I am a great virtual assistant...and a terrible business person.
Over the past eleven plus years I’ve been doing this, numerous people along the way have pointed out everything I’m doing wrong in my business. It runs the gamut of problems, but they can mostly be broken down into these 4 points:
WARNING: This post is not for the faint of heart.
In the 11+ years that I have been assisting businesses, I have had the pleasure of coming in contact with some amazing, brilliant, talented, wonderful people. I learn about new businesses. I learn about the lives of others. I learn about struggles and joys.
I am lucky.
And for the most part, the positivity train just keeps rolling on and I’m happy to be riding on it.
But then, occasionally, someone crosses my path that completely derails my good mood and happy outlook.
I have done a lot of customer service for clients over the years, and every once in a while, someone pops up in an email or a voicemail that is just…well, you know.
Here is a recent email I received in an email box I monitor, censored, of course.
SUBJECT: FXXX OFF YOU FXXXXXXX CXXX FACE
You fxxxxxx maggots, I have not signed up for these emails, I have not authorised 3rd parties to provide my email address to you fxxxxxx and you are obtaining this illegally. I am tired of you fxxxxxx gutless xxxxxxx junking my inbox. Please note you useless piece of dog xxxx and brain fxxxxxx that your emails are being reported to all possible spam web sites. I hope over the course of today your head gets slammed by a passing truck and you get SPAMMED to hell - till then have the worst fxxxxxx day possible that you cxxxx deserve. DROP DEAD YOU FXXXXXX CXXXX, I am so sick of your fxxxxxx trash!!
Let’s let that sink in for a moment.
Someone, somewhere was so angry at receiving an email (that he actually filled out a form to receive), and so angry that he received the ONE email from us that he requested, that he felt it necessary to write an email so vile that if his mother saw it she might just faint on the spot.
Listen. There is a real person at the end of that email that you are sending. There is a real person who will listen to your voicemail that you’re leaving. And they may have absolutely NOTHING to do with a problem you’re currently having. But, if you address them in a fashion that is kind and appropriate, they will be your champion in order to get your problem solved quickly and easily.
Electronic communication has been fantastic for immediate response. It’s great! And it has also become a terrible, faceless way to say whatever you want without the repercussions of seeing how you’ve made a person feel. It shouldn’t be that way, in business or personally.
The sad part is, this isn’t the first type of email or voicemail I’ve received like this, and it definitely won’t be the last.
The next time you’re fuming about someone and are ready to shoot off an email with more expletives than a Quentin Tarantino film, put your mom’s email in the BCC field and then try to click Send. If you can’t, start over and remember there’s a real person on the end of that email.
It was around 10:30 on a Saturday night and I was looking for some new software. Yes, that is my excitement for a Saturday night!
I came across a website that sold software that fit what I needed. I was browsing, did a slight scroll down, and read the big sale statement. And right there, in an exceptionally large font size - a spelling error. A very glaring error.
Some people would not have noticed. Those that would see it would just ignore it.
But not me.
I can’t move beyond it. So I do the only thing that I can do. I send them an email and point out the error.
And it strikes me as a bit funny. Because this is something I’ve done my whole life. And honestly, it usually isn’t met with much gladness by others. No one likes to have their mistakes pointed out.
Last month I emailed another website. They were selling a course, but the expiration date had already passed. Again, I emailed and let them know they needed to update it.
I’m not trying to be mean or critical. It’s just what I do. If there’s a mistake, I want to see it fixed. And I realize that people are busy and rushed, and those two things are a combination for making errors. We all get to that point.
And for these websites I come across, they’re going to get emails from me, and they are not going to like me.
But, if you’re one of my clients, you’re going to love that I do this. Because I’m going to do everything I can to make sure you look your best.
It’s that time of year again. We buy a new jogging outfit, upload plenty of uplifting tunes to our mp3 players, buy a few gallons of skim milk, and pledge a lifetime of fitness. But what about pledging some business fitness as well?
Sure, I’ll be working harder this year to make friends with my treadmill, but I’m really in the mood to bulk up my business muscle. Therefore, I’m posting my business resolutions for 2013. (Because everyone tells me it makes you more accountable if you let people know your resolutions!)
2013 Your Gal Friday Business Resolutions
Acquire a new workspace
Working from home can make you lax. It’s so easy to be mobile and eventually you find yourself curled up on the couch rather than sitting at a desk or table with your laptop. I’ve been having shoulder issues, so sitting upright at the right spot seems to be the answer. I jumped ahead and filled this resolution. Here’s my new focus point where you’ll find me working throughout the day. (Thanks Craigslist!)
Make a Schedule
Businesses online always have high hopes for blogging more, tweeting more and just generally “getting the word out” more. I’m now on a schedule. We’ll, let’s say I have a schedule, and I’ve followed it for the past four days.
Reach out More
How many networking events did you go to last year? How much advertising did you buy? How much time did you spend volunteering under the name of your business? It’s time to get out there and meet people, shake hands, say hello, and see what’s going on in the world away from my new desk!
Don’t worry – I’m always reading your emails. I’m talking about those that I sign up for. Newsletters, business tips, etc. Why do I sign up for them if I’m not going to read them? I’m making it a point to read, to learn and maybe even comment!
Business can’t be so serious all the time. And we can’t be all business all the time either. Remember to take a step back, go out to eat, meet friends and play games.
What business resolutions do you have?
Recently I took a trip to a local grocery store to stock up my kitchen. I proceeded to the checkout where I always face a bit of a dilemma. I can check myself out, which means I catch all the price problems and pack my groceries how I like them. However, it also means the store gets free labor from me! So, I decide to go through a regular checkout.
I wait for several minutes while the woman in front of me finishes. Then I move up. I am greeted. “hellohowareyoutoday” It’s hard to affect the right tone – but think of the most flat, dull, monotonous voice you can and then mumble that sentence out loud in that voice. This is how I was greeted. Products scanned, bagged, paid for and then the closing: “thankyouhaveaniceday.”
I realize that being a cashier isn’t a glamorous job. I know. I used to be a cashier at a grocery store long ago (when scanners didn’t exist!). I realize that there are plenty of jobs out there that are less than exciting. They make your feet hurt, they put you in contact with grumpy people, they keep you away from your family. But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take pride in yourself and your job.
The lack of enthusiasm for what we do is very noticeable to those around us. Our bosses know it. Our customers know it. Our co-workers know it. Your job may not be your dream, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it well. Every action you take is a reflection on you. Do a poor job and people think you’re a poor worker. Do a great job at even the most menial of tasks, and you are recognized for the good work you do. Be proud of every task you undertake because it is important.
"If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music, sweep streets like Leontyne Price sings before the Metropolitan Opera. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well."
~Martin Luther King Jr.
25+ years of business experience. 12+ years of virtual experience.