12 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself

achieve A lot of my friends and clients always say to me you’re always so positive and nothing gets you down, actually that’s not entirely true, we all have bad times in our lives and some that are worse then others, but As Maria Robinson once said, “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”  Nothing could be closer to the truth.  But before you can begin this process of transformation you have to stop doing the things that have been holding you back.  These are some of the rules that I try to live my life by, whether it’s relating to my business , my family life or my writing  I cannot take credit for making them up, but i do try to follow them!

Here are some ideas to get you started:

Stop trying to be someone you’re not. – One of the greatest challenges in life is being yourself in a world that’s trying to make you like everyone else.  Someone will always be prettier, someone will always be smarter, someone will always be younger, but they will never be you.  Don’t change so people will like you.  Be yourself and the right people will love the real you.

Stop being scared to make a mistake. – Doing something and getting it wrong is at least ten times more productive than doing nothing.  Every success has a trail of failures behind it, and every failure is leading towards success.  You end up regretting the things you did NOT do far more than the things you did.

Stop spending time with the wrong people. – Life is too short to spend time with people who suck the happiness out of you.  If someone wants you in their life, they’ll make room for you.  You shouldn’t have to fight for a spot.  Never, ever insist yourself to someone who continuously overlooks your worth.  And remember, it’s not the people that stand by your side when you’re at your best, but the ones who stand beside you when you’re at your worst that are your true friends.

Stop trying to compete against everyone else. – Don’t worry about what others are doing better than you.  Concentrate on beating your own records every day.  Success is a battle between YOU and YOURSELF only.

Stop being jealous of others. – Jealousy is the art of counting someone else’s blessings instead of your own.  Ask yourself this:  “What’s something I have that everyone wants?”

Stop complaining and feeling sorry for yourself. – Life’s curveballs are thrown for a reason – to shift your path in a direction that is meant for you.  You may not see or understand everything the moment it happens, and it may be tough.  But reflect back on those negative curveballs thrown at you in the past.  You’ll often see that eventually they led you to a better place, person, state of mind, or situation.  So smile!  Let everyone know that today you are a lot stronger than you were yesterday, and you will be.

Stop acting like everything is fine if it isn’t. – It’s okay to fall apart for a little while.  You don’t always have to pretend to be strong, and there is no need to constantly prove that everything is going well.  You shouldn’t be concerned with what other people are thinking either – cry if you need to – it’s healthy to shed your tears.  The sooner you do, the sooner you will be able to smile again.

Stop blaming others for your troubles. – The extent to which you can achieve your dreams depends on the extent to which you take responsibility for your life.  When you blame others for what you’re going through, you deny responsibility – you give others power over that part of your life.

Stop trying to be everything to everyone. – Doing so is impossible, and trying will only burn you out.  But making one person smile CAN change the world.  Maybe not the whole world, but their world.  So narrow your focus.

Stop focusing on what you don’t want to happen. – Focus on what you do want to happen.  Positive thinking is at the forefront of every great success story.  If you awake every morning with the thought that something wonderful will happen in your life today, and you pay close attention, you’ll often find that you’re right.

Stop following the path of least resistance. – Life is not easy, especially when you plan on achieving something worthwhile.  Don’t take the easy way out.  Do something extraordinary.

Stop being ungrateful. – No matter how good or bad you have it, wake up each day thankful for your life.  Someone somewhere else is desperately fighting for theirs.  Instead of thinking about what you’re missing, try thinking about what you have that everyone else is missing.

Remember – When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you – Happy New Year to all my followers!

The Disaster of Negative Thinking

negative thinkingThe greatest scientists in the world are just beginning to scratch the surface when it comes to understanding what our minds are really capable of. The mind is so unbelievably powerful in ways we could never imagine. You and I don’t need to understand exactly how it works, we just need to take care of our minds and let the magic happen.

Our subconscious mind takes orders from our conscious mind. The subconscious mind doesn’t ask questions, it doesn’t differentiate between empowering thoughts and demoralizing thoughts. It just acts upon the thoughts that we think.

All outcomes and experiences in our lives are a direct result of our dominant mental thoughts. What we think, we become because our subconscious minds translate into reality our thought impulses. When we ask ourselves a demoralizing question like “Why does this always happen to me?” our subconscious minds go to work whether we realize it or not. How do you think it responds to a demoralizing question like that? You are brilliant, it answers it with a bunch of demoralizing answers. Its just like the computer you are reading. A computer’s output is based on its input. When a computer hacker tries to commit a cyber crime or steal someone’s identity, the computer doesn’t say it can’t do that because that’s illegal. It just performs what its user instructed it to do whether its legal or illegal.

Our subconscious minds act the same exact way a computer does. Its output is based on its input whether its a positive input or a negative input. Its not rocket science, if you want to change your output, you must change its input. The quality of your life is going to depend on the quality of your thoughts. The more empowering questions you ask your subconscious mind, the more empowered you will be. You must understand that the dominate thoughts of your mind will eventually manifest into the real world. Buddha said, “We are shaped by our thoughts. We become what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world. The next time you want to let a negative thought or a demoralizing question enter your precious mind, be careful what you ask for because you are eventually going to get it.

Use incredible thoughts to manifest an incredible life. Your life will follow your thoughts. If you think it and believe it, your subconscious mind will make you achieve it. Take your passion and make it happen.

The Single Best Time Management Tip Ever

time mgmntMost of us spend our lives at war with time–and time usually wins.  We’ve all read books and some of us have taken several courses on the subject as well, and, for the most part the books and courses seem to rehash the same common sense. But still, the feeling of being overwhelmed and under-productive is constant.

The big breakthrough came after I had read an article written by a teacher whose student had severe dyslexia and had asked for help.  Not knowing what to do, the teacher turned to an expert on learning disorders, and was advised to let the student take the exam in the teachers office, giving him short breaks every 20 minutes.  The student did very well, and surprised and intrigued by this the teacher went on to develop a technique known as the Multiple Put down Technique.

Having read his article, I’ve used this technique myself on any project I’ve worked on and it works!

How does it work?

The most important thing to remember about this technique is that the gold is in the details, so follow the instructions exactly.  No matter what project or task you decide to work on, make sure to work the  task in 20-minute increments, with absolute focus, and then put it down, over and over, until you’re done, in order to do this properly make sure to:

  • Alert your brain that a task is coming that will require its recall, creativity, and brilliance (yes, your brain is brilliant).  Then let some time pass–maybe, a day.
  • When you’re ready to start, set a timer for 20 minutes, such as the stopwatch feature on a smart phone.  Set your mobile phone to airplane mode, turn off your email, and silence all other distractions.  Then hit start on the timer.
  • During the 20 minutes, you must focus on that task without interruption. And unless the building burns down, do nothing but work on that task until the timer goes off.  You may hit the wall, but keep going.  The vast majority of people find they can work on that task “in the zone” until the timer goes off.
  • After 20 minutes, you have a choice: keep working or take a break.  If you keep working, reset the timer to 20 minutes and go through the process again without interruption until the next 20 minutes are up.  If you decide to take a break, it can be short (such as refilling your coffee cup), medium (returning a phone call) or long (going into a meeting, or working out).

That’s it.  You pick it up and put down over and over, hence the name “Multiple Put Down.”  Reports show from the thousands of people who have learned the technique is that you are much more efficient–often finishing a task in 30-50% of the time it would take if you worked on it in one sitting.

Even better, the quality of the work is far superior than if you followed your mother’s advice of “start early and just get it done.”  There are other benefits, too: less stress, reduced frustration, and a general feeling of being brilliant!

There are several advantages to the Multiple Put Down technique.  The first is that your brain is brilliant at running processes in the background, but is awful at multitasking.  While you’re driving to work, in the shower or answering email, your brain will be working in the background on the task, so that when you’re ready, it’ll drain through your fingers, into your computer or notepad, for about 20 minutes.  The break allows your brain to restock the supply of brilliance.  Each time you go through the process is a “productivity unit.”

Here are some tasks that are perfectly suited for Multiple Put Down: writing a report, preparing a pitch for a client or boss, figuring out how to solve a tough problem.

Here’s my challenge to you: right now, take a task that’s nagging at you and use Multiple Put Down on it.  I hope you’ll share how it goes by posting a comment below.

Customer Service Is Not a Marketing Strategy

cus. serv.A few weeks ago as I sat down to put my marketing plan into place for my business for 2013 I started to look at the services I was offering and what it meant to my customers.  I was looking for that angle that would help me differentiate my business from my competitors.  I thought about my existing customers and what they have wrote about my business in the past or just what many of them said to me in the course of our conversations and decided they all said the same thing,

 

their customers were getting excellent service and they had peace of mind, so when I put my marketing campaign together I had many different campaigns all ready to go, and all had the same message, we give excellent customer service.

Then I started looking at some of my competitor’s and guess what? They all had the same thing!  I subsequently ended up spending some time doing  research and I came up with a startling revelation!  Many different businesses out there are sending the same message!  So I thought to myself are we all lacking in that creativity to come up with something unique to sell our business, and as such is the phrase or variations of the phrase “we offer great customer service”  a point to differentiate ourselves from our competitors.  Well guess what?  It’s not.

These kinds of statements are so overused; they are the marketing equivalent of wallpaper, i.e. they are designed to be ignored.  Everybody claims to serve customers well, but not all companies actually do.  So not only do you have an identical point of difference, with your competitors, well….nobody believes you!

Great service is defined by the person receiving the service, not the server. Two people may experience the same service, and one will walk away totally captivated while the other is completely underwhelmed.  So what one person considers being pushy another person might consider attentive.

In fact, the business is the only entity that should never claim to offer great customer service; this can only work if others put that label on you. The moment you claim it yourself, you come off sounding desperate — or just boring.

 So what do we do about it?

Find something that meets two criteria: (1) it makes you unique, and (2) customers care about it.

It’s true that customers care about the service they get, but because everyone claims great service and there is no universal agreement on what it looks like, it’s not differentiating. To find a point of differentiation, you need to go a level deeper. Ask yourself what you do in tangible, concrete terms that make your service better than your competitors’. For example:

Enterprise Rent-A-Car does not claim to provide “great customer service;” it offers to “come and pick you up,” which is a concrete and tangible way it differentiates its service level from that of Hertz.

In a crowded hyper-competitive market, it may be something very small and subtle that makes you unique. That’s OK, as long as it is truly yours and your customers care. For example, if you ask a staff member at a Ritz-Carlton Hotel for directions, he will not point toward your destination; he will accompany you there. Guests — often late and lost in a new city — tell friends about the Ritz because of the experience they receive, not because the hotel talks about great service.

So stop saying you offer great customer service. It’s not doing you any favors. Figure out what it is about your service — in concrete, tangible terms — that customers value and start talking about that.

How Not to Multi Task

In this age of instant technology, we are bombarded with an overload of information and demands of our time.  Most of us are usually working on two projects at once when new ones are placed on our desks and to add to this we’re on the phone to someone who has a million questions about something and three new emails have just come in.

Before you know it you are juggling tasks with a speed worthy of Super Mario!  Congratulations, multi-tasker.

 

 

This week’s post is not about being more efficient in your multi-tasking, instead, I’m going to do the opposite – I’m going to show you how not to multi task!

Recent research shows that multitasking can make us less efficient instead of more so and it can be hard to identify when you’re multitasking. But there are a few key indicators you can look for:

If you have several pages or tabs open on your computer, then you’re probably multitasking. The same goes for your desk – if you have several file folders or papers out that you’re working on, you might well be multitasking.

Multitasking is more likely when you’re working on a project or task you’re not excited about. For instance, creating a spread sheet analysis might be an unwelcome task, so you might frequently check your email or do some research on a new assignment in order to lessen the pain of the current task.

Frequent interruptions can also cause you to multitask. For instance, you might be writing your Business’ budget when a colleague comes into your office with a question for you. You then carry on trying to tinker with the budget as you answer their question.

 

How to Stop Multitasking

If we want to improve the quality of our work, lower our stress levels, and become more efficient, then we need get out of the multitasking habit. Below are some suggestions to help you cut back on multitasking:

Plan your day in blocks. Set specific times for returning calls, answering emails, and doing research.

Manage your interruptions. Keep a log showing who interrupts you the most, and how urgent the requests are. Once you’ve compiled a week’s worth of interruptions, politely but assertively approach your colleagues with a view to managing and reducing their interruptions.

Learn how to improve your concentration so you can focus properly on one task at a time. Doing this may feel awkward at first if you frequently multitask. But you’ll be surprised at how much you get done just by concentrating on one thing at a time.

Every time you go to check your email or take a call when you’re actually supposed to be doing something else, take a deep breath and resist the urge. Focus your attention back to what you’re supposed to be doing.

If you get an audible or visual alert when emails come in, turn it off. This can help you avoid the temptation to check your inbox whenever you get new mail.

Whenever you find yourself multitasking, stop. Take five minutes to sit quietly at your desk with your eyes closed. Even short breaks like this can refocus your mind, lower your stress levels, and improve your concentration. Plus it can give your brain a welcome break during a hectic day.

There will be times when something urgent comes up and you can’t avoid interruptions. But instead of trying to multitask through these, stop and make a note of where you left your current task. Record any thoughts you had about how to move forward. Then deal with the immediate problem, before going back to what you were doing. This way you’ll be able to handle both tasks well, and you’ll leave yourself with some clues to help you restart the original task more quickly.

If you find your mind wandering when you should be focusing on something else, you need to guide your thoughts back to what you are doing by putting yourself in the moment. For example, you might be sitting in an important team meeting, but thinking about a speech you’ll be giving soon. Tell yourself, “I am in this meeting, and need to focus on what I’m learning here.” Often, acknowledging the moment can help keep you focused.

Remember it’s important, for your mental health, your sanity, and your productivity. You simply cannot be at your most effective if you are running around, putting out fires, and getting over stressed because of it. Taking the time to gain that control will make all the difference in the world.  If you find it very difficult to do this, consider outsourcing some tasks, it’s less for you to deal with.  Contact us if you think we can help: info@virtualoffices.ie. 

Chasing Overdue Invoices

Did you know that small firms spend up to 130 hours each year chasing overdue invoices? That’s two working weeks.

Over and over again in the last few years, I’ve been hearing how frustrated my clients are with customers who are very slow to pay or who don’t pay at all.

Overdue invoices have a huge impact on the wellbeing of a small business and it can really sour our relationships with our clients. But it doesn’t have to be that way. I’m going to give you some top tips to help you persuade your clients to pay – the stress free way.

1.        Don’t be Afraid to Ask

It’s your money. If you’ve done the job right, you’re entitled to be paid!  There’s no stigma attached to chasing small monies, and getting tough is no longer seen as petty or weak. If anything, it shows your clients that you’re efficient and worth paying for.

2.       Put a Process in Place

Even if you’re a one-person company, you must create clearly defined processes for dealing with late payments. Chasing money is time-consuming, but these processes will keep you sane – and profitable.

3.       Contact the Client Immediately

Contact the client directly on the day payment becomes overdue. Try not to use email — a telephone call or face-to-face meeting is far more effective. During your conversation, check that they’re satisfied with your work. Establish whether they have a problem paying and agree a payment schedule. Often, the client may simply have been away or has forgotten and will pay you immediately.

4.       Nudge the Client Harder

If you’re still not being paid, contact the person directly responsible for paying invoices. If payment is considerably delayed, write a formal letter stating a date when late fees and interest will start to accrue. Most countries have statutory interest rates for overdue payments. In Ireland it’s 7% per annum, 8% in the UK and US states vary between 6% and 10% per annum.

5.       Accept the Inevitable

If negotiations break down, write a letter stating that the client is in breach of contract (verbal agreements are still legally-binding in most countries) and you have no choice but to withdraw your services. Don’t make empty threats; be prepared to start legal proceedings.

6.        Never complain

Don’t discuss a non-paying client to others — especially on social networks. It’s not professional and is unlikely to result in a positive outcome. Never use aggressive language or start making threats. You may laugh, but last year, I spoke to someone who threatened to break a client’s legs!

If you can’t chase clients yourself, there’s always an alternative – outsourcing.

Please feel free to contact me at: info@virtualoffices.ie, to see how we can help you with your credit management. We’ll let your clients know that you mean business.

The Perfect Answer

One of the main compliments that I always get from my customers and business colleagues is that both my staff and I have a very professional telephone answering voice and always sound very professional and also friendly when answering our calls.  I have always found it to be very important when dealing with our client, or clients of clients as it’s a crucial element to winning customers and building business relationships.

Even with all of the new ways to communicate these days, the telephone is still a primary means of communication in business and the way that you answer a call will form your customer’s first impression of both you and your business.

Here are a few of my top telephone answering tips to ensure that you’re presenting yourself—and your business–in a professional manner, all the time!

  1. Always answer a call promptly
  2. Answer the phone in a professional and pleasant manner, and with a smile. Be enthusiastic. People can feel it or hear it on the other end.
  3. When answering an office phone, welcome callers by introducing yourself and your organization. For instance, ““Good Morning/Afternoon, The Virtual Office, Samantha speaking.” If you’re answering a personal mobile phone, a simple, “Good morning, xxx speaking,” is appropriate.
  4. Speak slowly and clearly when answering the phone so that the caller can understand you. Keep your voice at a moderate level. No one likes to be yelled at.
  5. If you’re answering a phone with multiple lines, be sure to ask the caller if it’s all right for you to place him/her on hold BEFORE you do so. Provide callers who are on hold with an update every 30 to 45 seconds and offer them choices if possible. “That line is busy, would you like to continue to hold or would you like to leave a message for Mr. Smith?”
  6. If you are taking the call from your office never use speakerphone to answer an incoming call. This will give the caller the immediate impression that you’re not fully engaged with them.
  7. If you use an answering machine to catch those calls you can’t get to, make certain that you record a professional message that includes an introduction (just as if you were answering the phone). This will ensure that the caller knows he has reached the right person and avoid any confusion.

Good telephone manners go a long way. Following these few tips will ensure that you leave a positive impression with business contacts (so that they call back!).

If you feel that you would like to have your very own professional telephone answering service to represent your business then why not contact us today on 051 351286 or email us: info@virtualoffices.ie

Why not speak to us about our new 1 week free trial on our telephone answering service!

Why choose a Virtual Office?

Today business people need a smart efficient solution that will not only give their business a professional image and the tools to focus on increasing their bottom line rather than having to worry about the day to day running of an office. So the concept of virtual offices is fast becoming a worldwide phenomenon and that Holy Grail solution that businesspeople have been searching for.

For businesses and entrepreneurs setting up an office can take months, plus there’s the costs of hiring staff, finding furniture and that complicated task of trying to work out the hassle of setting up the internet, telephone and other technology.  Not to mention the task and cost of training the new staff. By signing up for a Virtual Office clients can skip all this and are literally ready within minutes to focus on making their business a success.

The opportunities with the Virtual Office are what can set your business apart from the rest. Whether it’s a local business you’re running or are looking to expand your business nationally or even gain access to an international market, business people can have a local address, local phone number, local support team and a professional presence in any market!

For help to focus on making your business a success why not contact us at the Virtual Office to see how we can give you your very own professional presence that will set you apart from your competition, e-mail Samantha: info@virtualoffices.ie or contact us on 051 351286

3 ACTIONS TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS

It goes without saying that you want your business to be stable, with fewer outgoings and more profit. That’s what business is all about. How can you actually go about achieving this Holy Grail? It’s easier than you think. Just follow The Virtual Office’s three-step action plan.

PLAN ~ When you’re full of excitement about your business, it’s easy to rush in. BEFORE taking action, step back and get the “blimp perspective“. Blimps, such as the Goodyear Blimp, give you a full aerial view of a city or a venue like a stadium, which you otherwise would not see. If you apply the blimp view to your business, you’ll be able to figure out:

1. Where you have come from
2. Where you are now
3. Where you want to go in the future

Planning will give you that perspective. It’s essential to use all the knowledge that you have gained about running a successful company to map out the future course of your business. You’ll have the freedom to see many potential roadblocks, opportunities and true possibilities.

DO ~ Now is the time to bring your plans to life. There is no substitute for taking action on your plans. Many entrepreneurs regularly purchase programs but fail to implement what they have learned. It’s not enough just to purchase the latest shiny equipment. Action is the key that unlocks the door to business success.

REVIEW ~ Now it’s time to ask yourself some questions. Did you reach your goals? How close were you to your targets? What did you omit from the planning or action steps? What would you adjust, cut out or include? Reviewing and measuring your results will enable you to gather your Success Data. This is the information that shows you what you’re doing right. And if you know that, you’ll keep doing it.

You can keep applying this 3-step plan throughout the life of your business. So until next time, be sure to Plan, Do and Review.

THE MAGIC PILL FOR SMALL BUSINESS SUCCESS

ImageAdvertising culture has ingrained in us the notion that we can get what we want – now. Get Rich Quick books promise us instant success in our business. There is a magic pill you can swallow that will help your business grow beyond your wildest dreams. It’s a tried and tested formula. It’s called hard work.

Doing the work is the only way to achieve your business goals. There’s no easy way out. There are two obstacles you’ll have to conquer if you want to put the work in.

Laziness. It’s human nature to want to take the easy way out. Say you need to learn about a new piece of software to grow your business. The lazy part of you will scream in protest at the thought of the extra time and effort you’re going to have to put in to master it. And yes, at first, it’s going to take longer for you to get things done. But if you can take the time and learn the hard lesson, you’ll reap the rewards, as the technology makes your business easier to manage – and grow. Also, don’t be afraid to stretch your mind and go to networking meetings, or read books that are relevant to your field. We promise it’ll be more stimulating than the telly.

Discouragement: It’s the nature of business that you’ll face disappointment on a regular basis: a loss of a client, not meeting a goal, a financial setback. When these happen, it’s easy to wonder what’s the point and you start to lose your enthusiasm. When it happens, just keep working. Keep creating new opportunities. Keep your eye on your goal. This’ll lessen your disappointment and keep you motivated.

There is no substitute for the magic pill of hard work. Are you ready to swallow it?