The importance of AWARDS!

Are awards important to you, whether your employed or a business owner? Isn’t the recognition from your Peers that your doing a great job a real boost? Whatever people might say, we don’t just work for the money – it’s more than that!

Awards are a great way of achieving the recognition of your Peers. No matter what the size of your business you can enter a business award. There are a huge variety of awards around from local to national, industry based or with specific criteria.

You can find out about awards through your local chamber of commerce, local and business press or simply searching the internet for relevant awards.

Deciding what awards to enter is crucial as it’s important to weigh up the time and effort it would take to enter against the potential gains. Some awards may have monetary prizes or other benefits such as coaching, advice and workshops. However, it’s not just the winning that counts!

With resources often stretched putting yourself forward for business awards is not always the top of the agenda. Here are five reasons why simply entering an award could be good for your business:

 1.  Benchmarking

The application process for entering a business award can often force you to look at your business from a different perspective and compare yourself to your competitors.

You’ll need to make sure that you stand out from the competition whether that’s through innovation, diversity, growth, customer service, investment in people and strategic thinking. This will help you think about ways you could be doing things better and identify areas for improvement.

2.  Increase your credibility

A business award win, short-listing or nomination can act as a 3rd party endorsement for your business. A win can give a seal of approval to your activities and is a sign of quality for potential customers, so can form part of your sales pitch. It’s a great way of differentiating your company from competitors and will send out positive signals to customers.

3.  Free marketing!

Business awards shouldn’t be overlooked as a tool in your marketing toolbox – just being shortlisted can improve brand awareness and promote your business to new customers. Make sure you maximise PR exposure and update your marketing materials with the award logo including business cards, website, literature, email and sales material.

It’s fantastic to be recognised so it’s important to make sure that people know what your business has achieved. Winning a business award can open doors to getting contracts and breaking into new markets.

4.  Employee motivation

Awards recognise the hard work and achievements of your employees so winning one can help boost staff morale and improve motivation. Employees are focused on what’s great about the company they work for and can feel proud to be a part of it.

This can be maximised by making sure staff feel they get the recognition they deserve by celebrating the success. Why not invite staff to the awards ceremony or hold your own dinner for a great night out!

5.  Attract more talent

Business awards increase your stature among new recruits. By pitching yourself as the best you can attract the talent you need to push your business forward.

And the winner is?

It would be daft to write this blog and not blow our own trumpet!

In 2018 we’ve been awarded (so far):

  • ‘Best Business Support Company: Virtual Assistants’ in the CV Magazine Business Innovator Awards 2018.
  • Glow Virtual Assistants & Her Business Brew are winners of a Lotus Award (awards recognising a unique concept recognising great workplaces by celebrating what makes them unique.

About Glow Virtual Assistants

We’re a forward-thinking agency of skilled and qualified Virtual Assistants, specialising in supporting entrepreneurs and businesses to succeed, grow and shine!

We offer a range of services and tailor packages to suit the needs of you and your business.

Why not read what our clients say about us so you know that your business will be in safe hands.

Want a chat or got a question? Drop us a message and we’ll get back to you!

If you have enjoyed reading our top tips to help you get organised for the Summer, sign up for future blogs on our website.

The importance of CSR in business

For my business Corporate Social Responsibility (or CSR as it’s commonly referred to) is extremely important. And it’s true to say that many, many businesses now realise the importance of CSR in how they operate.

But what is CSR?

Well, CSR is a mechanism for businesses to assess the impact they have on society and for them to consider putting responsible, ethical policies in place to support individuals, the local community and the environment.

For us, it’s about connecting with our social responsibilities whether that be through charity involvement or supporting other initiatives within the community.

And why is it important?

If you Google the importance of CSR you’ll be amazed at the large number of hits you get – everybody has a view!

 The ‘hard-nosed’ view as to why social responsibility is important to a business is because it demonstrates to both consumers and the media that the company takes an interest in wider social issues that have no direct impact on profit margins. This, in turn, can lead to greater profits for a business!

Whilst the distinction between profit and ethics might not be clear for larger organisations, I believe that for local, small businesses (like mine), it’s completely transparent. It’s about giving back to the society in which you live and using the focus and network that being in business can bring to make a difference. That’s why it’s important to us!

What about CSR in my business?

We have a number of initiatives, or projects, that provide ways of us being able to give back to the business community and local causes and charities.

In summary, our CSR includes the following initiatives:

1) For HER – a community intended to raise and expose issues affecting women in all aspects of their life, including in business and body-focused, as well as to raise awareness of charities and social enterprise projects that can help and support women.

With a lot of business education from industry experts, as well as exposure of positive body image campaigners, For HER has something for every woman – no matter your background, age, race, size, shape, religion, etc, everyone’s input and views are always welcome!

We also run the For HER Foundation which is a crowdfunding foundation where women can donate to help the valuable work of For HER (group and online chat show) and support other women everywhere!

2) Her Business Brew – this Norfolk based women’s networking group was set up in 2015 by Serena Fordham, and has grown to be one of Norfolk’s largest and most successful women’s networking groups; which is constantly expanding and attracting new members across the county.

Each meeting offers the opportunity for Norfolk business women to come together in a fun, friendly and relaxed environment, as well as providing a variety of education and speakers to help the members grow and develop.

3) Norfolk Mums – a community for mums providing lots of useful information and links to events. There’s even a directory of local businesses that mums might want to use, both practical and indulgent!

4) An Hour Or So – a Norfolk-based initiative where local businesses pledge an hour of their services in exchange for a charitable donation.

This is a great way for businesses to raise their profile, or to give back if you want to use one of the services being offered.

The project is supporting a range of charities in Norfolk including Break, Age UK Norfolk, West Norfolk Mind, Nelson’s Journey and the Norfolk Wildlife Trust

We’re also raising funds for charity!

Through Glow Virtual Assistants and Her Business Brew we also aim to support local charities and to raise funds for them.

We periodically run charity events and have a nominated Charity of the Year, which for 2018 is Leeway, which provides domestic violence and abuse support services. Each of the Her Business Brew meetings donates to Leeway.

I hope you can see that CSR is very important to me, my colleagues and my business – it’s plays a key part in how we operate and the ethics we adopt.

We want to make a difference and encourage others to make a positive impact on the world too!

About Glow Virtual Assistants

We’re a forward-thinking agency of skilled and qualified Virtual Assistants, specialising in supporting entrepreneurs and businesses to succeed, grow and shine!

We offer a range of services and tailor packages to suit the needs of you and your business.

Why not read what our clients say about us so you know that your business will be in safe hands.

Want a chat or got a question? Drop us a message and we’ll get back to you!

If you have enjoyed reading why CSR is very important, sign up for future blogs on our website.

Getting organised for Summer!

Are you and your business ready for Summer? If not, these top tips may help!

For businesses, the Summer months usually see a general slowdown; with drops in productivity, reduced attendance (employees and customers) and increased time to deliver projects.

So, it’s useful to ensure that our businesses are organised and prepared for what the Summer might throw at us.

But let’s not over think this, having some decent Summer weather is super important, so that we can all chill-out and recharge our batteries!

Challenges and opportunities

Whilst the summer months may bring some challenges to your business, they also offer great opportunities.  Summer quite often sees a business slow down and that time can be used to your advantage.

Here are some top tips to help you organise your business for the Summer and some great suggestions for making the most of the good weather.

1. Plan for Summer – Why not plan ahead for the Summer months so that there aren’t any surprises? Particularly, take time out to consider your staffing needs, after all your staff and your customers will be taking some well-deserved time-off.  Planning ahead will ensure this doesn’t affect the smooth running of your business.

Also, don’t forget, help yourself to plan and prioritise all of your activities by creating and maintaining a ‘to do list’ – planning made simple!

2. Productivity drops – Still on the planning theme, projects can take longer during the Summer, so bear this in mind when agreeing to delivery timescales.

3. Use the quiet time to take stock of things – What went well? What didn’t? Take some timeout to review and tweak things for next time.

4. Launch a thank you campaign – You can turn Summer into a season of appreciation. Send a note, take clients out to lunch or just call them to simply say “thank you”.  Everyone is busy these days, so taking time to show you care and appreciate your customers and clients goes a long way!

5. Offer Summer promotions – Summer sales and special offers can be successful promotions, so consider offering a special limited-time Summer promotion or discount. If the promotion succeeds in generating new or increased business, you can tweak and repeat the same campaign during the Winter holidays too!

6. Have meetings in person and make the most of the warm days Ah…..Summer…..the days are longer, the weather is great, and people are more social. Technology has enhanced our ability to stay connected all year, from anywhere and everywhere, but it’s still good to meet in person.

Summer is the perfect time to catch up face-to-face with contacts, colleagues and prospects, especially outside!  The options are endless.  Grab a drink, have lunch al fresco, or simply go for a walk.  You’ll get outdoors, enjoy the Summer weather, and build your business in the process!

7. Host a party or barbecue for clients – Everyone loves a great party, so why not celebrate Summer by hosting an event? Any kind of open house or get together will be fun and a great way to thank and celebrate your customers.

8. Don’t forget your team – Summer is also a great time to host an event for your team. Get your team to bond and know they are appreciated by taking them to a fun event off-site.  Rounders and a barbecue anyone?!

 …And just in case you thought we had forgotten, THE MOST IMPORTANT THING….

9. TAKE TIME FOR YOU! – You need to take a holiday to reward yourself for all your hard work! So, pack your case, dust off the passport, and hop a plane!

About Glow Virtual Assistants

We’re a forward-thinking agency of skilled and qualified Virtual Assistants, specialising in supporting entrepreneurs and businesses to succeed, grow and shine!

We offer a range of services and tailor packages to suit the needs of you and your business.

Why not read what our clients say about us so you know that your business will be in safe hands.

Want a chat or got a question? Drop us a message and we’ll get back to you!

If you have enjoyed reading our top tips to help you get organised for the Summer, sign up for future blogs on our website.

Connections: In business and in life they are important!

With the rise and changes to social media activities in recent years, the importance of connections to promote your business have become increasingly important.

Whilst online connections are key, the most powerful are those offline, face to face, as these are people that become your tribe and fans and follow what you do on a more regular basis.

Usually, a connection starts online, or briefly face-to-face, then connection is made online – both support one another. Then regular touch points with this connection, online and offline, develops it from an acquaintance to a long term valuable business relationship, and even into friendship.

For a few of these connections, the friendships develop closely, due to these having the same interests and life situations to you, and these are the people that will promote, advocate, support and guide you in life, and help your business grow and prosper.

Let’s look at a few examples of my connections:

I met Missy Dunning nearly 3 years ago at a Her Business Brew meeting – she was self-employed at Sweet Dreams Art. From a conversation at one of the meetings we ended up created a children’s book together, which sold nearly 500 copies. Missy also began working with me as a Virtual Assistant when I was hospitalised when pregnant and then went on to securing a full-time job at Inspired Youth, which was one of the clients she supported at the time.  She is now one of my best friends and supports me with so many projects and in life, and our families and kids are close too.

  • I met Kerri Page through social media as she was working as a self-employed nail technician and was promoting an offer on Facebook. Just over 2 years ago I went to have my nails done with her, we got talking and she wanted more admin work alongside the nail business, so she helped out on various projects and when I was hospitalised, and now she has developed into a full-time employee, my Operations Manager for Glow Virtual Assistants, and future CEO!
  • I met Gay Webster a year back at an event, she is the Editor of Just Regional magazine, and did a story for me about An Hour or So. Since then, she is always promoting me, has connected me to various PR opportunities and is involved in various projects with me, most recently the HER True Colours Calendar 2018.
  • Hollie Itkins, Natalie Davies, Natalie Chapman, Alex Atkinson, the list goes on!

But why connections are so powerful?

As already mentioned, connections support, empower and uplift you in your life. When connections develop into long-term valuable relationships, these people promote you and give you advise/education in your business.

These fans then connect you with other people who can help you on your journey and you can always call upon them to know someone who will be a valuable contact in any situation!

Most of all, once you begin connecting and become a leader in your field/industry, and are know for your expertise, you then become a valuable connector for people and become involved in projects and opportunities that you would never been aware of!

REMEMBER – everyone you meet is important, and never underestimate who they will know!  Treat everyone you meet with respect and as a queen/king!  Share stuff for free, and link others, as this is how you become valuable, along with knowing you are helping and support others to succeed in life and business!

And what about connecting through networking?

In the last few years networking seems to have been the most successful activity in growing my contact list and building my client base.

To make the most out of networking my approach has been to:

  • Attend lots of different groups, of different sizes, locations, single/mixed gender, and corporate/self-employed.
  • Once you have narrowed down what sort of networking groups and activities most suit you and your business then be sure to find as many of these types of group to explore.
  • Once you have attended groups that suit, you will begin to know which of these groups/meetings are the most successful.
  • Now you know what groups and events to attend, make sure you check out the delegate list of each meeting or event in advance and highlight those you would like to build a business relationship with.
  • Try and chat to as many people as possible at each meeting/event.
  • Always introduce yourself with a smile, handshake and a business card.
  • Don’t introduce yourself with a robot-like sales pitch – try to mix it up a bit.
  • In conversation, don’t just focus on the sale – it’s more important to focus on building meaningful business relationships, making useful contacts, and seeking new opportunities.
  • Look for things in common during your conversation – business experiences and personal attributes.
  • Always leave a meeting/event by saying goodbye to as many people as possible who you have spoken with.

But most importantly, don’t forget to be yourself!

About Glow Virtual Assistants

We’re a forward-thinking agency of skilled and qualified Virtual Assistants, specialising in supporting entrepreneurs and businesses to succeed, grow and shine!

We offer a range of services and tailor packages to suit the needs of you and your business.

Why not read what our clients say about us so you know that your business will be in safe hands.

Want a chat or got a question? Drop us a message and we’ll get back to you!

If you have enjoyed reading about the importance of connections in business and life; sign up for future blogs on our website.

Create a to-do list that helps you ROCK as a Business Man/Woman!

Do you ever start your working day not sure which tasks you need to complete, or even the order to tackle them in?

 Stressful isn’t it!

If you’ve answered yes, then you should consider using to-do lists to better organise your time and bring some clarity to your day.

Anything that helps you to focus on the important stuff has got to be good, right?

Taking the time to write a to-do list can have many benefits, here are the key ones to get you started:

  • Creating order – it’s an orderly way to organize how to do the things you want to do. Projects and plans can be broken down into bite size chunks and gives you a strategy for getting things done.
  • Prioritise – helping you to manage tasks effectively and in the right order. You can see all of the items at a glance and prioritize what most needs to be done according to timelines and importance.
  • Reschedule and organise your time – if you finish something quickly or you find yourself with extra time, you can quickly see where the best way to spend your time is.
  • Identify when to delegate – to-do lists help you to delegate work. If you see the list is too long, you can find others to help you get things done.
  • Feel productive – crossing a task off your list when it’s completed is a great feeling. This gives you back control and also gives you a positive productive feeling.
  • Relief from stress – as you see work getting done and that you are moving forward efficiently, it allows you to relax more. Even schedule in a well-deserved break if you need to!

…And most importantly….

  • Accountability – the act of writing it down in itself holds you accountable!

Try keeping at least 2 to-do lists: daily and longer term

You might find it worthwhile to have 2 lists on the go:

  1. One is for the immediate tasks you need to complete today or this week (short term plans and tasks).
  2. The other is for things that you want or need to get done in the future, whether it is in the next week, month or year (long term goals).

 Keep it flexible

Your to-do lists don’t need to be set in stone.  They are guides and are intended to help, not put pressure on you.  However, if you write it down, it’s usually something worth doing.

 Also, don’t forget to make your to-do lists fun!

If your to-do list ever feels like all work and no play, book in things you look forward to and fun things as well.  You might be meeting friends for a drink or meal (or both), a refreshing walk along the beach, checking out your next holiday destination.  Make sure to mix up the work with some fun!

…and if all else fails and you can’t seem to get to grips with writing and sticking to your to-do list, then Glow Virtual Assistants are here to lend a hand with planning and organising for you, so that you can focus on making your business ROCK!

About Glow Virtual Assistants

We’re a forward-thinking agency of skilled and qualified Virtual Assistants, specialising in supporting entrepreneurs and businesses to succeed, grow and shine!

  • We offer a range of services and tailor packages to suit the needs of you and your business.
  • Why not read what our clients say about us so you know that your business will be in safe hands.
  • Want a chat or got a question? Drop us a message and we’ll get back to you!

 If you have enjoyed reading about creating a to-do-list to make you ROCK, sign up for future blogs on our website.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – you may have heard of it, but what is it?

Did you know that Data Protection law is changing on 25 May 2018? If you run a business (large or small), you need to be aware and ready for the introduction of GDPR.

Under existing regulation, the Data Protection Act (DPA), if you hold and process personal information about your clients, employees or suppliers, you are legally obliged to protect that information. You must:

  • only collect information that you need for a specific purpose;
  • keep it secure;
  • ensure it is relevant and up to date;
  • only hold as much as you need, and only for as long as you need it; and
  • allow the subject of the information to see it on request.

Many of the GDPR’s main concepts and principles are much the same as those in the current DPA, so if you are complying properly with the current law then most of your approach to compliance will remain valid under the GDPR and can be the starting point to build from. However, there are new elements and enhancements, so you may have to do some things for the first time and some things differently.

Where to start?

Whilst a simple internet search returns numerous hits related to GDPR, many of these relate to consultancies offering their services for the implementation of, and compliance with, GDPR. For small businesses however, the use of a consultancy is not necessarily required, nor is it a cost-effective solution.

Rather, it may be more appropriate for small businesses to use the guidance and self-assessment tools provided by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) which is the approach being undertaken by Glow Virtual Assistants (https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/business/).

The ICO is the UK’s independent authority set up to uphold information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals. The ICO is an executive non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Government Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport.

Consultation on certain aspects of the regulation is being invited during January and February 2018, therefore it remains something of a moving feast.

The ICO is the UK’s representative on the EU Working Party producing the GDPR regulation, therefore is in a prime position to disseminate the evolving requirements.

What information does the GDPR apply to?

GDPR applies to Personal Data and Sensitive Personal Data:

  • Personal data

The GDPR applies to ‘personal data’ meaning any information relating to an identifiable person who can be directly or indirectly identified in particular by reference to an identifier.

This definition provides for a wide range of personal identifiers to constitute personal data, including name, identification number, location data or online identifier, reflecting changes in technology and the way organisations collect information about people.

The GDPR applies to both automated personal data and to manual filing systems where personal data are accessible according to specific criteria. This could include chronologically ordered sets of manual records containing personal data.

Personal data that has been pseudonymised e.g. key-coded, can fall within the scope of the GDPR depending on how difficult it is to attribute the pseudonym to a particular individual.

  • Sensitive personal data

The GDPR refers to sensitive personal data as “special categories of personal data”.

The special categories specifically include genetic data, and biometric data where processed to uniquely identify an individual.

Personal data relating to criminal convictions and offences are not included, but similar extra safeguards apply to its processing.

What do I need to know before completing the ICO self-assessment?

GDPR applies to ‘controllers’ and ‘processors’, so you need to understand which category you fall into, or maybe both (https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-the-general-data-protection-regulation-gdpr/key-definitions/)!

  • A controller determines the purposes and means of processing personal data.
  • A processor is responsible for processing personal data on behalf of a controller.
  • If you are a processor, the GDPR places specific legal obligations on you; for example, you are required to maintain records of personal data and processing activities. You will have legal liability if you are responsible for a breach.
  • However, if you are a controller, you are not relieved of your obligations where a processor is involved – the GDPR places further obligations on you to ensure your contracts with processors comply with the GDPR.
  • The GDPR applies to processing carried out by organisations operating within the EU. It also applies to organisations outside the EU that offer goods or services to individuals in the EU.
  • The GDPR does not apply to certain activities including processing covered by the Law Enforcement Directive, processing for national security purposes and processing carried out by individuals purely for personal/household activities.

What about understanding the personal data I have?

One of the key steps to GDPR compliance is understanding and documenting the personal data that you hold and use as part of your business.

The recommended approach is to conduct an information audit to map data flows and document what personal data you hold, where it came from, who you share it with and what you do with it etc.

The information audit is a good starting point as it’s required for GDPR compliance, but it’s also good housekeeping practice.

So how do I get started?

Well, we’d recommend you start to write yourself an Action Plan, including the points we’ve mentioned in this post. The ICO self-assessments will drive what else you need to do, so you can add these into the Action Plan once you know.

(Depending upon the complexity of your business and how you currently manage data, the Action Plan could simply become a checklist to confirm that you are already in compliance, but equally it may identify, for example, existing procedures requiring change, or new procedures to be implemented.)

And don’t forget, GDPR is being implemented on 25th May 2018, so your Action Plan needs to work back from this date!