As a virtual assistant, you play a key role in the maintenance of the businesses you support. Some virtual assistants even act in roles such as Online Business Manager or Operations Manager without having the title. If you find that you are deeply involved with your client's businesses, how can you ensure to plan for their growth? After all, doing so benefits both them and you. It gives a great feeling of satisfaction to see a business thriving and knowing that you had a small part in its success.
Creating Business Systems
Perhaps your clients hire you because you excel in creating and implementing new ways to do things. An example of this would be finding a better way to deploy and complete projects. How can you create these systems with growth in mind?
Create systems that make sense.
Not just those that make sense to you, but are easy to follow by your clients and other team members. If your systems are complicated, the chances of them being implemented are minimal.
Create systems that are flexible
Things can change quickly. Create systems, but don't make them so rigid that if changes need to occur, it'll be like pulling your teeth to redesign them. Be reasonable.
Create systems that are tailored to the business
What may work in one client's business may not work down to the detail in another. That doesn't mean that your systems are broken, it just may mean that they need to be more customized to fit a particular business. If you have systems that you've been using for years, how can you build on that foundation and just add a few tweaks to fit your client's needs?
Documenting Business Processes
You may find that there are tasks that you have to perform repeatedly. For example, outsourcing work to a freelancer outside of your team. What steps were taken from search, to interview to hire? Documenting these steps can make repeating them again in the future much easier. In turn, they can become a part of the standard operating procedures of the business. If anyone else ever needs to assist you with this process, they can easily follow the steps that have been documented.
Whatever tool you use, ensure to include at minimum the following:
The processes' original date of creation
The last time the process was revised
Whom it was created by
A summary of the process
The process itself with bulleted or numbered steps
Any documents, links, etc associated with the process
Implementing Good Communication Practices
Implementing good communications practices is essential. If communication wanes, things can fall through the cracks and relationships can be strained. If you find that a client or their team needs assistance with communicating better, there are things you yourself can initiate.
What are the challenges with communicating that you notice? Is it timing? Is it last-minute updates when something should have been done yesterday? Is it that tones come off as rude? Observe and quietly analyze these issues. Then think about how they can be fixed. Once you have enough "evidence" for your case, find a time to tactfully bring them up to the person that you report directly to.
For example, if the issue seems to stem from communicating via multiple platforms you could say something like, 'I've noticed that it seems like we're communicating across multiple platforms and thus messages are getting mixed. Is it possible for us to implement one communication platform moving forward? I really feel like this could minimize frustration for everyone.'
Once you bring up the issues, present a solution. Clients may be quicker to observe your suggestions if you minimize the work they have to do by being quick to offer a reasonable and affordable fix to a problem.
In accord with the example we discussed above, if the issue is using multiple communication platforms, which one can you narrow it down to? If none of the current platforms are sufficient, do you know of another one that can be used? What would it require to switch to this platform in regards to:
Have all of this ready to present either verbally, in a message, in a document, or in a presentation.
If it is agreed that you can move forward with the solution to the communication problem, be ready to implement it. It's OK to ask for input. However, be proactive in showing that you're ready to tackle this issue. Even if it takes a little time for the benefits to be seen, you will know that you've done your part to take the lead in this matter.
Staying with our example, you will need to understand the platform enough yourself to administer it. You can do research or watch videos on the program if needed. Then, you will be ready to create training resources for all who will be using the platform. You could even plan a team kick-off meeting to explain more about the platform and how it will be beneficial.
Have a timeline in place for implementing the new platform and ensure that everyone involved is aware of the timeline. Then stick to it. Even if some may lag, if they find that it's the only way they are able to communicate with team members, this may help them feel more motivated to learn it. Don't hesitate to schedule one-on-one training with anyone who may need extra assistance. This will mean that you have to pay keen attention to all team members and do a check-in or two in the beginning.
Implementing A Task and Project Management Tool
Implementing a project and task management tool is also important when planning for growth. Note that not just any tool will do either. It needs to be one:
That's within the budget of the company
That will be relatively easy for the team to implement
That will take into consideration the work culture of the team. For example, does your team tend to coordinate on projects or work autonomously? Are there any visual learners who prefer a Kanban board to a list? These are questions to consider in regards to the tool you choose.
That allows for easy integration with other apps (such as with your email provider)
One such tool is ClickUp. It really can become an all-inclusive work headquarters for your team.
With ClickUp you can:
Create different views of the same project (think lists, vs boards vs Gantt)
Embed a variety of things to minimize switching between apps
Send and receive emails directly within ClickUp
Take screenshots and screen recordings
See timelines and workloads
Comment and chat on tasks
and so much more!
If you work with a smaller team, the Free Forever plan may be a good start.
Plan For The Growth Of The Business
The things we've just discussed are only a few ways in which you can use your skills to plan ahead for smart business moves. By doing so, you not only will get to see your client's business flourish, but you will also potentially position yourself as a long-term partner for your valued client. Additionally, just think of the things you will learn along the way. And you know, we're always learning, always growing...
Wishing you continued success!