Taking Your Laptop To The Beach? A VA Can Help…..

July 1, 2013 at 9:18 am | Posted in Articles | Leave a comment
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??????????????????????As we approach holiday time many of us are thinking about taking some time to relax and recuperate after many months of hard work (and not to mention grey skies!).  However, how many of you feel a slight wave of panic when you think about keeping your business going when you’re away?  Check voicemails & emails once/day? Check texts twice/day?

And when we get back, what are we faced with? Big bills for our data usage and/or a huge inbox demanding attention.  Somehow all the positive effects of the holiday disappear in a matter of hours.

So, we’ve asked our VA members, Isabel Roy of Cherry Services and JillMcLachlan of JMVA to share their top tips for a calm holiday and a relaxed return to work.

  1. Clear any outstanding emails in your inbox before you go.  This will ensure nothing is outstanding and all pending emails are flagged for your return
  2. Handover to a VA or Business Partner.  Provide the full client status of any current work and any office administration tasks.  Always leave a full list  or database of contact numbers for yourself, clients and suppliers.
  3. Check and clear diary of any due meetings, reminders, actions or papers and push back until return or ask your VA to deal with it while you are away.
  4. Change your voicemail detailing alternative contact details for your VA.
  5. Leave for the airport with a clear and organised mind  knowing that either your business is being well looked after by your VA and that you have covered all “bases” for while you are away!

Don’t have a VA??  VA services start at a very reasonable rate and you can use as much or as little as you need.  So put a VA on your Holiday List and make the most of your time off this year.

Thanks to Isabel and Jill.

The Network that Keeps on Giving

March 27, 2013 at 11:27 am | Posted in Member Stories | Leave a comment
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Think you’ve “done” all the networking you need to do for your business?  Here, June Dean from The Elevation Factor, Gill Bye from Royal Bank of Scotland and Jill McLachlan of JMVA tell us why, with over 12 years membership between them and already being successful business women, they keep coming back for more…

June Dean

June Dean

Gill Bye

Gill Bye

Jill McLachlan

Jill McLachlan

Q: What made you join The Athena Network originally?


June: A close friend was the Chair at Marlow and recommended I should come along as I had just started my business.
Jill: It was recommended to me by the VA Community as a good source of connections and also a friendly way to network.
Gill: I wanted to build my profile in the local community.

Q: What difference has being an Athena member made to your business?

Gill: I am more confident in public speaking.  I have saved members money on renewing their annual business insurance and also secured members interest on their business account deposits.
Jill: I have so much more confidence to network both within Athena and outside, through my role as Chair of one of the groups.  Also, having had the opportunty to present to the groups, I now have much more confidence in public speaking.  My business  has grown not only through increased revenue but also from the support and contacts I have made within the group.
June: Huge difference – it has given me the foundation and network to build a solid business.

Q: What made you renew most recently?

Gill: I like the ethos of Athena and I really like my group.  I have got to know the businesses in my group and also been able to meet many members of the other groups too through Cappuccino Connections. This has helped me to build my wider network.
June: Continued business from referrals, enjoyment of monthly meetings to focus on my business and the opportunity to take advantage of ideas and support.

Q: How would you quantify the business you’ve gained through Athena?

Gill: The business  I received through Athena last year easily paid for my annual membership fees.
Jill: In 2012 60% of my client base was made up of either Athena members or connections I had made via Athena members.
June: I usually get 10 – 20 times my fees back in business every year!

Q: What advice would you give someone thinking about joining Athena? 

Jill: JOIN! Come along and try it;  Don’t expect immediate results – the groups have to grow to trust you and find out what you do.  Also you, in turn, need to learn about your fellow members to understand how you can help them and how they can help you.  Also use your membership to its full potential e.g. hot seating and visiting other groups.
June: Go for it! Networking is the most effective marketing tool out there. People buy from people and its the best way of meeting them and getting recommendations.
Gill: Do join and remember it is about building relationships. From 1-2-1’s with your fellow members you will build a profile on that individual and from doing that, this business will naturally come.

Tips for a Stress-Free December

December 3, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Posted in Articles | Leave a comment
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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMaybe we are being a little adventurous with the title but does December really need to be such a stressful month for us?  There always seems so much to do in such a short space of time; sort out Christmas presents, cards, plans for Christmas day and Christmas dinner – and that isn’t even looking at what you need to sort out for your business!

Have you thought about your communication to your clients and contacts; will your office be closed, will there be a cut-off date for clients placing orders for your products?  Or do you just wish to everyone a “Merry Christmas”?

The three questions below will help you take care of what you need to organise.

Who – What – When!


Decide who you wish to contact on the run up to Christmas.  Is your contact list up-to-date?  If sending Christmas cards do you have the correct addresses for everyone?   Does everyone need to receive something?

Split your contact list into categories so that clients and contacts that you are always in touch with receive a Christmas card, whilst other contacts who you don’t see that often or perhaps are on your mailing list receive an e-card.


Decide what form your communication will be, e.g. a newsletter, e-card or physical Christmas cards.   If wishing to send physical cards are you sending branded cards or buying them off the shelf?  If sending branded cards – when does the printer need the order by to ensure you receive them in plenty of time to send out, remember they need to be written and that takes time!

Some organisations decide send e-cards and the money that is saved on purchasing cards and postage they then donate to a charity or cause they are affiliated with – they advise on the e-card that this is what they are doing.  What a great way to promote a small unknown charity that you hold dear to you!


Are you wishing to purchase corporate gifts? Ensure you have a clear budget and stick to it!  How will the gifts be delivered, are you personally delivering them? If you wish to personally deliver your gifts set a day aside when you will be out of the office being Santa’s little helper – before you know it Christmas will be here and people’s diaries will be getting busier and busier!  Perhaps arrange to meet your client for a coffee and you can give them their gift then – a great excuse to have a face to face meeting!

By putting in place the above three actions as soon as possible you will be more organised during December; cards will be sent on time, corporate gifts will be bought and delivered before Christmas Eve and your time can be spent more productively and more importantly allowing yourself to enjoy the run up to Christmas.

Jill McLachlan
Tel: 01344 314444
Mob: 07590 047611
Web: www.jmva.co.uk


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