Pen Pals Newsletter | Let’s Talk!

Hello Pen Pals, Do you remember the Telephone Game? Kids would sit in a circle while one person begins by whispering a sentence into the next person’s ear. That person passes on what they heard to the next person, and on and on until it gets back to the original person. It is always so comical because somewhere, in making its way around the circle, the message loses most, if not all of its meaning.  At work sometimes communication is much like a game of Telephone. Co-workers, clients, customers, vendors, and employees can hear different things at different times. When you add a virtual assistant in your business, it is crucial that the lines of communication stay open and that everyone involved understands what is being communicated. While a virtual assistant may not be an actual employee of your business, they are part of your team. When bringing a virtual assistant to work for you, think about sharing with them your goals as a company. Allowing them some insight into business goals and how you plan to reach those goals gives the virtual assistant some buy in. Go one step further and let the VA in on the role they will be playing reaching those goals. Let them know your “Why” for doing what you do in business and how their accomplishments will be valuable to the company. This gives the virtual assistant a purpose for each of the tasks they may do for you or your company.  If you are working with a team, keep repeating your expectations. We all crave consistency and knowing what to expect and what the end result should look like benefits all parties. After meeting with a potential client for a consultation, we have a pretty clear idea of what the client wants the VA to do for them. However, when the client meets the VA for the first time, I always ask the client to repeat exactly what they hope to get out of this working relationship.  Finally, there is nothing wrong in asking for clarity. Red Pen Virtual Assistants have no problems asking questions. As teachers we learn very quickly to ask questions. And something amazing happens when you ask questions…you learn. So here’s a question…how can we help you? Best Regards, Melissa Related Posts

Pen Pals Newsletter | New Year, New You

Hello Pen Pals, The tradition of making resolutions for the new year has roots as far back as the ancient Babylonians, some 4000 years ago. Their new year happened in March when they would crown a new king and the Babylonians would pledge their loyalty to the new king and promise to pay their debts. Today, resolutions are thought of as promises to ourselves to improve something in our lives. We’ve all heard the phrase “New Year, New You“, as it’s meant to inspire us that at the stroke of midnight we get the gift of a fresh start to complete all the things we fell short of during 2023. There can be many advantages to beginning “new”, especially in business. Think about it . . .the old you worked 80 hours a week on your business, which meant that you didn’t have a very good work-life balance. As long as you are making resolutions for yourself and your business, you should think about getting some help with those day-to-day tasks that take up too much of your time. These are the tasks that have to be done, yet take you away from your core business. Red Pen Virtual Assistants is the answer for our 19 companies that we call clients. We can be the answer for you too. Give us a call, set up a free consultation so we can talk about what tasks you’d like taken off your plate, and we will set you up with a qualified teacher as your Virtual Assistant. Let Red Pen help you get organized, get ahead, and get more time to build and grow your business. I wish each of you a healthy and prosperous 2024! Best Regards, Melissa Related Posts

Pen Pals Newsletter | December 2023

Hello Pen Pals, I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I traveled this Thanksgiving so it wasn’t exactly relaxing, but it was great to see family that we don’t get to see very often. I truly hope you were able to spend some quality time with your friends and family. This newsletter is sent out periodically to anyone that has indicated they wish to be a Red Pen Virtual Assistant. Some of you are currently working with a client (or two!) and some are patiently waiting for that right client to come along. Please know that the majority of the working day is spent trying to attract clients to our business. My goal is to have everyone working with a client in some capacity. I am truly thankful for each of you and your continued support of Red Pen! We are entering the busy holiday season and we will all be taking some time away from work at some point. Even though much of the work that we do can be done remotely please be sure to communicate with your client if/when you will be taking time off. Most of the clients we have now have come from referrals. Our name is getting around the Richmond area, but we still have a lot more work to do. So how can you help let others know about what we do? Here are a few requests to help boost the Red Pen name: As always, thank you! I hope to be in touch with each of you very soon! Sincerely, Melissa Related Posts

Pen Pals Newsletter | Giving Thanks

Hello Pen Pals, I know it is very early in the month of November, but it’s never too early to give thanks. Even though the “big meal” is not for another few weeks, I want to take this time to thank the people that mean the world to us, our clients. This month, instead of just thanking them for being a valued client of Red Pen, I thought I would take the opportunity to give them a shout out in our PenPal newsletter and introduce you to some of the best companies around. Because I am organized, and not at all biased, I am doing it in alphabetical order. LOL! FileSecure You can trust the locally owned and operated FileSecure RVA to handle your confidential and proprietary data. We all know how important it is these days to keep our information private. With the services of FileSecure RVA you can be sure your documents are being taken care of properly at their verified destruction facility or by one of their verified shredding vehicles. FileSecure also offers commercial moving if your company or department is relocating. Have shredding needs, call (804) 525-6445 Hertless Brothers Hertless Brothers Roofing, owned by Scott Shufflebarger has been providing quality roofing solutions for residential and commercial customers for over 70 years. Scott and his team are some of the nicest and most professional people. If you need a new roof or you just want a second opinion, call Scott – (804)340-0181 Madison+Main is not only a valuable client, but they are also Red Pen’s Go-To resource for marketing, branding, and web. This an amazing team of talented people helped me get my business off the ground and make everything we have look like a total pro. Founded in 2005, the agency has won many awards and was recognized last year as one of the fastest growing private companies in America by Inc. Magazine. Remember, your brand is the most valuable thing you have. Madison+Main can make it better! Call them at (804) 521-4141 Stylegasm Jennifer Koch is the owner of Stylegasm. She is a stylist who believes style is about your inner matching your outer. She helps women boost their confidence and be the best dressed in the room. She wants her clients to shine from the inside out! Jenn lives in the Richmond area now, but lived and worked in Paris where she assisted stylists on photoshoots and magazine features, and worked behind the scenes at Paris fashion shows. Want to inject some style into your wardrobe, then give Jenn a call! (714) 793-8773 There are a few others that I am very thankful for this month also, including: Compass Systems, Jerry Howard International, Knowledge Advisory Group, Linda Nash Ventures, Mechanicsville Ruritan Club, RiverCross Group, Short Pump Neighbors (Best Version Media), Solar Film, and Texas Inn. So, may your blessings be many, your troubles be few and may the chairs around your table be filled with those you love. Melissa Related Posts

Pen Pals Newsletter | Spooky October

Hello Pen Pals, October can be spooky for lots of reasons, not just Halloween. In the stock market, the third Wednesday of September is known as triple witching, when three major indices that market watchers look at occur on the same day. That means that investors can get spooked even before October begins. If you look at the month of October historically, some of the biggest stock market crashes have happened in the fall, so it’s not just Halloween that makes this month scarier than others.  October is also tax time for most businesses too and there’s nothing scarier than taxes. Many businesses start their budgeting, forecasting, and planning for the next year in October and that can be a ton of extra work. At Red Pen we have some talented Virtual Assistants that can help you make October a little less scary. If you need an administrator for support, such as filing receipts and invoices, or consolidating customer statements, we have folks available. Spreadsheets? Balance sheets? PowerPoint presentations? No problem! We also have some seasoned project managers that can help you with market research or help with sales support when it comes to providing forecasting for 2024. Just call us if you need some extra help. Our promise to you: we can either help you and help you find someone that can. The reason I am telling you all this in October is because I want you to have a great January. Let us know if there is something we can take off your plate this fall so your 2024 will be happy and prosperous. Thanks!Melissa Related Posts

Pen Pals Newsletter | Labor Crunch

Hello Pen Pals, I hope everyone had a safe and relaxing Labor Day! For many, this holiday represents the end of summer and the beginning of another school year. Students are returning, but many teachers are not returning to their classrooms. In June 2023, about 51,000 teachers and other educational staff quit their jobs across America. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 567,000 fewer educators in public schools last year than before the pandemic.  A few of those teachers leaving the profession have come to work with us at Red Pen Virtual Assistants. They are recognizing the many benefits of working remotely. For our clients that work with Red Pen, remote work also has its benefits. If you’re a business owner you already know the labor market is tight. The unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been since the 1960s. Several of our clients have chosen to hire our VAs to supplement their in-house staffing. The benefits to the employer are immediate, and benefits to our clients are many; Today’s business environment, especially in the the aftermath of COVID, is topsy turvy, but forward thinking companies, like many of our clients, are making “lemonade out of lemons” with our help. How can we help you? Regards,Melissa Related Posts

Pen Pals Newsletter | VA vs VA

Hello Pen Pals, In the 1968 sci-ficlassic 2001: A Space Odyssey, HAL the computer says, “I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.” It’s the kind of line that stops you cold. The audience suddenly learns that the computer has a mind of its own. Scary stuff. HAL is a computer designed to control operations of a spacecraft on a mission to Jupiter. HAL was capable of speech, emotion, and logical decision-making. Stanley Kubrick’s masterful movie gave us a dark glimpse of a future with Artificial Intelligence. HAL was like an evil version of Alexa. For now, despite that memory, I am happy using Alexa in my home, GPS in my car, and Siri on my phone without fear of them “turning against me”. Artificial Intelligence is here and its future can’t be predicted, but certain AI tools can be beneficial in our homes and businesses. There are tools and platforms now that can help with inventory management, data analysis, and even payroll processes.  You can ask Alexa to play a song, give you a weather forecast or set an alarm so you don’t burn the brownies. But Alexa can’t make a customer service call, compile an invoice, post a pic on your social media, or coordinate your travel plans for that conference next week in Dallas. Alexa offers virtual assistance. She’s not a virtual assistant. Red Pen Virtual Assistants can use AI tools to help you accomplish all kinds of business tasks. The best part? We’re not going to turn on you and try to cut off your oxygen supply. 😉 Regards,Melissa Related Posts

Pen Pals Newsletter | From Start Up to Started

Hello Pen Pals, This month marks a milestone. One year ago, this month, I finished my business plan. I got my EIN number from the government and filled out my LLC paperwork so I could get Red Pen Virtual Assistants started. Soon after, I got my first client. It’s been a great year and a wild ride. I am so grateful to so many friends and family members, most especially my parents. There is a big difference between starting a business and being in business. Starting a business requires lots of planning, making key financial decisions, and completing a series of legal activities. In the very beginning I wrote a business plan and then, had to figure out how much money would be needed to start the business. I had to decide how to set up my business. Did I need to set it up as a sole proprietorship or limited liability company? My business also needed a name and logo to represent my new business. There was a lot to do! Now, with almost a year under my belt, my focus is more on building relationships than pushing paperwork. I joined Rotary and the Chamber of Commerce and two networking groups. I have met a staggering number of people and the experience has been amazing. Our email now goes out to more than 600 people. I have the 500+ connections on LinkedIn and a stack of business cards that weighs 4 pounds. I am building a company based on relationships. Our focus from the beginning has been to connect people and that is what I’m most proud of. How can we help you? Do you need help? Is there someone I can connect you to? Regards,Melissa Related Posts

Pen Pals Newsletter | Coffee or Tea?

Hello Pen Pals, The pandemic made many of us reevaluate how and where we were working. I know many of you left your offices in 2020 and haven’t returned. Many jobs can be done at home just as effectively as in an office. A study I recently read from last year found that 61% of people with an office available to them were choosing to work from home instead. Many folks I speak with feel that working from home helps them create a more balanced home and work life. But recently I’ve noticed many are starting to go back into the office. As I began Red Pen Virtual Assistants I was looking forward to working from home. I no longer had to be up, showered, dressed, and out the door by 7:10 am every morning. I could now slowly enjoy my coffee while checking emails. However, after a time, I realized I was missing a large part of what makes me happy as an individual. I missed talking with other people. Sure, I was “meeting” and talking with people by Zoom (all while wearing my pajama bottoms), but I missed the interactions with other people. I decided to sign up for a membership with Gather. Gather is a beautiful facility with private offices to rent and open co-working spaces. I have been very productive here and have found I’ve gotten to know a few people “around the office”. I have also learned the joys of working at the coffee shop. Richmond is fortunate to have many friendly, “non-chain” coffee shops where owners don’t mind that you set up shop at one of their tables for a few hours. My favorite is The Local Cup in Mechanicsville and around the corner from my house. The Local Cup is truly a neighborhood shop and owners Christian and Jake make everyone feel welcome. They have recently expanded their space, and each time I go in the majority of the tables and sofa seats are occupied. It is an open and airy space that is warm and inviting. Their in-house roasted coffee is delicious and the baked goods are divine. (One of our Red Pen VAs is the assistant baker!) I highly recommend the butterscotch scone. So good! Another coffee shop I enjoy is Perk! A bit out of my way, but when I am in between meetings I enjoy stopping in to this Bon Air shop. Also a very popular spot, Perk! has a funky vibe in a small space. Their coffee comes from local roasters, as do many of the ready to eat food items they have stocked on shelves in the store. Perk! offers a large selection of homemade breakfast and lunch items, and of course, the tasty baked goods. I sampled a walnut chocolate chip scone with a Chai latte when I was there last week. Delish! So, I’d love to hear where you enjoy working. If you are back in an office I’d love to hear how it is going and if things have changed much since the pandemic. Or are you able to sneak into a coffee shop every now and then to get some work done? If so, which is your favorite? Regards,Melissa Related Posts

The #1 Question I Am Asked About Virtual Assistants

How do I hire a virtual assistant?

How Do I Go About Hiring a Virtual Assistant? That’s the most asked question of me since beginning my business and trying to let as many people as possible know about our amazing Red Pen Virtual Assistants. The answer is quite simple. Call me. Yup, that’s it. Call me! Perhaps you have realized that you really do need to bring in a little help so that you can focus more on growing your business. Do you need someone to capture business cards to your CRM system, someone to moderate blog comments or someone to process customer service emails? How about someone to research presentation topics or track and notify you of impending deadlines? Call me, and we will set up a consultation so that you can make me aware of what your business needs are. From there, I will set you up with the most capable and experienced Virtual Assistant for your needs. That’s all there is to it. Just call me! 804-781-4412 Now, if you really want to email me, that would be perfectly fine too! In the email, you are certainly welcome to provide a bit of insight as to what services you are looking for, but I will still call you for a consultation. If we are going to be working together, I’d like to at least hear your voice! Related Posts