Author: Jarret Pulido

A few weeks ago, a bakers son posted on twitter his father’s sad day. It is because their doughnut shop just opened and no one is buying. This was retweeted by the thousands. Celebrities even chimed in on the discussion. This caused the business to be swarmed with customers and became an overnight sensation. It is yet to be seen how this will affect the business in the long term but this business followed a common phenomenon that occurs to start-ups that become famous overnight.

Reading an article by Max Ogles about The Spotlight Effect made me think about how often it happens to entrepreneurs. What is The Spotlight Effect? It is that stage in the business cycle where the business will value the “artificial buzz” and media feedback over the voice of the customer base. The “spotlight effect”- causes businesses to overestimate their capacity and behave in ways that are not consistent with the reality of business circumstances. A startup that is affected by the spotlight effect might over think their marketing goals, underestimate customer acquisition costs, unintentionally create the wrong brand or set unrealistic targets – all things that result to emotional frustration for the entrepreneur and the team. How do you avoid it for your own business?

  1. Keep your Feet on Earth –  prepare for the worst by anticipating them. If your startup received a lot of complaints, how bad would it be for business? If you address the complaints well, you’d continue business as usual. And when you receive positive attention, you can expect a similar effect.
  2. Manage your Expectations– Your real audience can be narrowed down to a small circle that represents the group that might try your product and like it. A nice, humbling way to take on the spotlight effect.
  3. Include other Variables– businesses don’t operate in a vacuum, include other variables whether or not these people are even in your target audience. The best ways to see different variables is to receive constant feedback from customers and those outside of your business.

The team meeting is invaluabe. It is during this time when leaders can communicate and update their staff on the comings and goings of the business. In as much as it is invaluable, it is also one of the least anticipated tasks in the workplace. One reason is the lack of knowledge on the different aspects of meeting management on the part of the leader. Another is how the leader monopolizes the discussion. Since leaders see the big picture it is usually their tendency to be directive and not consultative. How do we make out meetings more interactive and productive on the level of our staff? Here are some tips.

1. Have your staff report their tasks, accomplishments and challenges.

Nothing will make your staff more involved in meetings… and their jobs, other than a weekly report. This will help you get an understanding of their accomplishments and challenges. Reporting also allow you to engage with your staff on a micro level, which leads us to the next point.

2. Don’t just give out tasks, request for an action plan.

In as much as you the manager the macro level requirements of your business; your staff knows the micro level requirements of their role. Instead of telling them what to do you can ask them to make an action plan that can be implemented on a weekly basis.

3. Advice, Guide, and Support.

As the manager, you have to make sure that your staff’s action plans are aligned to the business goals. Also, that you can provide guidance and support in the actions they are going to make.

4. Follow up.

Conduct short team huddles on a daily basis for update purposes. This can be done during the first 15 minutes of the shift or before their shift ends. This way, the team can be reminded of their targets and you can make revisions to the action plan as necessary.

As an HR professional for more than a decade I’ve seen my share of office romances. Some of them are successful enough to lead to a flourishing relationship for years on end. Others lead to the ditches… and so is employee performance. Here are some tips you could use to manage office romance.

Don’t be an office romance police

You don’t want to have a “Romeo and Juliet” scenario in your hands. It’s much more effective to have policies that will guide behavior while on the job. Examples of which are rules against public displays of affection. Emphasize in your policies that if relationships interfere with work duties, then disciplinary action may be needed.

Take note of the supervisor-subordinate relationship

If there is one kind of relationship that is truly dangerous for your company it is one of management-subordinate relationship. If the relationship is going well, other employees may claim preferential treatment. And if it goes poorly, your company could be vulnerable to harassment claims and litigation. It is best that this kind of relationship is banned altogether.

Put sexual harassment awareness front and center 

Any information, education, and communication effort and materials about office romances should always include discussion of your company’s policies around sexual harassment prevention. Make sure your HR policies on office romances aligned with rules against sexual harassment.

Love has always been a difficult area to navigate… both personally and professionally. Nonetheless, it is a rollercoaster we all enjoy and should be treasured. Happy Valentines!

Being productive is difficult and it is more challenging if your productivity is dependent on other matters. Sometimes productivity issues happen because of delays from other dependencies.  What can you do in these moments? Here are some tips:

Relax!

This may seem counter intuitive but mistakes happen more often when decisions are made in stressful situations or with a mindset clouded by stress. If you are dealing with an urgent matter, take a 20 minute breather. A nap will be best.

Wake up early

Winston Churchill, Steve Jobs, Benjamin Franklin, Ernest Hemingway… what do they have in common? They’re early risers. Productivity challenges can usually be address by starting the day early.

Set reminders throughout the day

It doesn’t matter Calendar, sticky notes, notebook, etc. these are tools you can use to keep track of your deadlines, agreements and tasks. Make it a point to refer to these often.

Hold yourself accountable

Anticipate delays by checking up on your contacts. Report potential delays before it happens. Hold yourself accountable to your output and results. Besides, your productivity is your responsibility.

The interview is critical point in the recruitment process. In fact it is too important there are usually two to three interview stages for one job opening. The interview is the first time an employer or client interfaces with a candidate. This is a make or break moment, the time where you get to know more about your candidates and determine whether you would want to make the commitment to work with one of them. Since an interview is that important, below are 5 Tips to help you make that interview count.

1. Know the Role

And I don’t mean knowing a “job description” but well beyond it. The job description doesn’t show a person. It is a list of items that the potential candidate or contractor needs to deliver to you. Thing is you will not be working with a list but with people and as such you need to know whether the candidate you are talking to can deliver the minimum requirements of your job description. This is where your understanding of “Competencies” come into the picture. Competencies are the knowledge, skills, abilities, and personal attributes of a person. Understanding how to do competency based interviewing will help you in making sure you hire the best person for the job.

2. Read Up on the Candidate

A common mistake of hiring managers is not doing their research of the candidates prior to the interview schedule. Reading up on the candidate allows you to have an idea of candidate’s competencies and experience. You can use this information to compare the candidate vis-a-vis the job description allowing you to write relevant questions. Which leads us to point # 3.

3. Ask Relevant Questions

I’m sure knowing if your candidate can golf  will do wonders for your social life but it may not contribute much to completing the work that needs to be done in the workplace.  A method done in competency based interviewing is the S.T.A.R. method. When doing this, a candidate is asked if they can remember a time in their career they found most challenging they are then asked questions related to:

  • Situation: What was the situation at the time?
  • Task: What are you supposed to deliver for the client/manager/customer?
  • Action: What did you do to deliver on your task in spite of the situation?
  • Result: What were the results of your action?

4. Have an interview form handy

An interview form functions as a guide that will help you stay on track in the interview. Some interviewers use the candidate CV as their interview guide. Some companies will have their own templates ready for use.

5. Take notes

Found something impressive? Write it down. Saw a red flag during the interview? Take note. With all the candidates you will meet it will be difficult for you to remember them all, especially those items that made significant impressions.

Millennials are not known for structure but productivity in today’s business context is dependent on it. On the surface it seems putting the words “millenial” and “structure” together in a sentence is next to impossible. However, in a way unique to this generation, these so called “unstructured” and “unproductive” millenials managed to surprise us with productivity tips. Read on to see the some productivity advice from millenial entrepreneurs.

Eat a live frog every morning…

And you will go through the rest of the day knowing the worst is over. When you look at your calendar, tackle the more difficult challenges first. Get them out of the way so you can work on the other “easier” items.

“Do the most difficult task first. You only have so much energy to expend in one day, and your ability to concentrate will dwindle as the day goes on. Therefore, you should complete the task that requires the most mental effort first.”Shaan Patel, CEO

Focus on the big picture

During team huddles and it is best when your team members see the big picture and they understand their contribution to how it will be accomplished. It helps boost team morale and individual motivation.

“When it comes to productivity, I use the Steve Jobs approach and set big milestones for my whole team. I give speeches every week and create an opportunity for everyone to work together in their capacities so that we accomplish the outcome we are looking for as a company.”Gerard Adams, Visionary

Plan Before Daylight Begins to Burn

Plan your activities the night before using your calendar, notebook, or any productivity app.

“The big key is to write out your daily tasks before the day even starts, and I usually do it the night before. This way when I wake up, I’m not wandering around. I’m focused. I like to check things off like a checklist. It helps create momentum and create a feeling of accomplishment.” – Adam Wenig, Digital Marketing Consultant.

Delegate…

until the only tasks left are those critical for you and your position. Using the Pareto Principle (where 80% of your intended results are delivered by doing the critical 20% of your tasks) delegate the mundane tasks to other people. Hiring a virtual assistant is a cost effective way of scaling your business without breaking the bank.

“The 80 / 20 principle is useful way beyond just business. I’ve been able to apply it to multiple facets of my life by asking myself the right questions. After years of being busy and not effective, I started to ask myself, out of all the tasks on my agenda, which ones will directly result in making money or achieving my current goal?.” Cody Mclain, CEO

For other productivity hacks check out codymclain.com 

SEO… how do you do it for your business? Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a big word but in essence it is making sure that when a person searches a topic related to your business in any of the top search engines –  your name will come out first page, even at the top. In doing SEO, you usually start with a keyword or keyword phrase. For example, you may have entered the search term ”SEO” to find this article.

To run an effective SEO campaign however, most companies will hire the services of consultants and managers. Why? because In today’s world, SEO is important for business success. First, more business is being done on the Internet. To be competitive in this new business environment, and tap this ever-growing market businesses will have to be savvy with this new medium. Second, internet marketing has a very basic goal… achieve targeted traffic. Not only that, they want interested visitors who will BUY. Third, there is literally billions of web pages and getting attention in this kind of noise, you have to create high quality and targeted content. As a business person you should be aware that your website will not generate traffic from the get go. You have to help it and it requires effort to generate just the right kind of traffic.

This is how SEO will make your business known. But if you are a starup and you dont have the resources to hire a firm, try looking for SEO virtual assistants.

What Does an SEO VA Do?

If you have been researching for a bit on SEO management then you may have an idea of the types of things this person can do. An SEO VA will mostly do specialized types of marketing management. Most of the things that will be done includes technical website optimization; being able to coordinate the creation and submission of content; Building online community and back links. An SEO VA will have to work with your Marketing team to monitor SEO projects from inception to completion. Specific competencies required for SEO VAs include keyword research, market analysis, and content optimization. SEO VAs will have to use SEO analytics to determine how effective the marketing and SEO campaigns are and provide recommendations if needed.

Why do I need an SEO VA?

Five words… It-Is-Here-To-Stay.  If you want traffic going to your website, you need to have an effective SEO game plan. It would be to you benefit if you have someone in your team who can take care of your business’s SEO. How will you find an SEO who will make you known? Click on  here to assistninja.com/getstarted/ find out!

Do you want to expand your reach for less? Do you want to sell more items without breaking the bank? Try hiring a Virtual Assistant and have them do the following:

1. Prospecting

If you have a list of qualified leads already, a virtual assistant can easily make calls and filter those who are ready to purchase your product or subscribe to your service. By having your VA do this, you get to speak to those who are truly interested in your product.

2. Competitor Research

This task will give you an edge in your business. By hiring a VA, you don’t have to spend hours doing the research trying to figure out what your competitors are doing.

By hiring a VA, you don’t have to spend hours doing the research trying to figure out what your competitors are doing.

3. Email Marketing

Marketing communication making sure that your customers/clients keep you at the top of their mind. The perfect way to do this is through email marketing. Remember, communication is core in building up a business relationship and it is important that you get a well-rounded VA.

4. Search Engine Optimization and Marketing

This means attracting traffic and through the major search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of generating traffic from search engines while Search Engine Marketing (SEM) means utilizing the different services of these search engines for your marketing advantage.

5. Social Media Marketing

If you are a busy entrepreneur, you don’t have the time to work on your social media marketing. Keeping your customers engaged is a task in and of itself. Work with virtual assistants who can implement social media management strategies for your business.

6. Content Marketing

Marketing, especially in the internet involves a lot of creating content. As a business, you should be able to create content as often as you can. Buzzfeed for example creates their content daily. Creating content gives more value and credibility to you as a business that’s why it should not be overlooked. Work with a VA who can interesting content for your audience on a regular basis.

7. Networking

What keeps the cash from flowing in your business is the reach of your network. Making connections online or off often results to relationships that will benefit both you and your connection. Online, pretty much all online connection can be done by a virtual assistant.

Selling is an Art, but it is also a Science. Selling real estate is one of those industries that rely heavily on the application of both. Do you want to take you real estate business to the next level? Hire a Virtual Assistant! Your Real Estate VA can help you manage the following process.

Listings

Marketing! This is how your business will be known. Hiring a VA who can handle your social media – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. – will help in getting the word out!  These platforms will drive business to you. There’s so much repetitive work that goes into the development of online marketing and this is where a virtual assistant can help.

Leads Generation

This is key in making your real estate, or any business for that matter, flourish. As an entrepreneur engaged in real estate your cold calling and converting them to hot leads is the most time consuming. Generating and qualifying leads can be done by someone trained by you. Not to mention Leads Generation in this day and age have changed. Blog writing, website management, and legitimate social media accounts can help in generating a pool of leads.

Leverage

The third is sales support. Having someone call and talk to clients is important in pre and post sale. Most agents focus on making two or three contacts to someone. The challenge is what if they’re not ready to buy today or sell on the day they were called? As a real estate entrepreneur you can have your VA follow a call system so you wont lose touch with your clientele. You can also have your VA manage the paperwork and contracts.

The “in thing” these days – superhero movies. What’s awe-inspiring about these movies is that it is a world where individuals make the impossible happen and such character is Iron Man. If you’ve seen the movies or read the comics you’d find that Tony Stark (aka Iron Man) is a multi-billionaire and has a strong desire to help humanity and he does this by donning an iron armor. Between running his company and being Iron Man, you’d have to wonder how he gets things done? That’s where J.A.R.V.I.S. comes in.

Just A Rather Very Intelligent System (J.A.R.V.I.S.) is Tony Stark’s AI computer. He programmed it to speak with a male voice in a British accent mainly because he was patterned after his butler, Edwin Jarvis who is a key person in his childhood. He was described by Tony Stark in one of the movies as just a natural language UI. Now he runs the Iron Legion. He runs more of the business than anyone besides Pepper.

What does J.A.R.V.I.S. do for Tony Stark that allows him to function between his business and calling?

He Keeps Tony Stark/Iron Man Up to Speed

Managing his calendar? Yes. System failure? He got it covered. Makes phone calls and appointments? That too. J.A.R.V.I.S. has been shown plenty of times to manage all of these and more in the movies and comics.

He is a Business Partner

Not in the strict definition of the word, but whenever Iron Man is in a bind, J.A.R.V.I.S. has his back. He also manages Stark Industries with Pepper. 

He Manages some Areas of Business

In one of the movies, Iron Man had J.A.R.V.I.S. control the Iron Legion and he has each and every one of them to fight along side Iron Man.

He takes Care of Tony’s Personal Affairs

J.A.R.V.I.S. doesn’t only have access to Tony’s calendar but his whole home. Heating, Security, you name it, he has it covered.

Guess what? You can also have your very own J.A.R.V.I.S.. You can make your business work and spend some time doing activities that you are passionate about. Isn’t that a liberating thought? Just send us a message and we’ll set it up.