Today's blog post comes from Hingham, MA-based virtual assistant Zoe Pirnie, who shares how she helps businesses solve email problems big and small!
One common complaint I hear from those involved in small and big business is that they have lost control of their email. A woman entrepreneur I know recently posted a picture on social media of her inbox with 62,000 unread emails and the caption was “I guess this is what I’ll be doing this weekend.” This nearly gave me a heart attack. I simply can’t function like that and you shouldn’t have to either.
People want instant gratification for nearly everything. This includes a response to their email. If you are a small business owner and are juggling all facets of your business by yourself, it’s understandable that you might not be able to answer emails quickly while also creating a marketing plan, taking photos or designing bags, for example. Outsourcing help with your email can save you time that you can spend on what it is you do best. It also ensures that your customers or vendors are answered in a timely manner, which reflects well on your business. If it takes you a week to respond to a potential lead, they may have already moved on before you even got the chance to hit send.
My small business is being a virtual assistant, which means my entire job is to help other businesses and individuals with tasks like this. How does a VA help you streamline your email, you may ask? There are a few ways.
You can grant access to your email and share your calendar so I can keep track of appointments
I can create folders to organize emails if you don’t have a system set up.
I can try to prioritize what must be addressed quickly and delete or file what is no longer needed in your inbox.
Your inbox ideally should be a holding place for emails that haven’t been addressed yet or those which you have initiated a response but haven’t closed the stream of communication yet. Once an order is completed, issue resolved or appointment set—file it away! It feels great, trust me.
If you don’t feel comfortable totally handing over access to your account, you can also forward emails to a VA that you don’t have time to address. Obviously there are many emails which you as the business owner must respond to yourself. You can initiate the flow of communication and then pass it over to the VA to follow up on. Often there can be a lot of back and forth between clients and business owners trying to find mutual times for appointments, calls, etc and I can manage that process until it is complete so you don’t have chase it down.
Whether you are a photographer who is getting bombarded with requests for shoot dates or a baker who is dealing with custom cake orders, a VA can help you improve your email communication with your clients. The bonus of working with a VA is that you can hire someone for as little or as much time as you need a month, possibly even just a few hours.
Zoe is a virtual administrative and marketing assistant and mother of two rambunctious young boys. She left her corporate career nine years ago so she could maintain a more flexible lifestyle after having children. During that time, she also started her own e-commerce jewelry store, becoming very well versed with many of the challenges small business owners face in the digital world.