you know, you just go on to the next thing.
Another recording software for your screen is called ScreenFlow – ScreenFlow for Mac. Some people use Camtasia, but that gives you some options to get started in creating your contingency videos. Get that ready for your backups and your team that is coming and will be on the way because you’re building your virtual assistant business.
Oh, and also if you’re going on any vacations and you don’t want to work on vacation, that’ll come into play as well.
I’m starting to think, kind of stuck in winter, and spring is coming. The countdown is on. It’s hard to believe it’s March, but the countdown is here for spring so that makes me think about vacation.
But anyway, so that’s another thing, or take your WiFi card and take your work on the road, nothing wrong with that. Of course, get some days in there where you’re totally down and unplugged. I know it can be difficult. What I do when I’m away is I’ll work early in the morning before all of the activity starts, before breakfast, and then after the lunch where everybody’s kind of relaxed and winding down, taking a nap, I’ll dive in, do a check that way, and be done for the rest of the day.
I hope that helps you. The action step for this episode is to work on that contingency plan, because whether it’s an emergency, illness, vacation, or just growth, it will be beneficial for your business to have your process of how you do things in place.
Thanks so much for tuning in. If you like what you heard, stay tuned. We’ll be back. Tell me what’s going on with you. Come on over the Facebook page: facebook.com/tiffanyparsonbiz, or if you prefer a little shorter message, come on over to Twitter: @tiffanydparson.
See you next time.