How to Effectively Manage Your Time as a Small Business Owner

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ADAVIRTUAL Business Support’s founder, Ada Obi, recently shared some tips and tricks on how to effectively manage your time as a small business owner at the i:Entrepreneur UK Mentoring Breakfast.

Mentoring Breakfast Session

i:Entrepreneur is a campaign celebrating, championing and shining a light on small businesses founded by entrepreneurs of diverse backgrounds. It exists to raise the profile of these businesses and to ensure success is celebrated not as a minority, but for the incredible value they bring in their own right.

ADAVIRTUAL are proud to be a part of the campaign and we were excited to lead a session for one of their mentoring breakfasts.

Ada’s vision when starting the company was of making it the ultimate virtual administration and operational support for fast growing businesses who need to manage their time and business operations efficiently. So naturally the theme of the breakfast had to be how to effectively manage your time.

During the session Ada focused the importance of working smarter, not harder, and challenged their entrepreneurs to identify their day-to-day tasks that are ‘Time Stealers’.

If you are interested in the points discussed then you can read the blog with all the highlights here

Ada ObiHow to Effectively Manage Your Time as a Small Business Owner
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Why we should all be more open to virtual working post 2020

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2020 has been a very strange year! Many businesses (both big and small) have had incredibly tough moments and sadly some have not made it through to this new Covid-19 world.

One positive side to lockdown is that many businesses and their staff have had to adjust to working from home and can now see the benefits of virtual working.

Small Business Britain had some research conducted earlier in the year for their Small Report 2020 and “found that many of the changes instigated by small businesses have involved digital transformation, with over half pivoting to online to engage with customers more, and 46% expecting their use of digital to increase in the future”.

One of the challenges we face as a virtual business support company is that many business owners are reluctant to release control of some elements of their business to someone outside their office. Lockdown helped to show that you can effectively communicate and be productive without having to be in the same building and this figure shows a positive step towards more businesses willing to work virtually post 2020.

Other Positives

Another positive for digital working is the use of apps. Our passion is helping startups to grow and streamline their processes so they can concentrate on their product or services. For many businesses this may involve adopting some new apps (there usually is “an app for that” these days!) or rethinking the way you organise your time. There are so many different types of apps that can help these days; from helping track your time to scheduling social media.

Virtual working can also has a positive impact on the environment. By switching to saving files on a drive or doing your invoices online can help reduce the amount of paper your business uses. ADAVIRTUAL are proud to be a paperless office (we do not even own a printer!). It also means you have backups and can access the documents wherever you are, whether you are out on a client appointment or having to work from home.

So perhaps we can take a small positive from this strange year! Here is to 2021!

Ada ObiWhy we should all be more open to virtual working post 2020
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ADAVIRTUAL Business Support based in Crawley, West Sussex will be given a spell in the limelight as part of this year’s Small Biz 100, a national campaign highlighting some of the UK’s most inspiring small businesses.

Marking 100 days building up to Small Business Saturday on 5 December 2020, the Small Biz 100 provides a major profile boost to small businesses across the UK, particularly at this challenging time.

Showcasing a daily celebration of the Small Biz 100 through social media, the campaign aims to support and celebrate a vibrant range of small, community driven businesses across the UK.

ADAVIRTUAL Business Support is a Sussex based business that provides the ultimate virtual administration and operational support for fast growing businesses who need to manage their time and business operations efficiently and will be placed in the spotlight on Wednesday 11th November, with a special offer for new clients wishing to try their services.

Ada Obi, founder of ADAVIRTUAL said: “We are absolutely thrilled to be part of this amazing campaign and I am most thankful to God Almighty. We have a fantastic team who have been working hard from home throughout the covid-19 pandemic and it is wonderful to have this opportunity to showcase the great work we do which has the potential to help other small businesses and startups to grow their business.”

Among the other firms being recognised are a family run florist in Bristol, a beauty salon in Inverness, and a wine school in Chester.

Michelle Ovens MBE, Director of Small Business Saturday UK, said:

“Congratulations to ADAVIRTUAL Business Support for joining the Small Biz 100! This campaign highlights the amazing, positive impact small firms have on communities across the UK. Given the phenomenally tough time small businesses have had, and the special role they played supporting communities in lockdown, it’s vital we continue to support them as this crisis continues. This year’s Small Business Saturday is going to be the most important one yet, and we’re determined it will also be the best.”

Now in its eighth year in the UK, Small Business Saturday has grown significantly each year, with a record turnout of 17.6 million people choosing to shop small on the day last year, generating an estimated £800m.

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3 Things I’ve Learnt As A Computer Science Graduate (and how it can help you and your business)

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By Chiamaka Anamekwe, Intern at ADAVIRTUAL Business Support.

There was a time ‘computer science dropout’ seemed synonymous with ‘successful tech entrepreneur’. The likes of Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and Paul Allen dropped out of the infamous course, all to go on to found the biggest companies in the world today. Whilst there is no direct correlation between dropping out of computer science and founding multi-billion dollar businesses, I’ve always wondered why exactly so many have gone on to do so.

I decided to reflect on my time as a computer science student, and think about some of the lessons I’d learnt throughout the experience. Whilst these lessons are by no means exclusive to computer science, it seems some of them just tend to be more prominent. Without further ado, here are some of the most important things my degree taught me (disclaimer: ignoring the guilt of watching Netflix with 3 unfinished assignments looming over my head didn’t quite make the list).

Surrounding yourself with great minds can push you to greatness

I remember my first year of university I was surrounded by people who had been coding for the majority of their lives and at that point I could probably count the lines of code I had written in my entire life. The course is notoriously difficult, and thus, is where you will find some of the smartest people you have ever met; I’ve met people who were building computers at 5 and working on software used by millions before they could legally drink. I felt so far behind but I was determined it wouldn’t remain that way. Call it pride but I wasn’t going to be the girl who dropped out the ‘man’s subject’ because it was too hard.

I could easily have backed away from the challenge. Looking at how much you still have to do and how hard it will be can be extremely discouraging but I realised something at that moment which probably transformed my time at university – I might not get this opportunity again. Here I was, surrounded by people a lot smarter than me, who were in the same position I was. I needed to use it to my advantage so I essentially became a sponge, soaking in all the information I could. I reached out to classmates often, discussing everything from the current coursework to their side projects, and beyond the classroom, I was working to catch up on the years I seemed to have missed. Would I have pushed myself like I did had I not felt like I was behind? Probably not. That may just be the competitive spirit in me but I truly believe surrounding yourself with greater minds can push you to be greater, provided you adopt the right mindset.

The same goes for life. If you want to be better, learn from better. If you’re running your own startup or small business, find people who have run their own business and have done it well, and learn from what they did. Reach out to them if you can.

Networking is more than an awkward dinner event

If you’re like me, when you think of networking, you probably think of a dreaded evening event filled with forced smiles, bad jokes and a bunch of people you don’t know. Whilst this is a form of networking, it is far from the only option. When I was reaching out to fellow classmates, or talking to people I’d met at events I’d attended, I wasn’t thinking of it as a networking opportunity but it is. These are times when genuine connections are built, with people you actually want to have a conversation with. Reach out and get their contact details and there you go – you’ve built your network! Now it will feel a lot less strange to reach out to them at a later date for whatever you wish to discuss. I’ve met people at pizza nights who I ended up running a society with.

Learning to learn is an essential skill

Computer science is hard. If I haven’t mentioned it earlier, I’ll mention it now. There is a lot to learn, and (frustrating for some), most of what you learn is changing as you learn it. Our professors would frequently tell us how they had to go back and update their slides when the information became outdated, and no doubt some of the things I have been taught will soon change. If I just learnt the way things are and expected to graduate ready to take on the world of technology, I’d be in for a big shock. It’s drilled into our minds early on that we are not being taught a specific skill but rather how to learn skills. Whilst at a high level I may be learning C programming, I’m really learning how computers work, and how programming languages are structured. This is knowledge I can then apply as I’m learning Java, or Python or any other language. It probably took me a couple of months to get to grips with my first programming language but now I could start coding in a new language in a matter of days. This isn’t specific to just technology though – this is a fact of life. Darwin’s survival of the fittest is as true now as it was way back when. Those best suited to their current environment are the ones who survive and prosper. If you want your business to survive and prosper, think about your current environment and what you need to succeed in that environment. Learn it, and apply it. Now repeat. This is a never-ending process, which is why learning how to learn, and learning how to learn fast is so essential.

Ada Obi3 Things I’ve Learnt As A Computer Science Graduate (and how it can help you and your business)
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3 Reasons Why Effective Client Onboarding is the Key to Success for SaaS Businesses

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Our aim is to give our clients back some of their time so they can focus on the key elements within their business. This then means they can concentrate on growth during the exciting (and sometimes overwhelming) startup journey.

For many Service as a Software (SaaS) businesses the operational tasks needed to be completed when onboarding a client can seem quite daunting and hard to keep track of. We have many years’ experience working with SaaS based businesses and so wanted to share our 3 reasons why effective client onboarding is key to success for SaaS businesses.

Reason 1 – You will be consistent in your approach

ADAVIRTUAL help clients put processes in place during the early stages of the company’s growth. We always recommend putting a process in place as early as possible as this allows for a consistent approach that can be used for all clients. 

You can then keep track of where your customer is on the onboarding journey and what is still left to action. You also know that all your clients are experiencing the same level of service. This will allow for some great feedback (see reason 2)!

Reason 2 – You will create positive customer journey

It is important for the customer to feel valued from the onset. The last thing you will want is a great sales pitch, the customer to buy-in to the product but then suddenly for them to be left in the wind during the onboarding process!

By having a process in place you will ensure that the customer feels valued, well looked after and not just a sales figure.

Reason 3 – You will be more efficient

The result of streamlining your process means you are able to acquire more clients efficiently. You can also maintain high levels of customer experience which will then lead to great reviews and recommendations leading to more sales!

Ada Obi3 Reasons Why Effective Client Onboarding is the Key to Success for SaaS Businesses
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10 Tasks You Can Ask Your Business Support Company to Assist You With

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If you are a startup or a small business and are thinking of using a business support company but you have no idea what sort of tasks they can help with, then this blog post is for you!

Many founders feel overwhelmed with the amount of tasks and admin involved when setting up their business (and throughout the growth stages). By hiring a business support company, some of these tasks can be handed over freeing up your time to concentrate on the key elements of the business.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but it should give you a good indication on the range of support available. There may even be some you are surprised at!

1 – Email Management

Emails are the preferred method of communication by many people and there is an expectation for responses to be timely. If someone is interested in your product or service, then the last thing you want is for their communication to be lost in the sea of emails in your inbox!

A business support company can help by managing the inbox, responding to any emails and flagging any that need your attention

2 – Calendar Management

As a founder (or as a team), your diaries may seem incredibly busy with client meetings and sales pitches. By having a business support company assist with your appointment making they can ensure that meetings are arranged factoring in travel, personal appointments and length needed for that type of request. This should then leave your days running smoother and more efficiently.

3 – HR Onboarding

If you are lucky enough to be hiring then it could be worth asking for assistance on the onboarding steps needed for a new hire. This can include assisting with the employee contracts, documentation and welcome packs needed before their start date.

4 – Invoicing & Payroll

Being paid and making payments (to suppliers and staff) is a very key element of any business but sometimes this can be pushed to the side. Ask your business support company to help manage this by them creating and chasing your invoices on your behalf. They may even be able to assist in payroll and things like employee pensions.

5 – Operational Onboarding

If you are in an industry such as Service as a Software (SaaS) then you may have many operational onboarding steps in order to get a client up and running.

A business support company, like ourselves, can assist in the steps required and means that your clients have a consistent and positive customer journey from the onset.

6 – Implementation and Streamlining of Processes

Setting up processes early on is key as it helps you work more consistently and efficiently. This will impact the way customers view your organisation. By working more efficiently, you also allow more time on sales and the elements of growth for your business.

7“Office Management” 

This can be anything from ordering goods and stationery for the office to organising events for the team (birthdays, incentive trips, hotel and travel booking etc).

8 – Organisation 

When you started your business you may have found that organising your documents, Drive and emails were not high on the list but now you feel stressed whenever you need to find something! The business support team can help put everything into a logical place and order which can help you be more efficient. This should help bring your blood pressure back down.

9 – PA Tasks

This falls under the more traditional things you may first think of when considering a business support company or virtual assistant. These tasks do include some of the earlier tasks of calendar and email management but on a more individual basis of the founder rather than for the company as a whole.

Tasks could also include research such as new office space, energy or telecommunication deals.

10 – Squad Goals

This is not necessarily a task you would ask for when searching for a business support company but we thought it was important to highlight companies such as ourselves are invested in your business too. We want you to succeed and for your business to grow!

We will work with you to make sure you excel at what you do.

Ada Obi10 Tasks You Can Ask Your Business Support Company to Assist You With
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Our Top 5 Working from Home Tips for Maximum Productivity

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With the current situation many of us are now finding ourselves working from home for the first time. We are very lucky to have great flexibility and many of our team are working from home at least one day a week so we wanted to share some of our tips with you.

1 – Have a workstation

 If you are able to, then try to set up a workstation within your home. This could be a desk in a spare room, the dining room table or we have even seen people selling “isolation stations” for those who need their office on their lap!

With many people having to juggle work and childcare you may need to work in the lounge to keep an eye on the kids. If this is the case, then try to make sure you have your allocated spot on the sofa with all your essential items around you.

Explain to your children that you are working and set boundaries for when they can ask questions so you are not being interrupted too much.

2 – “Walk” to work

So with home working our commute has gone out the window (we love the photos of Londoners using their shower rails as pretend handrails for the tube!) but we should still make sure we are being active! Perhaps in your usual commute time you can go for a walk (if you are able to). If this is not an option you could do some yoga or a fitness video from YouTube; Joe Wicks is currently being P.E teacher to the nation at 9am Monday – Friday and we have been joining in with our children!

This allows you time to do some exercise and get yourself motivated for the day.

3 – Make sure to take a break

When working from home it is essential that you still take regular breaks and move from your “desk”. Perhaps set an alarm for certain times of the day for a coffee break and lunch. Make sure you are drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day and try to stick to normal routines in terms of the food you eat for lunch. Snacking at home can become a bad habit so if you used to take a packed lunch to work, try to have the same things when at home. Have some healthy snacks near your desk for when temptation hits.

4 – Stay in touch

Although we are social distancing we can all still stay in touch. We use Slack for team messages and for sharing questions, updates and general chat. We also have a Google Hangouts call with everyone on a Wednesday morning so we can run through our week so far and discuss things on a group call.

Staying in touch doesn’t have to be all business either. We have a weekly “game” slot to play a quiz together. Other companies have been doing their own MTV Cribs and virtual pub on a Friday. It’s a great time to get creative with how to have fun on a virtual basis.

5 – Switch off

Sometimes the problem with working from home is that people struggle to switch off once their working day is over.

In a report from Buffer and AngelList on The 2020 State of Remote Work, 18% of people said they couldn’t unplug. It is important to still have the distinction of work and home life. The workstation in point 1 will help here as well as communication. Say goodbye to your work colleagues on work messages when you are logging off like you would in the office. They then know you have finished and your workday has ended.

We hope this will help with working from home. As with all new things, find what works best for you and don’t be afraid to adapt if you need to but just remember to cover the key basics.

Ada ObiOur Top 5 Working from Home Tips for Maximum Productivity
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ADAVIRTUAL Does Sport Relief!

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On your marks, get set…go! Staff at ADAVIRTUAL Business Support has raised £112.00 for Sport Relief!

The money raised will help to take on some of the biggest issues right here in the UK and around the world, from tackling homelessness to championing mental health.

On Tuesday 10th March, the staff from ADAVIRTUAL Business Support joined thousands of fundraisers across the nation in kick-starting their support for Sport Relief.

As a small local company based at Worth Corner Business Centre they were keen to get involved and raise funds. The staff decided to host a lunch break quiz and invite other companies to join them whilst dressed in their best sporty outfits. Cakes and entry to the sweepstake were also on sale to boost the funds raised.

Ada Obi, Managing Director of ADAVIRTUAL, says:

“We are a small business but we are always keen to expand our support for good causes. This is our first time supporting Sport Relief but last year we helped raise money for Children In Need and local charity Chailey Heritage Foundation. The plan is to continue supporting such great causes wherever we can”.

Speaking of their efforts, Sian Curtis-Golds, Business Development Executive said: 

“It’s so exciting to be involved in this year’s Sport Relief campaign and a fantastic opportunity for companies in our building to get-together and raise money for such a brilliant cause. We would like to say a huge thank you to all those who came along! It was great fun and knowing that we’ve made difference is a fantastic feeling.”

This year, Sport Relief is encouraging the nation to get their kit on to tackle issues such as child poverty, homelessness, domestic abuse and mental health stigma. Sport Relief week will culminate in an unmissable night of live TV from Salford on Friday 13th March on BBC One.

Ada ObiADAVIRTUAL Does Sport Relief!
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Why We Are More Than A Virtual Assistant

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When asked what we do as a business, the answer can be hard to give. Not because it is complicated but because we cover a huge range of options and help in so many areas it is difficult to put succinctly.

We call ourselves a business support company rather than a virtual assistant for many reasons. Yes, we work remotely from your business in terms of location (our office is based in Crawley) but not in terms of service.

The business was started because we wanted to help support startups and small businesses to grow by offering support for the daily admin and operations that are essential for a business but were not necessarily money making tasks.

By giving back time we have seen our clients grow and thrive as well as our own team in order to meet the demand. 

We pride ourselves on being a bit different from the norm and so, here are 3 reasons why we are more than a virtual assistant!

We Are a Team!

One the main reasons ADAVIRTUAL are a business support company rather than a VA is the fact that we are a team. As a client you will still have a dedicated assistant to support your business needs and to integrate with the existing team but if one of us has annual leave planned or is unwell, you have other members of the team to assist instead. Thus, giving you unbroken support which means less stress and worry for yourself. The team also has a range of experience and expertise so we can help with a huge variety of tasks.

Virtual Doesn’t Mean Impersonal

We know how hard it can be when running your own business and also how hard it is to relinquish some tasks to someone else. That is why we get to know you and your business so we can integrate ourselves and work to the absolute best for YOU.

We meet many of our clients in person and are the friendly extended arm of your business. Should you need to discuss ideas or processes that will help your business grow then we are here to help!

Every business and their needs are different so we make sure we know what is important for you and support you along the way. Therefore, if your needs change then we can adapt too. Flexibility is key when starting up and we understand this.

Operational Expertise

Although we handle a huge range of tasks including back-office administration, our expertise lies in the operational support for onboarding clients for Service as a Software (SaaS) businesses. The first in-app experience your customer has with your product sets the tone for your relationship, so we’ll work with you to deliver your implementation strategy and ensure that your customer onboarding process is successful. 

Can Your Virtual Assistant Do That?

So, if you are considering outsourcing then just remember that your “virtual assistant” may be able to help you with many more things than you first realised!

Ada ObiWhy We Are More Than A Virtual Assistant
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Things to Consider When Expanding Your Team as a Startup

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Expanding your team as a startup or small business is not an easy job. According to a recent CB Insights study, 23% of startups fail because they do not have the ideal team to run a business. If growth is your business’s objective, it is vital that you choose the right people for it. A startup should be aware of the critical areas of their business. For a startup’s growth, the strategy, finance, human resource, product/brand design and development, research and development, and operations are essential.

Build a strong team

Growth is possible only if you have a good team to back you up. Hiring people that can help bring creativity and ideas to the table is always a good idea. Hiring people who also get the job done and are willing to be flexible in their role is essential for the early stages of growth of your business.

If you are considering fast paced growth within the business and team then it is worth considering hiring someone senior with experience to help like a Finance or Operations Director. They can help then support you with business decisions and plans.

Retention is then also key. It is all well and good expanding your team and getting the best people but useless if you then can’t keep hold of them. Help build a company culture from the early days. Show that you care and offer perks. These don’t necessarily have to be monetary; it could be flexibility with working hours or location for example.

Focus on your business functions

When expanding your team, your strategists should always determine whether that particular time is ideal for you to grow.  Performing a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) will allow you to understand your ideas better. Moreover, financing is integral to the growth of your business. Since your business is relatively small in size, you might need loans. On top of that, finance is important for forecasting and budgeting purposes too. When hiring people, you need to make sure that they possess sufficient knowledge regarding business.

Most people tend to ignore the area of research and development when expanding their startups. Your startups and small business will only grow if you work on your ideas well.

Think of your future roles

Expanding your business might be a good idea, but you need to see whether it is even in line with your business objective. There is no point in growth if your strategy fails to help you reach your ultimate goal. For this purpose, you need to know what your organisation chart must look like in the future. Thinking long-term is, therefore, the key. Always check whether your decisions blend well with the structure of the organisation as well as the relative ranks of its departments.

Is it best to hire or outsource?

You need to consider whether hiring employees of your own would benefit your business’s growth or outsourcing would be a better idea.

If you are finding you have too much work but not sure if you are in a position to hire then companies such as ADAVIRTUAL Business Support could be an option. By offering hourly rates as well as monthly retainer packages businesses can utilise the expertise and time of the team with the flexibility of increasing or decreasing the workload as business needs demand.

In most cases, small businesses or startups prefer to outsource during growth because they tend to avoid issues like sick pays, workplace pensions, holidays, etc.

However, it is for you to choose what option is the least costly for your business.

Ada ObiThings to Consider When Expanding Your Team as a Startup
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