Hiring Tips – How To Interview A Great Administrative Assistant

Hiring TipsIf you’ve been feeling overwhelmed, drowning in emails or you’d just like to work less hours in your business this year, it’s time to hire an admin assistant and follow these hiring tips. An administrative assistant has often been referred to as the office juggler — managing several tasks and wearing many hats at once.

Whether you’re a startup company or you are a seasoned entrepreneur, hiring the right person for the administrative assistant position is crucial. Here are four basic criteria to assess when interviewing potential candidates. This will help you save time, money and headaches from hiring the wrong person.

Hiring Tips # 1 – Consider the Appearance

The first person clients see when they walk into the office is likely going to be your assistant. This means whoever you hire for this position needs to make a good first impression, as well as effectively represent your company’s ethos and brand.

The old rules of office dress code — pantyhose, pencil skirts, neckties — no longer apply, in most work environments at least. But he or she needs to understand your corporate culture and embody it, dress included. This persona is hard to teach, but invaluable to have, so consider your candidates carefully before selecting one.

Clothes and accessories say a lot about how candidates feel about themselves, and what they value in life. Outward appearance speaks to who is inside.

Hiring Tips # 2 – Take Note of Verbal & Nonverbal Skills

When someone has good verbal skills, it’s easy to tell. And having the qualified candidates interview with several different people on your team will give you a quick look at how each applicant adapts to different people, personalities and situations.

Non-verbal cues are a bit more difficult to detect, but can be even more revealing. A great assistant will make eye contact often, mimic your body language and smile regularly. You want someone who will make everyone at your business feel at ease. Your administrative assistant needs to, above all, be approachable and inclusive.

Hiring Tips # 3 – Personality

Not only does a personality test reveal things about ourselves that we were unaware of, it can also provide insight into how an employee learns, functions and grows. Great leaders create other leaders, not worker bees.

If you can figure out what makes your prospective administrative assistant tick, what makes him passionate or what makes her react positively, then you can get a better idea of how the person will fit into your corporate culture, interact with co-workers and handle stress. While you don’t want to be hiring a mini you,  you also don’t want to hire someone whose personality clashes with you and your team.

Hiring Tips # 4 – Preparedness

One of the best ways to weed out the less serious candidates is to make a very simple request before the interview. An example email request: “Please bring a copy of your résumé to the interview.” Or “Please review our company website prior to your interview.” With just one question during the interview, you’ll be able to discern how detail-oriented the candidate is and it’s a great starting off point for an honest, productive hiring atmosphere.

QUESTION: What is your biggest challenge when it comes to finding a great admin assistant? Please share your comments and questions below.

© Copyright 2016

Outsourcing and Hiring Tips – See How You Can Easily Work Less, Play More and Earn More!

Outsourcing

Summer is a great time to take off to explore new destinations, experience new adventures or just enjoy lazy afternoons poolside.

But, I meet business owners all the time who are either too buried in the business to get away at all or they take their work with them on vacation — which doesn’t feel like a real vacation. Growing a successful business does not mean you have to be a workaholic. You can easily work less, so you can play more this summer … all while still growing your business.

This freedom is possible when you learn how to outsource and/or hire effectively. If you have a higher level salaried position that you are struggling to fill, let me say you should first check out some staffing agencies who can provide you with an abundant supply of potential candidates.

But for those times when you’re just trying to fill an hourly job or an entry-level position, here are 9 tips to help you find your next great hire and build more freedom into your business:

Hiring Tip #1: Hire part time freelancers.

I find the biggest obstacle for many small business owners when it comes to hiring is often the fear of taking on a full time employee. If you’re just getting started, start small. You can work with someone virtually either on a one time project basis and/or just 5-10 hours a week.

Here are 3 sites I have used successfully to find and hire affordable, skilled freelancers:

  • Upwork.com
  • eLance.com
  • ContemporaryVA.com

Hiring Tip # 2. Post an ad in your local Craigslist. 

If you prefer hiring local workers Craigslist is a cheap and effective way to get the word out online for people who are looking for work locally. Not only do you want to post the ad on Craigslist, you want to take a look at how you’re wording the ad.

Hiring Tip #3.  Place an ad in your local print newspaper in the classified section. 

If you’re in a hurry to find the right employee consider implementing a multiple prong approach to get the word out both online and offline. You can also post an ad in your industry newspaper or magazine in the classified section. That way your opening is being seen by a niche audience of other professionals who are already in the industry.

Hiring Tip #4. Establish a finder’s fee program. 

You can write up a simple handwritten poster to explain your finder’s fee program. Offer a bonus. For example, $50 will be paid to the person who refers an applicant you end up hiring.

I would wait 30 days before you pay their finder’s fee to make sure the person is going to work out for you and doesn’t quit after the first two weeks.

You can also make it even better by making it a $100 finder’s fee with the stipulation that they would be paid $50 after the employee’s first 30 days and then they would be paid another $50 on that person’s six-month anniversary of working with you. That way you’re helping and motivating others to send you candidates who are likely to be more long-term for you.

A simple way to put this information out there is by putting it on a poster where they can tear off the phone number. That would be the guerrilla marketing approach. You can also transfer that same information and have it printed on a postcard, so when you meet people who would have a possible candidate in mind or perhaps even be that potential candidate, you can hand them a postcard that explains the opening and the finder’s fee offer.

Hiring Tip # 5. Promote the Finder’s Fee program at your place of business. 

If you have a brick-and-mortar business for customers where they are coming into your building, you can promote the opening to your customers. Have signage where they can see that you are offering a finder’s fee program for your opening.

For example, you can offer your customers $50 in free services as a finder’s fee after 30 days, and $100 or $50 after the first six months. Let your customers, who love you already, help you fill the position that you need.

Hiring Tip # 6. Poster locally. 

You can do a simple marketing approach and create posters – the kind with phone numbers you can tear off at the bottom that promote your help-wanted position along with the finder’s fee offer.

You might as well kill two birds with one stone and create a second poster that really describes your business. This one would be addressed to appeal to your customers. Keep a bunch of copies in your car and as you go throughout your day, you can post them at some key places where there’s a lot of traffic. Write down what those key places are so it will help trigger the reminder for you when you are in the car.

Grab an index card and write things like grocery stores, health clubs, coffee shops, churches, YMCA bulletin boards, community college bulletin boards, etc. Of course, your target list of locations will depend on the type of opening that you have and where it makes the most sense where those Ideal applicants may be hanging out.

If you want to boost this passive approach, you can either hire some high school students to go and blanket your town with these posters, or even utilize non-paid high school or college interns to do things like this for you.

Hiring Tip #7. Post your opening as an update in your LinkedIn feed. 

Let your connections know that you have an opening and let them know about your finder’s fee program. You can even post the same update several times a week to have that message to catch different people who log on at different times of day.

Another thing you can do, is utilize the specific targeted LinkedIn groups. It doesn’t cost anything when you post in the groups under the job discussions tab. If you wanted to boost visibility, yes, you can pay to purchase under the LinkedIn recruiting program.

Hiring Tip #8.  Look for local job boards online. 

You can do a search using a variation of keywords like the name of your city, help wanted, and job openings. You can also search the exact position that you offer and see where competitors have posted their ads.

There are many Facebook groups, as well, that may have targeted communities of business owners in your local area. Share your post or your announcement about your finder’s fee program to other business owners who would likely also have past and current applicants that they have in their files.

Hiring Tip #9. Direct recruiting. 

You may have a hard time filling a position, particularly if it requires a degree of industry specific experience. In this case, you can go out and meet those types of people directly as a customer.

You can do direct recruiting right in LinkedIn by searching for variations of the job title you are looking to fill. LinkedIn is a great way for you to view people’s resumes for free. You can short list your top picks and then reach out to the ones you’re most interested in to invite them to apply for your position. This is a great practice because statistics have shown that often the best hires are the people who were not actively looking for work, but were recruited.

Utilize these nine steps listed above, you will be well on your way to not only filling your position quickly, but finding a candidate that is a good fit for you and your business. It is possible to easily work less, play more and earn more through your business.

Outsourcing your tasks and hiring other people is your pathway to building a thriving freedom business you love.

QUESTION: What is your biggest challenge when it comes to finding and hiring great help?

© Copyright 2016

How to Leverage LinkedIn for Business

Reader’s Questions: Leverage Linkedin

“Although I’ve been successfully selling $ 3 Million a year in my company’s services, I have yet to leverage Linkedin. How can I get started with Linkedin to make my selling process quicker and easier?”

— Leonard Schmidt,
Senior Account Rep, Philadelphia.

Leonard, thanks for submitting your question. Even though Linkedin has been out for a long time now, there are still many business owners and sales people who have not integrated this great marketing tool. Here are my tips for you:

How to Get Started Using LinkedIn to Attract New Clients

If you’re not using Linkedin as a part of your sales & marketing strategy, you should be. With the power of social networking like Linkedin, there’s really no need anymore to have to cold call. Your batting ratio will always be depressingly lower by cold calling. Why not instead set yourself up with warm, pre-qualified strategic introductions to your target prospects?

Social networking is a great tool to leverage when you are looking to find new clients for business. But, some social networks are much more effective at helping you find new clients than others — LinkedIn for example. Unlike the odd bunch you find on Facebook, usually there to have fun and interact with their friends, LinkedIn is a business-oriented social network which people join in order to make business connections and find new opportunities in their fields of endeavour.

A brief look at the LinkedIn platform will show you people whose profiles are categorized according to:

  • Countries;
  • Industries and companies where they work;
  • Educational institutions they attended;
  • Their fields of specialty and if you are registered on the LinkedIn platform:
  • Who they possibly know that you might know within your network as well.

Here’s 5 quick actions you can take right now to start making Linkedin work for you:

1. Join 20+ interest groups. LinkedIn also has interest groups where people from a particular field or industry or people with common business interests participate in.

Using these details, you easily find out that you have access to the following information:

  • People with specific positions within a company or industry;
  • Target market of persons and companies for your products and services;
  • Related industries which might be interested in products and services you have to offer;
  • Affinity groups in which you can network to discover new clients.

By skimming through the posts in these interest groups you can also get a good sense of what the hot topics are, so you can make your message relevant to the specific issues your group members care about the most.

2. Consider advertising options. Another useful feature, which LinkedIn offers is the ability to market to members through the use of its in-platform advertising system. With this tool, instead of bothering yourself about making direct contact with other members or sending information, which may end up not being replied to, you can easily set up an add or a series of adds and list the parameters and the demographics you want these ads to target. After this, you can simply watch the new leads and clients come in, based on the effectiveness of your advertising campaign.

3. Look for targeted live events. You can also used LinkedIn to find out which events your connections, or at least people in your industry, are attending and how to attend these events to physically network with potential new clients within your industry. You can even market your products and services at such events. Such events provide you with the direction to know where your industry is headed and potential new developments you would otherwise be unaware of.

4. Search for your ideal customers. One simple tool, which people tend to overlook on the LinkedIn platform, is the search field, where you can search for People, Groups, Companies, Jobs as well as a number of other details. I’ve listed the People, Groups and Companies aspect, because these are the most important when seeking out new clients.

You can easily put in a search term for whatever product or service you’re selling and see the companies, people or groups dedicated to those interested in the product. The number of leads you get from this search activity depends on how creative you get in seeking out search terms which People, Groups or Companies may have included as part of their information on the platform and which would be an indication that they are interested in whatever you have to offer.

5. Build your expertise. The final great tool on LinkedIn, which will help with new client sourcing through the platform, is LinkedIn Answers. It can also be accessed via the search form as well as the “More” category option on the menu bar once logged into LinkedIn. Using LinkedIn Answers requires regular participation on the platform, as it is an area where members get to ask questions and other members get to answer them.

Using this tool, you can find your area of specialty on LinkedIn and answer questions by other members regularly with the aim of becoming an authority in your area of specialty on LinkedIn. This will improve your profile ranking on the website and also introduce you to new clients, who want further information based on the answers you may have provided or your recognized expertise within that industry.

A lot of business owners have made use of this means to attract new business to their companies and profit from it immensely. In fact, I would have never gotten any of my international clients, who would have never heard about my business growth coaching practice in Philadelphia, if it wasn’t for them accessing my expertise through LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is a great tool for business and it goes beyond the simple listing of your personal profile and connections with people you have already done business with. Using the tips and tools offered here, you could leverage this business-oriented social network platform to provide you an ongoing supply of new clients.

About Yoon Cannon: Top business coach Yoon Cannon has helped thousands of small business owners, entrepreneurs, coaches, consultants and sales teams achieve dramatic results in growing your business. Over the past 20 years Yoon has started 4 successful companies and sold 3 of them. She offers fresh insights as a seasoned business growth expert. Yoon delivers proven process for your sales, marketing and management development. Grab free valuable gifts and resources at https://www.ParamountBusinessCoach.com To book Yoon to speak at your next event email: YoonCannon@ParamountBusinessCoach.com To schedule a complimentary business coaching consultation call (215) 292-4947.

© Copyright 2016

Boost Your Profits! 7 Key Places Small Business Owners Need to Measure to Boost Profits – (Part 2)

And now for Part 2 of Boost Your Profits! 7 Key Places Small Business Owners Need to Measure to Boost Profits

boost your profits#1. Measure your closing ratio and average order.

Boost your closing ratio and you will boost your profits. Closing ratio should be measured in relation to the number of people who came in the door to sample your product or service or in relation to the number of estimates you delivered to prospective customers. Both numbers are vital in making your forecast calculations. Remember that performance measured is performance gained.

#2. Measure net profits in each of your product or service offerings.

As a business you’re not just selling only one thing. You might sell one core service, but you offer it is many different ways and at different price points.  But, many small business owners look at their revenues in one lump as the annual total. Instead, what you should do is run separate P & L’s (profit and loss statements) for each of your offerings.

If your company sells 4 main services you should know how they rank in terms of margins, not just in terms of the total sales volume they equaled together.  You want to understand what your total net profits are as a diversified portfolio that represents all your program, product or service offerings. It’s harder to boost profits in broad strokes. Get specific on each service you offer. Remember that performance measured is performance gained.

#3. Measure your cash flow statement weekly.

It is important that you know the financial snapshot of your business on a weekly basis, particularly if cash flow is already uncomfortably tight. That means you need to have a reliable bookkeeper who can stay on top of invoicing, bills and reports. Your bookkeeper also needs to be readily accessible, so you can get your information in a timely manner. Remember that performance measured is performance gained.

#4. Measure your staff productivity.

Ok, if your response to this final step is “I don’t have any staff” then let me be blunt by saying doing everything in your business yourself is the slowest way to boost profits.  If you’re a solopreneur and you don’t want the payroll expenses of hiring your first employee, start by outsourcing to a virtual assistant even 5-10 hours a week.

Whether you choose to hire employees or part time freelancers (contractors) have a system that measures their productivity. This is for you to be able to get a quick snapshot where you can see:

  • how long it takes them to complete certain types of tasks
  • the outcome result they accomplish and
  • the value those results bring to boosting your profits.

You could have someone at $20 an hour who takes 20 hours to complete a task or you could have someone else who is paid $40 an hour who can deliver the project in two hours. By measuring staff productivity you will find that cheaper doesn’t always mean cost-effective.

In closing, if measuring these 7 areas in your business is new to you, it’s not as hard to do as you think. It’s like anything else. The more you do something the easier it becomes. Then, these success habits become as automatic and subconscious as breathing. But, nothing will change if you don’t start taking action.

ACTION STEP:  Set yourself up for success by scheduling a meeting with yourself in your calendar RIGHT NOW for you to work “on your business” instead of just “in your business.” Start by scheduling a 30 min meeting once a week and mark it “review 7 measurements”.

QUESTION: What is the one biggest block that keeps you from measuring in your business? Please share your comments and questions below.

© Copyright 2016

Stop Wasting Time and Start Making Money — 6 Productivity Tips to Help You Make More Money This Year!

make more moneyTo make more money is probably one of your goals.  There are entrepreneurs whose business makes them $20,000 a year and then there are other entrepreneurs whose businesses makes them 2 million a year. Both entrepreneurs had the same amount of time and yet achieved completely different results.

There are two kinds of entrepreneurs — icons who whip through their day and always finish their to-do list and everyone else. The “everyone else” column holds an awful lot more mere mortals that the other one does.

It’s tough getting through the workday sometimes when you’ve got no one to tell you what to do or how to do it. Too often, this results in hours of sitting at the computer, not really accomplishing anything.

Savvy entrepreneurs try every tip they find, and use the ones that work in their daily routine to avoid the loss of income that dawdling creates. Here are 6 productivity tips to help you stop wasting time, so you can start to make more money this year as an entrepreneur.

#1.  Decide to Unitask

Multitasking has long been held as the way to get a lot done in a small amount of time. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work. According to Forbes magazine, our brains don’t work that way. Concentrating on one task and doing it well to completion is the way to work most effectively.

#2. Schedule Your To-Do List on Your Calendar

You can’t get any work done if you don’t know what you need to do. Detailed scheduling will eliminate any question of what to do in any part of your day. Sit down the night before and write an hour-by-hour schedule for your work day, filling in the task you’ll complete in each time block. Do nothing during each hour but the assigned task.

#3. Try the Pomodoro Technique to Make More Money

Many people have a hard time concentrating even one straight hour without their mind wandering. The Pomodoro Technique of work training can help solve this problem. It’s a method of working flat-out for 25 minutes, then taking a 5 minute break. Use an online timer such as the Tomato Timer built for this technique or Instant Boss, and you’ll have audible and visual clues to keep you on track.

#4. Block Distractions

If social media and other fun sites are taking your attention away from work, get rid of them during your day. Download an app such as LeechBlock. These apps set a block on your browser that don’t allow it to load a list of websites. Create the list of sites from your personal distractions, set a timer for work hours and you won’t be allowed to goof off.

#5. Look for Recurring Tasks You Can Automate

There are lots of little tasks you have to do every day that could be done more efficiently. An easy one is automating your bill payments. Just as important is backing up your work on a regular basis. You can back up automatically with a cloud service like Mozy to not only secure your work, but access it from any device anywhere.

#5. Organize Your Finances

I find a lot of my clients spend upwards of 50 hours between December and January simply trying to get their business financial reports together for their CPA.  That is completely unnecessary and easily avoidable. If you’re constantly searching for invoices and your taxes are a mess organize your finances by installing a simple bookkeeping program. Ones such as QuickBooks or Peachtree are designed for non-experts and have a very shallow learning curve. Make a habit of using this for a few minutes each day or just one hour per week and your finances will be much simpler to deal with.

#6. Improve Your Work Environment

Streamlining your work  environment can help to streamline your work day. Get rid of everything on your desk that doesn’t absolutely need to be there. You should have as few distractions for your mind as possible, and that includes items off the screen as well as on. Create an organized work space, whether it’s a dedicated room or a corner in the den, and give it a neat and tidy look. The lack of distractions will help you keep your mind on your work.

Achieving your BIG goals starts with making a series of small changes in how you leverage your time. I challenge you to start implementing these 6 tips. Practice them on a regular basis and eventually they will become engrained as a part of your success habits.

QUESTION: What is the #1 challenge that is getting in your way to make more money this year?  Please share your comments below.

© Copyright 2016

 

4 Software Solutions to Help a Busy Small Business Owner Manage

You’re competing with nearly 22 million small business owners in the U.S., according to the U.S. Census Bureau. How quickly and efficiently you get something done for your customers can make the difference between earning their loyalty or losing them to the competition.

Managing your time well can get you repeat business and referrals, and these tools will help you be fast and efficient, no matter what your business.

 (1) Manage Customers

Not long ago, only large corporations could afford to use sophisticated customer relationship management (CRM) systems. Now they are available through software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers on the cloud. A good CRM system lets you access and analyze customer information, get better visibility into the sales cycle and learn the business trend information that helps with forecasting. Zoho CRM is one such cloud-based tool. Use it to:

  • Get reports on customer activity every morning
  • Integrate your sales activity with customer contact information and have a complete record of how the sales cycle is progressing
  • Access customer information on the road with the Zoho mobile app

(2) Manage Accounts Receivables (AR)

Your cash flow depends on getting payment from customers, and payment from customers depends on you getting your invoices out promptly. A cloud-based invoicing tool such as Intuit Quickbooks automates many AR tasks and lets you monitor customer account activity. Quickbooks can:

  • Schedule electronic invoices for delivery and follow them up with reminders when payment is past due
  • Find your slow-paying customers, so you can send incentives to get their payments in on time
  • Generate revenue reports and tax statuses at any time
  • Access customer account information whereever you are with its mobile application

(3) Manage Your Team

Whether you have one or 100 employees, you need to manage company and project information in a way that gives people access to what they need when they need it. Expensive and complicated collaboration tools such as Microsoft’s Sharepoint were out of reach for many small businesses. Evernote Business is a better option for small businesses, and it continues to add helpful features. With Evernote Business you can:

  • Manage all company data and create notebooks that contain information for specific projects
  • Easily search for data within all project notebooks
  • Link team notes, so you can view the thread of activity and comments on any project
  • Capture data from the Web and store it in a project’s notebook for future reference
  • Access Presentation Mode, which lets you display team results and statuses directly from within Evernote without having to use other presentation tools

(4) Manage Your Social Media

If you are heavily invested in social networking for your business, use Hootsuite to manage all your social media campaigns from one place. All of the major players including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram are integrated into one dashboard view. Use Hootsuite to:

  • Track your campaigns, analyze results and receive customer feedback
  • Access advanced analytics, including an integration with Google Analytics (Pro version only)
  • Save time you would spend working on each platform individually

There are hundreds of excellent software tools out there today to help you manage your staff and your time. The place to start of course is to first identify which of your tasks are tedious or recurring and then find a software solution to improve the process.

Once you’ve shortlisted the time consuming tasks in your work you can then begin searching for the right software. Or, even better why not just ask our community right here and share what you’re searching for in the comment box below.

QUESTION: What is your favourite piece of software that has helped you manage your small business?

© Copyright 2016