3 Reasons Why Your Business Needs an Operations Manual

3 Reasons Why Your Business Needs an Operations Manual

You might well be asking, ‘what is an operations manual and why would I need one?’ Your Operations Manual is your guide to running your company. In theory, if you create a complete operations manual, you should be able to get any VA to run your business for you by simply asking them to follow the instructions therein.

Our Top 3 Reasons for having an Operations Manual

1. It removes you from the day to day operations of your business. Therefore, frees up some valuable time for you to concentrate on other tasks.

2. Safeguards your business, as about 90% of businesses fail because they rely heavily on the business owner to function. By allowing your VA to take some of the load off your shoulders you are future-proofing your business.

3. Allows you to easily outsource tasks to any VA hassle-free.

DIDACT Model

Each guide in our operations manual typically contains a video showing the task being done. It will also include a task overview using our DIDACT Model and a checklist of the main steps. This makes it easy for any VA to follow.

For complicated tasks, we also include a detailed step-by-step guide and for complex multi-step tasks, we create a flowchart. This is to show how the steps are related and how to make decisions about task variations while completing the process.

With a few exceptions, we could ask any VA in our business to do any task without them needing help. Of course, people become better and quicker with experience, but this ability to delegate any task to anyone has removed our reliance on key individuals in our organisation- including ourselves!

Why do I need one?

Creating your company’s Operations Manual is the first and most crucial step to removing yourself from the day-to-day operations of your business. This is your ticket to choosing when and how you work. It will enable you to stop doing all the stuff you hate and focus on what you do best. It is also the single most important activity you can do to safeguard your business’s future. About 90% of businesses fail in the first 10 years. One of the biggest reasons is that they rely on the business owner to function.

This inevitably leads to burnout because as your business grows, so does the workload. If you have to oversee every task, you quickly become the bottleneck and the single point of failure. When you take time off, your business productivity inevitably falls.

Safeguarding your business

Creating your Operations Manual effectively removes you as the single point of failure in your business. About 75% of UK businesses don’t have any staff. Having asked over 1000 small business owners what their biggest challenges in outsourcing their work are, a large proportion says something along the lines of ‘finding a reliable VA to do the work to an adequate standard’.

We outsource 10,000’s hours of work each year to our team of Virtual Assistants. I would argue that it’s actually EASY to find a VA to reliably do your work, to an adequate standard IF you have a decent Operations Manual.

We hope you now see the importance of an operations manual and how it could help take the stress out of taking on staff. It will also ensure that every task that needs to be done within your business can be easily delegated, all by having an effective operations manual.

Finally! A Speedy Process For Hiring a Virtual Assistant

Finally! A Speedy Process For Hiring a Virtual Assistant


Are you daunted by the hiring process and don’t know where to start? Read on to find out how you can hire your next virtual assistant with our easy to follow 6-step guide. It will show you how to hire a Virtual Assistant in the Philippines in around an hour. All you need to do is follow the steps and put them into action.

Step 1: You need to write a killer job post.

To attract the best candidates, you need to write a job post that will catch people’s attention. By following our step by step guide in our recent blog, you will be able to write a job post that will draw in the best virtual assistants that the Philippines has to offer: https://blog.systemsandoutsourcing.com/blog/writing-winning-job-post-recruit-best-virtual-assistants

Step 2: Create Your Application Process

Using a Google form is a great way to ask a series of questions to eliminate most of your applications in a few minutes. All you need to do is create a simple questionnaire and then share the link at the end of your job posting.

Step 3: Post Your Advert

The best website that we have found for hiring virtual assistants in the Philippines is https://www.onlinejobs.ph/. Not only is there a wide choice of great virtual assistants who have a variety of skills sets, but you can also post links to your Google form, you just need to subscribe for one month to do this.

Step 4: Shortlisting

A word of warning after years of experience, don’t be tempted to look at any CVs that are sent your way, except those that pass the final video stage. If you do, it will sway you and take you away from the process that you have created.

Instead, do the following:

  1. Unpublish your job advert after 48 hours
  2. Open the Google Form
  3. Click ‘Responses’
  4. Then ‘create spreadsheet’ (green box) to export all of the results.
  5. Turn off ‘accepting responses.’

Now, my quick method for shortlisting candidates is to go to the spreadsheet and look at relevant columns that can help you eliminate candidates based on their answers. For example, a column containing candidates’ answers regarding their availability. The people who answered with a lesser amount than you require can be deleted.

Step 5: Interview

In the 5-minute video that you will have asked the candidates to send over with their responses, a great tip is to watch this video at double speed. This way each interview takes 2.5 minutes per person. This saves you a lot of time and still gives you all the information you need to make an informed choice.

Our team typically interview for most job posts and the entire hiring process takes us around 1 hour, regardless of how many people apply.

Check this FB Live on how you can interview your VA in 2.5 minutes or less: https://www.facebook.com/groups/systemsandoutsourcing/permalink/369065480209016/

Step 6: Start Outsourcing Your Time-Consuming Tasks!

Now you have a new member of your team on board, you can start outsourcing all those time-consuming tasks that were taking up your free time.

We wish you good luck on hiring your next virtual assistant from the Philippines!

Why Are Some Entrepreneurs Overwhelmed When Others Cope Just Fine

Why Are Some Entrepreneurs Overwhelmed When Others Cope Just Fine

I want to share some useful insights I’ve had from speaking to dozens of business owners recently- some are struggling some are notThose that are doing well all have one thing in common, that is the subject of this article.

I have hundreds of friends and associates with property businesses – including myself. Since COVID kicked in, we have been inundated with dealing with cancellations, arrears and issues with development projects falling through.

Right at the time when the business owner needs to focus on saving the business, those that haven’t systemised their processes or who are still doing everything themselves are being overwhelmed by admin. This means they are getting squeezed from both sides- reduced income and a lack of time to do anything about it.

Those that have outsourced their day-to-day operations are able to cope much better, as they have the headspace and time to think and react. Without a team to do the work of your business, you can never take time off, never truly relax on holiday, and as I’ve just described, you will be hit hard at when the unexpected happens.

You quickly become the bottleneck and the single point of failure.

Also, if you are doing all the work, you are your business, you’re gonna have a hard time selling your business when you want to exit as investors aren’t going to be too keen on buying a company that relies on the owner to do everything – it just doesn’t make sense.

Maybe your goal is to leave a legacy. If it is, make sure it’s a legacy that your kids actually want! If they’ve watched you work yourself half to death and be an absent parent as a result, do you think they’d be keen to take over the reins?

I’ve definitely been guilty of putting my work before my family and friends in the past.

If you don’t build a team, you will be trapped in a prison of your own making. Your team is the key to set you free.


Despite all the reasons why growing a team is essential to your business and your own well being,
a staggering 76% of all business in the UK have no staff. 

Why is that? Why do most business owners fail to get help? 

They believe they are:

  • Saving Time
  • Saving Money
  • Are scared of letting go
  • Don’t believe anyone could do their work for them
  • Or they simply don’t know how or where to find affordable, talented staff and how to manage them effectivelyI was guilty of thinking all of these things. Maybe you can relate to some of these too?

    I blame the lack of a good team as the major reason I was on the brink of bankruptcy by the age of 26.

    It was 2006, and I’d been building my property portfolio for 4 years. I’d sunk everything into the latest development project when I ran out of money. I was forced to move back in with my parents, lived off credit cards and used overdrafts and loans to pay suppliers and labourers.

    When the day finally came to get the project approved so I could refinance the property and pay off my debts, I was excited, to say the least.

    That excitement turned into horror when the building inspector refused to sign off the development.

    I’d failed to meet certain fire regulation standards, and the property was deemed as unfit for purpose. It was going to take thousands of pounds that I simply didn’t have to make right.

    I can remember the moment so clearly- where I was stood, what the weather was like, and the sick, churning in my stomach as what should have been the happiest day of my business’ journey suddenly turned into the worst.

    I had no way to pay off my debts, and the interest was mounting up.

    After weeks of stress and sleepless nights, I eventually did get the approval I needed. I was able to remortgage the property, clear my debts, and save my business.

    I was lucky, but many business owners aren’t.

    A major factor in this venture going wrong was that I was trying to do everything myself so I ended up overwhelmed. I made too many mistakes and just didn’t have the time to focus on the important stuff.

    One of my biggest reasons for not growing a team was lack of cash. Hiring UK based staff wasn’t an option. Like most self-funded startups, I just didn’t have the money.

     


After nearly 16 years as a one-man-band, I finally hired my first virtual assistant about 4 years ago.
 

That was a turning point in my business and my life. I now have an established team, based in the Philippines, that run all my day-to-day operations, leaving me to focus on leading my company and sharing my knowledge with anyone who cares to listen (thank you for listening!). 

Like most companies, since COVID we have seen a squeeze on our revenue and we’ve had to turn all our attention to creating new content and services to help people get through these challenging times. In doing so, we’ve increased our sales by providing value to our clients. 

At the same time, we’ve also downscaled our team. 

Because we have robust systems, this has been a relatively painless activity for us as a business, despite it being one of the hardest things we’ve had to do emotionally, as we had to let some great people go. Thankfully, we managed to find jobs for everyone with our clients, so no one ended up losing their income! 🙂 

Also, since we have great systems, our remaining team is still able to run all of the day-to-day operations to allow me to focus on income-generating activities. 

If we didn’t have the team and systems in place to cope, we’d be in serious trouble right now. Instead, we are positioned to come out of this stronger and more profitable than we went in. 

I feel incredibly lucky that I figured out how to create systems and work with remote teams that live in countries, where the cost of living means we can pay just a few pounds per hour for highly talented workers and still give our staff a great quality of life. 

Working with Virtual assistants and creating systems and automation has saved our business during these challenging times. 

If you’ve not already done this, now is the perfect time to get started so you can outsource your admin and focus on generating income and taking advantage of the new opportunities as they arise. 

I’ll be sharing more content soon about how you can easily make the transition to building an affordable remote team soon, so keep your eyes open for my next few posts. 

Until then, I wish you all the best. 

Please feel free to get in touch if you need help. 

Reference

*THE REPORT ON SMALL FIRMS 2010-2015, Lord Young 2015.

10 Ways A Virtual Assistant Can Help Free Your Time

10 Ways A Virtual Assistant Can Help Free Your Time

If you are drowning in admin, email management or struggling with your digital marketing and website design, you’re not alone. Many entrepreneurs struggle with all the tasks that need to get done each day and end up working late into the night. If this is a problem that you frequently have, maybe you need to try working with a virtual assistant.

Virtual Assistants For Entrepreneurs

Finding the right virtual assistants can take a bit of time. Therefore, it is important to find the right person and someone who fits your business needs. Besides, once you find the perfect VA they can save you hours of time and effort, from managing your diary and emails to updating your website. Also, they will help you get out from under the mountain of work, and you will have some free time to concentrate on other aspects of your life.

Here is a list of tasks that a Virtual Assistant can typically help you with:

1. Email Management

If your inbox is overflowing or you are continually receiving messages, a virtual assistant can be of help. They can sort through your inbox and file emails, respond appropriately and unsubscribe to any unwanted emails.

2. Transcription

A virtual assistant can help you take your audio and transcribe it.

3. Data entry

Data entry can be a very time-consuming task and one that you can easily outsource to a VA. Simply send over the documents with the data, and your virtual assistant will add these to your software or spreadsheet.

4. Research

You can ask your virtual assistant to do your research for you. This can be travel itineraries, your competitors, product comparisons etc. They can perform these, and list their finds and sources of information.

5. Social media management

Your VA can manage all your social media platforms. Which means that they can upload posts, add images, manage comments, among other things.

6. Documents

Anything from reports to presentations, quotes, invoices and any other type of document can all be consolidated by your virtual assistant.

7. Proofreading

It is always a good idea to get your documents checked over by another set of eyes. Your VA might not be a professional proofreader. Although, they can read through your documentation and look for errors that you may have missed.

8. Website Design

Virtual assistants don’t just do your admin, some of them specialise in website design, content writing, and SEO. If you require a new WordPress site or regular updates, these are tasks that you could outsource to the right VA.

9. Video Editing

Video editing is a very time-consuming task. Going through your videos and cutting and merging content can take up hours of your time. This is a good job to outsource to a VA.

10. Content Writing

Writing is something you either enjoy or don’t. Some of us are great at writing engaging content, and others just aren’t. If you dread writing content or it just isn’t something you have time to do regularly, you can outsource it to your virtual assistant.

The relationship – Virtual assistants for entrepreneurs

Your virtual assistant really can make life easier, and the sky is the limit. They can help you with a wide variety of tasks. As you build up a relationship with your assistant, they can become a big part of your team. Your VA will save you time, and in some cases, even money.

I believe that if you try working with a virtual assistant it will be a positive experience and one you won’t regret.

The Only 8 Apps and Services Needed to Delegate Almost Anything to a VA

The Only 8 Apps and Services Needed to Delegate Almost Anything to a VA

Learning to ‘let go’ and stop micromanaging your VAs is a skill that improves with time and practice. Using the right tools can make you feel more confident in delegating and hopefully speed up this process.

Below you will find the 8 apps and services that I use every day to safely and effectively delegate almost anything to my remote workers. This is my selection from years of trying to find the easiest, most simple and cost- effective apps and services for outsourcing. They are listed in the order that I could not live without, starting with the most important.

1. Techsmith Capture (formerly Jing)

Capture is free, easy to use and enables you to take screenshots and 5-minute videos and either copy, save or share them as URLs without having to worry about hosting as it’s all done for you and for free. The URL for the video/image is automatically saved to your clipboard, ready to be pasted into wherever you need it. This makes it one of the most user-friendly apps I know. Despite having a much more comprehensive screen-capture app (Screencast-o-Matic), I continue to use Capture every day as it is so simple, quick and easy to use.
Here’s where you can download it: https://www.techsmith.com/jing-tool.html

2. LastPass

LastPass is a cross-platform auto-password filler, form filler, and credit card safe. This app is a must-have for everyone who manages a remote team. It makes it effortless to share and revoke access to websites without ever revealing your password. All you need is the email address of the person you are sharing with.

Apart from sharing logins with your VAs, LastPass is one of the most time-saving apps I use. It enables me to have a different secure password for every site I use without having to remember what each one is. What’s more, since buying a phone with a fingerprint reader, I don’t have to type the password into login to LastPass on my phone!

Another useful feature is that it recognises when you have multiple accounts for a single website, e.g. webmail inboxes, and prompts you to select from a list each time you log in. Here’s where you can get LastPass: https://www.lastpass.com/.

3. Asana

Asana is a simple, but powerful task and project management app and works great for creating checklist and templates for your business’s operations manual. The free version has everything most people will need to collaborate with remote workers. It is also easily integrated with your calendar, mobile app, and cloud storage.

For me, the best thing about it is its ability to categorize all aspects of the business into a team, project, task, and subtasks. This, combined with Tagging, allows for effective, segmented communication with specific groups of people.

One of the unexpected benefits of using Asana is how infrequently I now use email. As all internal communications are now done via Asana, this keeps conversation threads and all associated files and folders out of my inbox and in a single location within Asana.

My email Inbox is managed by my PA, who messages me in Asana when I need to give my input on an email reply, meaning I rarely even open my emails anymore. This represents a massive time saving as I don’t waste time ‘getting lost’ or distracted in my email Inbox.

To learn more about Asana and create an account, head to https://www.asana.com.

4. Google Drive and Docs

With Google Drive, I can access all my files either online or offline (using the Desktop app). Every time the computer connects to the internet, the Desktop app syncs with the online Drive and vice versa. It also has amazing sharing capabilities as you can easily add and revoke access. There are also different levels of sharing files, e.g. view only access, edit access, changing ownership, etc.

One other nice feature is the ability to prevent viewers from downloading/printing or copying a document. I use this to ensure the latest version of my Operations Manuals is always being used. If you’re concerned about Intellectual Property theft, this makes it more difficult to rip-off your work.

For me, the best thing about Google Docs is its ability to allow multiple people to work simultaneously on the same document without ever getting conflicted copies. You can also modify documents in ‘Editing’ mode or ‘Suggesting’ mode, which is essential when mentoring your remote workers. The VA can then learn by reviewing the changes you have suggested.

Although most of these features are available on Microsoft 365, Google Docs and Google Drive and are both free, Google has been designed as an online service since day one, whereas Microsoft is playing catch up. I do still have both of these installed on my computer, but I rarely use Microsoft Office these days.

5. YouTube or Vimeo

We all know what YouTube is and what it does, but aside from entertainment purposes, YouTube is also a platform to upload and store all your business process video guides and training videos of any file size to share for free with anyone. This saves you from maxing out your cloud storage quota!

YouTube is totally free, and you can easily organise your videos into playlists and share by link or invitation based on your set restrictions. This is helpful especially when you need to revoke someone’s access, such as an ex-VA.

Vimeo is similar to YouTube but without the adverts! The free version of Vimeo isn’t quite as good as YouTube (you can’t share by a private link for example) but the ability to showcase your HD videos in a professional, ad-free environment makes the small monthly fee a no-brainer for me as an online educator.

If, however, the primary reason for publishing your videos is to grow a ‘fanbase’ and build your brand, then YouTube might be better for you. I use both.

6. PayPal for Business

You probably know that PayPal allows you to pay anyone, anywhere, for almost anything online direct from your PayPal balance, bank account or credit card. It’s also easy to use, integrates with WordPress and many other platforms you might be using as an online checkout and isn’t too expensive.
As most VAs in the Philippines have a PayPal account, it also makes it a great way to pay your remote team as you can pay in any currency you wish. The fees are minimal for these types of payments too.

What you may not be aware of, and where PayPal comes into its own, is when you set-up a business account (for free) and grant privileges to your VA depending on their role in the company. For example, my PA pays all my VAs’ wages each week. Therefore, she has the authority to ‘Make Payments’ but she can’t see my balance, withdraw money nor make any other changes to the account.

One limitation of the user-delegation is the inability for them to make online purchases on your behalf. However, by linking a business PayPal account to a prepaid bank-card (see next section below) and then sharing the login details through LastPass, you can allow your VA to safely make purchases for you, knowing that your risk exposure is limited to the balance on your prepaid card!

7. Prepaid Cards & PayPal

Business prepaid card (I use FairFX) allows you to delegate all online purchasing tasks to your VA, especially useful when PayPal is not available. Replenishing its funds is easily done by transferring money online from your credit card or debit card. I use a Google sheet on which my VAs to record all purchases and alert me when the balance is getting low so I can top-up. The reason why I prefer using a business prepaid account (as opposed to personal) is that I have multiple users, each with their own card, set-up on a single admin console. I have total control over the accounts and the cards are not all in my name!

As the cards are not directly linked to your bank account, they are totally safe to give to your remote workers as your risk is limited to the balance on the card. You can also combine one with a PayPal account (as described above).

8. Business Bank Accounts Delegate Users

With most Business Bank Accounts (I currently use HSBC), you can allow users to have restricted access to your account. This enables me to delegate payment of invoices by BACS transfer when credit cards or PayPal are not accepted (for example when paying a handyman!). You can easily check their activities online, limit funds usage, and set up alerts. I like that you have full control over spending limits and delegate authorisation to someone else, taking me out of the loop entirely!

I hope this article has given you some ideas on how to outsource more of your work by using these 8 apps and services, and has shown you some useful tools that will make the job that little bit easier!