The easiest way of organising contacts, in order that you can use the data effectively (besides your customer contact information), is by recording them using either a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, an Access Database or something like Act! By entering your contacts in an Excel spreadsheet, for example, this then gives you the flexibility to quickly transfer the information into applications such as Mail Chimp, SentOutCards, etc., relatively quickly so that you can send e-mail campaigns and the like.
You need a relatively small amount of information with regard to each contact. Namely: name, date of birth, address fields, telephone number(s) and e-mail address. If you are a collector of business cards, who simply puts the cards in the corner of your office, this is the perfect way to capture the information of all the people you meet so that you can stay in touch with them, on a regular basis, in the future. Sitting in a pile, this information just really isn’t working for you and makes it pointless taking the card in the first place if you are not going to do something with this information!
If you are reading this and thinking you simply do not have the time to enter all this information then, perhaps, it is time for you to take the ‘bull by the horns’ and hire a Virtual Office Assistant (VA). If you haven’t come across this term before, a VA is someone who is, generally, self-employed and provides professional administrative, technical and/or creative (social) assistance to clients remotely from their own home office or some are happy to go to your place of work. They are not an employee and typically have more than one client.
There are many benefits of hiring a VA:
- You pay them only for the actual time they spend working on your business.
- They are usually highly trained so need very little supervision.
- They tend to work from their own home, using their own equipment/utilities so it saves your business the cost of providing these things.
- As they work on a self-employed basis the responsibility of paying any tax or NI falls upon the VA.
- They free-up you time to concentrate on more important aspects of your business rather than paperwork.
- Save you money as you only pay for the hours they work for you
What they can do to help:
- Event planning
- Assist with marketing/publicity
- Help with your website and search engine optimization (SEO) – if skilled to this
- Typing, editing and proofreading, on your behalf
- Organising contacts/updating your database
- Carry-out your bookkeeping/billing requirements
- Make appointments/manage your diary
When choosing a VA, it is a good idea to ask around and find one by personal recommendation so that you have a testimonial of their working practices.
Remember, once you have entered all your data, or got your VA to do it on your behalf, you also need to ensure that you back this data up in order to protect it if one of your cloud-based systems should fail.
I hope this post has made you stop and think and helped you in realising the importance of capturing your data in order to grow your business.
Until next time,