Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Managing Stress - Part Two

Time management is an essential factor in managing stress. Often the feeling that you don't have enough time in the day increases your stress levels before you've even started.

If you manage your energy, attention and commitments you create an effective daily management of tasks leaving you feeling more focused.

Mark Walsh shared his top tips for successful time management on BusinessZone.co.uk.

Here is my adaptation:
1. The first step is to record and analyse how you spend your time for a week. This includes times when your energy levels slump and times when you are most productive or creative.

2. Next make a list. One list of everything you want to do from 'call the hairdressers' to 'write blog on stress management'. With everything you want to do on the list you are less likely to be distracted by other matters not listed. If there are time-sensitive items on it, set an impeccably reliable reminder system - high or low tech (a Blackberry alarm or a laundry basket in front of your door to remind you to do the washing for example). If you are on the move Mark suggests a colour system based on locations such as 'Computer', 'Computer no net', 'With secretary', 'In town', 'On phone – private', 'On phone – public', etc.

3. I always include a wish list, important things you need to do or read for long-term development or inspiration but that are not urgent. Preferably with a expected time scale so when you know you have a period of time before a meeting or on the train you can fit them in.

4. Don't make the list a must-do-today list as other stuff will always come up pushing things off the list and onto the next day which can leave you disheartened. It's better to have one overall evolving time management. list including sacred time for important

5. Empty your email inbox using the framework
- 'do it (less than 2 min),
- drop it (not important),
- delegate it or defer it (with time frame and reminder)' method.
Differentiate between reference/storage and 'to do' areas and don't use one for the other.

6. Unfortunately multi-tasking is often only dividing attention and switching quickly between tasks. This is an ineffective way of working causing you to make mistakes and need to repeat things. Often switching your mind from one job to another will make you less efficient. Where possible do one thing at a time and chunk together similar tasks in a given period

7. Do the hardest most important thing first to get your day going and give you a sense of satisfaction that you can do anything with your day.

8. And finally, relax. Sounds simple but a five minute walk around the block, just a few seconds breathing and clearing your head or just listening to an upbeat song will really help.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Managing Stress - Part One

According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development time off through stress has increased, with the recession blamed for elevated stress levels.

Factors such as extra workload, worries about company reorganisations and domestic problems have led to higher levels of anxiety and depression, employers reported.
The research also found that more employees were struggling into work even when they were ill, because of concerns about losing their jobs.

But how do you manage stress & strain if you cannot take a day off? As a business owners or entrepreneurs it can be a lonely existence where no one is available to share the strain of your business struggle. As Julie Meyer recently said, in an interview with StartupTV, running your own business is not glamorous but requires you to be 'obsessed and addicted' to succeed in order to continue when times are hard. Such obsession can be overwhelming for anyone.

Business solutions, like The Virtual Office, can relieve some of the immediate pressure by providing administrative support and managing your telephone calls allowing you to get your head down and finish projects or to take a well deserved day (or two) holiday.

Although some find it hard to justify such as service, for less than the cost of a sandwich you can get some R&R making you more productive and more focused when you return.

There are also many online tools and communities available to help entrepreneurs feel less isolated such as Enterprise Nation and UK Business Forums. However you cannot underestimate the importance of networking groups such as Sister Snog and Business Junction for sharing experiences and building relationships with like-minded individuals. Discussing your business situation or just having a chat with people who are in the same boat with the similar worries can be reassuring.

To quote Julie Meyer, there are lots of 'other people climbing the mountain'.

Let's help each other to the summit.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Five obstacles for the small business owner to overcome

Entrepreneurs are the foundation of any economy and have been around since there was profit to be made. However Rome wasn't built in a day and the company founder didn't start out working from a top floor, corner office. All entrepreneurs have obstacles that need to be solved.
Below are some points gathered from successful businesses for you to consider.

  • New businesses need capital
    The rule of thumb is that the entrepreneur should have access to a sum of money at least equal to the projected revenue of their first year plus anticipated expenses. Without this sum, a new business runs a high risk of failure.

  • Costs of Marketing
    It's no secret that traditional forms of marketing can be quite expensive. However, with the evolution of social media marketing, marketing and promotion are easier cheaper and arguably more effective thanks to the wide and integrated audience at one's disposal. A company website has the ability to project a business owner's vision with companies operating from a bedroom able to look as competent, and often more professional, than larger corporations!

  • Juggling priorities
    Things go wrong and multiple small tasks need to be completed. Whatever the business, the phone needs answering, the printer needs mending, the post needs sending, and the clients have to be invoiced. Whereas in a big office there is an employee for every role, working from home means answering every call and dealing with admin as much as building the business. Expect this and either budget the time or calculate how much this is costing you and outsource where possible.

  • Starbucks is not ideal
    The struggle for the small or one person business is to appear credible against larger more established competitors. An account with a virtual office offers access to meeting rooms, receptionists, admin support and more on a pay-per-service basis. It projects a professional image for a new business economically.

  • Fear of the unknown
    Choosing an unknown name presents risks for the buyer if things go wrong so you will need to build relationships and a trustworthy reputation. Monitoring feedback enables you to respond promptly and show growth. Unique selling points, case studies and testimonials can all help.
Successful entrepreneurs will admit to having faced a variety of obstacles along the way. In fact they take pride in having overcome those obstacles. Success in business is a process. There is no beginning and end. There will always be hurdles to overcome. Don't feel discouraged. Running a small business has a lot of advantages, so hang tight. With patience, creativity and resourcefulness, that big mountain will soon look like a little bump.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Five questions to ask yourself before you start your small business

Starting a business is a daunting and exciting prospect. Before you jump in here are some questions to ask yourself:

1. What do I enjoy doing?

Consider what you love to do, your passions and skills. It will be your passion that drives you forward through the tough times when you are building your business.

2. Can I improve on current offerings?

Look at the current market and evaluate your future competitors. Develop and define a unique selling point for your business whether it's a personal mission statement, green ethics or innovation.

3. Is there a gap in the market that I can exploit?

Maybe you have tried to find a service or product that just doesn't seem to exist. If you are looking for something it is possible that others are too. Research the idea and potential market thoroughly and gauge how much people would be prepared to pay for it.

4. Does my business have a niche market? And how do I access them?

If you can find a niche market for your business then this can reduce the barriers to entry by reducing competition. However consider how you are going to access the niche market and it's potential for growth.

5. Am I making all possible profit from my business idea without compromising the delivery and my ideals?

Consider other ways to deliver your service or knowledge, online, in print or in person. Also, if your website performs well, can you make extra money from advertising or paid for content. Make sure all actions are consistent with your brand and don't diverge from your ideals.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Back to School, Back to Work

As the new school term starts we can all get back to concentrating fully on our business.

To help you get back in the swing of things The Virtual Office are offering a fantastic deal on meeting rooms.

Buy one hour get one hour free on all meeting rooms at all 3 of our excellent central London locations until 30th September 2010.

Just give us a call on 020 7917 9922 or email at info@voffice.com mentioning this offer.

For more information on all our meeting rooms visit www.voffice.com/london-meeting-rooms/

Monday, 2 August 2010

Take a Complete Holiday

For many small businesses and business owners the summer holidays are less a holiday, more the ultimate test in juggling priorities.

Taking a real holiday can mean a choice between missing important telephone calls or answering the client's call whilst on a family picnic. Neither ideal and both applying additional pressure to your time and resources.

So you end up not spending quality time with your family and potentially damaging client relationships.

The Virtual Office offers a temporary telephone answering solution that can relieve your stress and allow you to relax.

Simply divert your business telephone to The Virtual Office and our receptionists will answer your business calls in your company name and manage your client calls for you.

Our unified voicemail will alert you to messages and allow you to check them at your convenience.

If you are expecting very important calls, these calls can be introduced and transferred to you. No need to answer every call just in case. The added benefit is that you have a moment to move your brain back to business, before speaking with your client.

So enjoy a well deserved break - safe in the knowledge that your calls are being answered efficiently and professionally by our receptionists - for the day, the week or the month.

Visit www.voffice.com or call us on 0207 917 2917 to find out more.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

How do these changes effect your business?

General opinions of the Mr Osborne's budget are that it recognises the role of small businesses in the continued growth of the economy. The internationally competitive Capital Gains Tax and reduction in Corporation Tax for small businesses both encourage entrepreneurism.

However there are mixed responses to the new immigration laws introducing further restrictions on the number of skilled Non-EU workers entering Britain.
The Virtual Office team is reliant on International English speakers in creating a uniform voice with no regional dialects for our clients. Our small team currently includes British, South African, Australian and Canadian all with excellent telephone voices and extensive customer service experience.

How will this change effect your small business? Do you see it as a positive step to increasing British employment or damaging to your business?

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

It's not where you work, it's how you work

Online articles for new businesses and entrepreneurs often emphasise the pro and cons of home working and home offices disregarding the fact that many entrepreneurs are constantly mobile. Their average day is rarely typical and often rely on smart phones and instant messaging to manage their business day.

To succeed as a mobile entrepreneur requires effective daily management and organisation whilst focusing on your clients and business needs. the growth in
Virtual Offices can be explained by the number of businesses performing this juggling act.

telephone answering plus administrative and secretarial duties can free up time to concentrate. Many virtual office companies also have bricks and mortar locations for you to meet clients or pitch for new business, removing the need for business insurance or provision of additional space at your home.

Depending on your business the benefits of presenting an impressive business address via a
Virtual Office (incorporating mail forwarding and a central ‘0207’ telephone prefix) may be a crucial component of a business plan and this value may outweigh the monthly costs.

However with such variety in quality there are a few questions to ask yourself to ensure the virtual office you choose will represent your business appropriately for many years.

1. How do you feel about clients knowing where you live and having access to your home number or mobile?
Consider whether an 0207 telephone number with a
live virtual receptionist would help you manage your day by screening out time wasters and allowing you to focus on your business.

2. Do you need to project a professional image from the start or is this an aspect that can be deferred until your business is more secure? Is
a business address going to help secure clients?
Some virtual office providers allow you to pick the services you need and add and remove as your requirements change. Check the terms for this, can you only do it at the end of your contract? If you want to reduce your services are the terms different.

There are some budget virtual office providers in the market that may suit your current requirements of simply an address for your website but consider all the future trajectories you can take your business. Visit the location of the virtual address, meet the staff handling your mail and telephone calls, inspect the reception area, meeting rooms and the areas that interest you now and in the future.

3. Is your plan to one day have a physical office?
If it is make sure the virtual office you have chosen can offer
office space and check the flexibility of the terms. This will allow you to keep the same contact details and, if the office doesn't work out you can go 'virtual' again with no drama or inconvenience.

4. Do you ever need to meet your clients face-to-face either now or in the future?
You and your current clients might be happy to use free coffee shops at the moment but consider your prospective clients and how they will perceive your company. Also if you choose a virtual office with a business address then you may prefer the consistency of
meeting rooms at your business address.

It's important to visualise the future of your business and be sure not to undersell yourself.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

What is the etiquette of mobiles in meetings?

A new article on BBC News discusses the ethics of using your mobile phone in meetings.
It makes you think - if you're growing your business it is likely you'll be attending more client meetings so do you excuse yourself and answer your mobile, potentially upsetting your client, or let the call ring to voicemail and risk losing the new business?

There is another option.

The Virtual Office is designed for predicaments like this.

For example with a VO Response service you can choose from programmed call options and divert your calls to the receptionists as you enter your meeting and back to your mobile when you finish.
The team of friendly receptionists will know that when they receive calls you are in a meeting and can relay this to your caller.

Or you can divert them to your colleague.

Alternatively you can choose for all calls to answered by the receptionist in your company name, allowing you to screen out sales and provide diaries to prevent disturbances during meetings or times when you just need to concentrate.

The options are virtually endless.

Find out more at www.voffice.com/virtual-office/

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

New Look for The Virtual Office Group

As spring finally arrives in London, The Virtual Office® Group launches a redesigned website.

VOffice.com communicates the message that The Virtual Office® are the original, independent virtual office, serviced office and meeting room provider in London.

This redesign of voffice.com aims to create a more useable customer experience with true transparency and portray the professionalism and personality of The Virtual Office®.

Do you have any feedback on our achievement of these objectives?
Did you experience any usability problems?

I would be very interested in your responses.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Meeting Room Discount

To celebrate The Virtual Office® Group's recent relocation to 180 Piccadilly we are offering 15% off all meeting rooms booking on Mondays & Fridays.

With views over Piccadilly or Duke Street these meeting rooms are the perfect venue for your meetings.

All benefit from air conditioning, classic decoration, natural light & exceptional onsite support.

Visit www.voffice.com for more information about The Virtual Office® Group

Friday, 26 February 2010

New Decade means New Home for The Virtual Office

At the start of this year The Virtual Office Group relocated its operations & clients from 211 Piccadilly to 2 fantastic new locations: 180 Piccadilly, W1J & 50 Jermyn Street, SW1Y

The office space, meeting rooms & communal facilities were designed based on the results of a client questionnaire & have been received positively.

We are still listening to feedback & adapting the spaces to provide facilities tailor made to our client base.

Situated opposite the Royal Academy of Arts & adjacent to Fortnum and Mason, The Virtual Office provides tranquil spaces close to the peaceful havens of Green Park & St James's Park.

Visit the new website