You may not realize all that Crowned can offer your business. As we grow, we’re excited to expand what we offer our clients in 2021. From our usual Operations Management plans to one-time projects (request a proposal here!), to our new Digital Library, Crowned is excited for the next chapter in how we help businesses thrive!
We’re Web-Ops Experts
Crowned consults with a focus on Operations Management. We have years of experience consulting on the how-tos of digital transformation, creating process-driven organizational structures, and custom operations analysis.
We’re Operations experts, which includes quite a bit, from setting up and training you on your CRM software, to onboarding your team, to launching products and services; Crowned has you covered.
We offer bespoke operations consulting because we believe that there is no “one size fits all” approach to operations management. With our expertise, we’re able to see the forest for the trees and craft a plan that suits your specific needs.
We Help You Use Digital Tools Better
You’ve probably heard the buzz phrase “digital transformation” out there in the entrepreneurial networking world. Digital transformation is the implementation of software to streamline business processes and operations. Digital transformation includes using CRM (customer relationship management software) and project management applications to improve efficiency and productivity. It also involves replacing outdated software and applications with newer digital technologies and launching new websites and digital products– a common issue we tackle with our clients!
We can’t tell you how many times we’ve met with clients who aren’t using their CRM software to its full potential. We step in and audit how you’re using your tools and help you use them better. From data management and creating custom dashboards to automating marketing emails and automating workflows, we know how to help make your day to day processes more manageable and efficient in your CRM.
We Help You Launch Products Better
Crowned is here to help with your pre-launch support needs. Launching a new product or service takes months of planning and can be overwhelming without the right support.When it comes to pre-launch product and service launches, Crowned knows the drill inside and out. We create a systematic plan of action for your products and services, provide research, pre-launch support, and goal setting strategies for workflows, operations, and finance. We walk you through the process from wherever you are to ensure your launch is a success.
We Help You With One-Time Projects
We’re so excited to be offering you our expert assistance with one-time projects. This service is an excellent fit for clients who may have a large project but may not need all the benefits offered in a plan.
To take advantage of this service, all you need to do is is request a proposal from us, and we will be in touch as soon as possible to see if we’re a good fit for your project. Fill out our form here to request a proposal.
Digital Products to Help Your Learn
We know how challenging it is to find reliable information that’s proven to help you succeed. At Crowned, we want to help you flourish, so we’re thrilled to offer our very own content library in early 2021. The digital library will include freebies as well as more in-depth digital products for purchase, such as Onboarding checklists, Executive Bio templates, Operations Roadmaps, Business Planning guides to steer you through some of the most challenging aspects of running a business, and much more. We hope this will be a valuable resource as you start your journey as an entrepreneur.
Ready to Get Started?
Sign up here to be amongst the first to gain access to our new Digital Library.
Want more information? Check out our support page here!
If you haven’t had at least one video call in the last eight months, maybe you’ve been in a cave? 2020 will undoubtedly be a year for the history books, and one of the things we’ll probably all remember is the joys (and sorrows) of the many video calls we’ve attended. Meetings of any sort usually aren’t a favorite activity, and if you’re reading this, you’ve likely been on a video call before and have an opinion on them.
The “Zoom Call” has become part of the collective vernacular, with some praising it and others condemning it. Those who criticize the remote work ritual of the video meeting aren’t looking at the big picture. Sure, meeting in person can help boost your mindset and spur creativity, but to admonish remote work as “unproductive” after less than a year of data during a global pandemic is myopic. (Read our blog on WFH best practice in the “before-times” here!)
For some, video conferencing is old-hat, especially for veteran remote workers. Others who have had the WFH world thrust onto them since March have had to accept a new pace of life for the foreseeable future.
We at Crowned are pros at conducting remote meetings with video conferencing tools, and we’re here to make your new WFH routine a little easier. Let’s dive into some of the caveats of video conferencing and best practices of how to stay professional while probably still wearing slippers.
Video Conferencing Best Practices
1. The right software
There are loads of free video conferencing tools to choose from, and selecting the right one for your team can be daunting. Zoom seems to have become the “Google” of video calling in 2020 (remember when everyone called video calls “Skyping”?). Zoom is a popular choice for many reasons, including for security purposes and for meetings that require more seats. However, unless you have a paid plan, your sessions will get cut off at the 45-minute mark. While you can always sign back into the same link to resume the meeting, that’s not the most professional look for most.
We at Crowned us Google Meet for most of our smaller team calls. Most video conferencing software has similar tooling, save for the few pitfalls of the Zoom free-plan. Make sure you try out whatever software you end up using to familiarize yourself with the mute, share screen, chat window, and hide yourself buttons before you’re live on a call.
2. Camera Angle
No one wants to see up your nose. Position your webcam to be level with your eyes, and be sure that you look at the camera while presenting and not the screen. It can be hard to remember to look at the camera when you can see yourself, and turning off the view of yourself can help with this.
3. When not presenting, mute!
Don’t t be afraid to use the mute button! It’s polite to mute yourself when you aren’t presenting or speaking. It may also be appropriate to disable your camera as well. Doing so allows you to grab a snack, type out notes without the annoying clicking sound, sneeze, and tend to your kids or pets who might interrupt your meeting. Muting yourself is a professional courtesy on many levels.
4. A Strong Internet Connection
With the state of broadband infrastructure being suboptimal in most places, it can sometimes be challenging to have a seamless connection during a video call. There are a few things you can do if your internet connection isn’t great. You can tether to your cell phone and use your mobile data if it’s faster than your wifi connection, or you can use the hardline to your modem if your wifi router is a little on the slow side. Either way, if your connection is subpar, do everyone a favor and turn off your video because audio-only calls are a million percent better than a bad video connection.
5. Respect Timing
As a rule of thumb, respect your client’s and colleague’s time and do not go over the allotted meeting time on your call. If you have a tight beginning and end time set, you may need to make the meeting longer, because inevitably the beginning of meetings involve a few minutes getting everyone connected. Set a 5-minute warning timer for yourself if you tend to stray off topic during sessions. If you use the free version of Zoom, there is a 45-minute max meeting time for any call. The call will automatically disconnect after a pop-up warning after 45 minutes (as mentioned early, you can always sign back into the same link). If you want to have more extended and uninterrupted meetings, use a free tool without the time constraint, like Google Meetings, WhatsApp conference calls, Skype, or one of the many other free tools available. If you need the ability to have a large audience, Zoom is still our favorite.
6. Hardware & Permissions
Computer speakers are usually not the best, and, most annoying of all, they can cause an echo on a video call. The best way to mitigate this is with a good pair of headphones. Wired is best unless you have Apple products (both computer and Bluetooth headphones). It’s worth investing a little bit in some nice ones, especially if you’re a heavy meeting person. Either way, I’d recommend noise-canceling headphones, especially if you have kids, pets, or a partner also working from home in the same room or area.
A good mic is also crucial. Most good headphones will have you covered here. If you present a lot and work with higher-end clients, invest in a high-quality mic. It will make you sound like you’re in the room with the person on the other end and filter out any distracting background noise that can make you sound less than professional.
You’ll also need to make sure your computer or phone has the proper permissions set for access to your webcam and microphone on your call BEFORE you get on your call.
Natural lighting is always going to make you look your best on a video call. If you don’t have access to a window, buy yourself a natural light lamp or a selfie ring light. You’ve probably noticed these on the news lately, especially in the reflections of people’s glasses! Thankfully, you can get a good one without breaking the bank, and they’ll make you look fresh and not like a quarantined couch-slug.
8. A Quiet Space
I realize that this can be a tough one, especially with partners or roommates working from home, kids doing online learning, and just life happening, but there are some ways to make this happen. If you don’t have a room you can dedicate as an office, try to carve out a little nook to make into your workspace. I’ve seen many creative workspaces with the uptick in WFH, including a closet-office, working from inside a bedsheet tacked up around a desk, and even working in a bathroom! If all else fails, getting a good set of noise-canceling headphones and a good mic will help you and your clients in the case of any occasional background noise. Also, never forget that mute button!
9. Etiquette: Food, Bathrooms, Attire
I know it’s hard to work from home; I get it. Sometimes we miss lunch or break time, and you just gotta wolf down some Doritos or take care of personal business during a meeting. If this is you, do your audience a favor and mute yourself and turn off your camera. No one wants to see you licking your fingers while going over KPIs, or hear the flush of a toilet whilst discussing Q3 goals.
The same goes for your appearance. Dress as you would for the office in most cases and avoid wearing shirts with writing on them. If you wear a shirt with something like a band name or political message, angle your camera so that it’s not in view. The same goes for your background. If your space is cluttered or busy, use a simple background in Zoom to hide it.
10. The Chat Feature
All video conferencing software has a chat function. Use it! It’s a great way to ask a question without interrupting, or you can have your attendees post a hand raise to get in the queue to ask a question verbally in an organized way. For meeting notes, I usually take notes on meetings in Slack in my own direct message window and also type out any questions I have before a general post to a public forum.
The Future of Meetings
Meetings are likely forever changed, along with many other aspects of working, due to the pandemic. But it’s not all bad! Hopefully, this new normal of video meetings will make many folks see the need for fewer meetings. As the adage says, “That meeting could have been an email.”
As anyone who reads anything on the internet has probably noticed, “self-care” is a popular buzzword going around right now. In normal times (what are those again?), it’d be just a nice reminder to go for a vacation, go to a yoga class, or indulge in your favorite restaurant, but in 2020, the concept of self-care has become a bit different. Let’s talk a bit about how you can “put your oxygen mask on first before helping others,” as those old apparitions known as cabin-crew used to say to us when we still rode on planes.
What is Self-Care?
Self-care is just that, caring for yourself. It’s a conscious effort to engage in activities that enrich you in whatever, constructive way you feel you need. A lot of us are accustomed to helping others, keeping our clients happy, and doing what’s best for our organizations and can often forget about number one. Taking care of yourself can be extremely difficult, and I speak from experience; it has to be a conscious choice to take actions that are specifically for you. There’s nothing magical about self-care; it’s about whatever it is that is constructive and enriching to you, be it going for a run or baking cookies.
Take Time Off
Americans aren’t known for their vacation habits. The US ranks last of the 36 wealthiest countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, mandating zero, yes a big old goose egg zero, paid vacation, or holidays. The United States is the only country in the group “that doesn’t require employers to give workers annual paid leave, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research.” Queue sad trombone… So once you’ve got your time off request approved, what to do in the days of Covid?
Air travel isn’t as attractive as it was just a few months ago. There has been a whopping 73.7%: reduction in commercial flights in April compared to 2019 as tracked by Flightradar24. This isn’t the end of the world, in fact, the drop in CO2 emissions is a short-term silver lining.
Gratify your itch to travel in the great outdoors. No need for TSA pat-downs or tiny liquids bottles! Now is a great time to explore your local area and camp out. Camping has boomed this summer, with camping gear and RV sales at record highs. Just be sure to be kind to the nature you’re enjoying, and practice self-care by not leaving trash at your campsite.
The staycation is maybe your safest bet for 2020. No matter where you live, you can be a tourist in your own town, or even in your home. There are bound to be parks and nature areas you’ve never seen before, restaurants you’ve never had take-out from, and shops you’ve not noticed. Get out the old Google map and have a look around your area for some solid me-time. And if you’re more of a home-body, why not get that garden going or work on some DIY projects around the home? You won’t be alone in your home improvement endeavors in 2020!
Enjoyment of whatever sensible lark you love is radical self-care. Maybe there’s a series on Netflix you can binge for a weekend, or you could let yourself sleep in for once, or pop into your local massage therapist’s for a spa day; read that trashy book you’ve secretly wanted to read; buy those cashmere sweatpants you’ve been obsessing over. Do whatever it is you crave without guilt or judgment. Revel in indulgence. In the wise words of Retta, “treat yo sself!”.
Get a Hobby
Work, work, work, work, work. That’s the mantra it seems from grade school to the grave. With all this toiling, we’ve forgotten that we also need to do, well, other stuff, just for the enjoyment of it. That can be anything from training for a marathon, crafting, cooking, working on old bikes, birdwatching, or losing yourself in a jigsaw puzzle. It’s been shown over and over that hobbies make us happier, so enjoy yourself. Here’s a list of 20 hobbies to boost those happy hormones. So dust off that old craft box, learn a new skill, or take the time to explore your interests with wild abandon.
There’s no better time than the present to do something nice for yourself. Getting into the practice of self-care will allow you to be not only more productive and fresh at work, but also kinder and more patient with yourself and others. Gleaning more satisfaction out of life is what it’s all about, so cheers to you!
Why do people tend to pay more for goods, services or support? Because of the value, they’re receiving in return. If an individual is hiring someone to work in the typical office environment they would be compensated according to their skill set and experience. So why should it be any different when hiring remotely?
In this remote industry, it can be difficult to determine what price is the right one. Knowing what you want out of your Administrative Consultant is the easy part. You want highly skilled, competent individuals to provide you and/or your team quality support. The only difference is your Administrative Consultant is not your employee and there is no resume to use as a reference. So, how do you find these individuals? There are social networks such as LinkedIn where experience is laid out in a profile and some may even have recommendations. If you ask, most Consultants don’t mind providing you with their background experience either. Websites are also a great way to get to know your Consultant. Things like support options, pricing, contact information and background experience should be included. Personally, I like to have a call with each potential client to find out if we’re a good fit. By speaking to my clients first, I’m able to learn more about them and decide if the support I provide will be beneficial. These calls usually consist of support needs, getting a little background on one another and how your consultant works on a day-to-day basis.
After you’ve finished the vetting process the next question is cost. What should an Administrative Consultant charge? When thinking of payment my advice is to consider these factors:
Their time is valuable– Most consultants have multiple clients, so they’re likely juggling many projects and tasks at one time.
Cost versus quality– I think this speaks for itself, but ultimately it’s up to you.
What type of support is needed?– Will you be needing daily interaction, single projects etc?
Skillset– Do you need support that includes an enhanced skill set such as content creation, graphic design, bookkeeping, marketing, or advanced administration skills?
Experience– This is a tricky one, you may feel fine working with someone who is just starting out. I’m mean, they have to start somewhere right? I would just make sure that the individual has some background experience in the type of support you’re needing. Of course, there are seasoned professionals with lots of experience, I have ten years and counting myself. So, the way I run my business may be different, it’s really about collaboration and finding someone who will bring value to you and your business.
Remember, when you decide to work with an Administrative Consultant do your research. Take the time to properly vet the individual and consider all the factors above. By doing that, I think you will have a better grasp of what makes sense for you. After all, you’re choosing to work with an Administrative Consultant because you need quality support. You’re leaving important aspects of your business in their hands. They should be compensated accordingly.
We all make mistakes, so how should we handle them?
Does the circumstance matter? Should our clients be privy to every mistake that is made? In my experience, it’s best to take these 4 steps when you find yourself in such an unfortunate situation.
Learn from it
Acknowledging the mistake means taking responsibility for the error that was caused, plus this will prove your credibility. Depending on the size of the mistake, you should consider disclosing it to your client as well. I’m not talking about a little mistake you can easily fix. No client wants to be bothered with every little thing. I’m talking about something that can be detrimental to the workplace. It is essential that you bite the bullet and spill the beans no matter how hard it may be. You don’t want to be caught in a lie down the road if you never disclosed the mistake in the first place.
Learning from your mistake. Now, this is important because you don’t want to be repeating the same mistakes over again. Write it down, set reminders, practice, etc. Do what you have to so the mistake is not made again. Remind yourself to double and triple check everything prior to moving forward. This will make it less likely for another error to occur.
Fixing the mistake. Since you were the one who made the mistake, it is now your responsibility to correct it. Sometimes the timing alone can be essential, so make sure to correct the error as soon as possible and go out of your way to ensure it has been fixed correctly.
Now you can breathe easily and move on! Take it easy on yourself, don’t spend time focusing on the mistake you made and the reasons why. That will just cause you to worry, and worrying can cause more mistakes. If you follow these 4 steps I guarantee the likelihood of making another mistake will decrease dramatically.
Remember we all make mistakes every now and then, but how you handle them is what makes all the difference.
We all have our own scenarios and reasons as to why we’re not feeling motivated. You went to bed too late, woke up too early, or you’re just not getting enough sleep in general. It could be that it’s Friday and your entire week has been exhausting, or it’s Monday and you are not quite ready for the week ahead. Whatever the reason, we all have them. So I’ve come up with some quick tips to help you get going when you least feel like it.
Set Your Alarm: Not only will this wake you up, but I find if I set my alarm 30 minutes before I actually want to get up, it helps get my brain in ‘wake up’ mode.
Give yourself at least 20 minutes to mentally prepare for the day: I’m not good when I’m running late. I like to take my time with my morning routine. I like to get my coffee ready, my workspace all set-up etc. When you’re prepared, you’re more likely to feel motivated for the workday.
Make a list: I don’t know about you, but I like to know what needs to get done each day. I like to see it in front of me, on paper. Not just what is on my calendar, but all of the small things that need to be accomplished before days end. Crossing those things off my list just adds to my motivation.
Set a big goal for the day (something do-able): At the bottom of my daily list I like to set one large goal for the day. This could be working on a major project you have going, creating content, or that one thing you’ve been putting off for weeks. This should be something you can get done in a day.
Routine, routine, routine: This is the most important step! Make a routine for yourself. This is essential if you want to get things done in a timely manner. The more you do it, the more likely it will become repetitive. Having a routine will make you feel efficient, confident and eager to start your workday. This is a major step for motivation, so jump in!
Are you equipped with the right tools to complete your daily duties? Ask yourself these questions:
Do you have several unfinished tasks?
Is your calendar overwhelmed?
Are you always racing against the clock?
Do you have several unanswered emails on a daily basis?
If you have answered yes to any of these questions, your toolbox may be lacking. Let me explain, we all know that every task needs a proper tool in order to complete it correctly. After all, that is what we’re aiming for right? Not just finishing the job, but completing it the best way we can, consistently. These tools will help to do just that, they will allow you to finish these tasks while staying on track, and they’re more accessible than you might think.
Delegating is one important tool that will help get your tasks finished throughout the day. If you delegate your least important tasks, you will likely get more accomplished in the long run. You can delegate things like scheduling, inbox management, transcription, research, and so much more. Finding a good team member is fundamental to the delegation process in order to be successful. If you are working with someone like me, getting you started with an outline of tasks for the week will save you much needed time.
Project Management Apps are so helpful when you’re working with a team, or several projects at once. They keep everyone on track by providing updates, allowing team members to ask questions, move due dates, add new projects, check off completed projects, etc. Some apps allow you to leave notes, or messages for the rest of the team and provide calendars to include upcoming projects.
Social Media and Content Management tools These tools help you streamline your social media posts and content. You can post to several sites at once, and even set specific dates for posting all in one place. You can create your content in advance, so there is no more worrying about posting on a daily basis, or to several individual sites.
Team messaging Apps like Slack, HipChat, Same page, or Google hangouts are great for real-time messaging. You can provide updates on existing projects, ask questions, or give team announcements. You can even private message a member of your team or group. No more waiting for an email response. You can use these apps straight from your computer, your phone, tablet or other mobile devices.
Browser Extensions This tool is my personal favorite. Depending on the browser you use, there are many options that can make simple tasks go by much faster. Like researching content: you can install an extension that will pull similar pages for you. You can use these to integrate with other services, or use them to modify, and add features to your browser. I would suggest limiting your use with these, and only install what you know will be beneficial to you. You don’t want to weigh down your browser with unused extensions.
I’ve done several expense reports for a variety of my clients. Things that are typically included are: flights, checked bag fees, dinner/lunch meetings, hotels, rental cars, Uber, taxi’s, concert tickets, misc purchases, credit card transactions, and much more. So, with all of the receipts that are acquired during a single trip, or on a daily basis, how can one keep up with the loot?
My solution, use mobile apps! There are so many available these days it’s hard not to take advantage of their services. These apps allow you to take a photo of your current receipt and it will automatically log that information into a single spreadsheet. Some will even match your credit card transactions, categorize receipts, track company policies & procedures, etc, etc. Saving you, or your Administrative Consultant valuable time. If you’re consistent, utilizing these apps is a great solution! However, there are some companies that do not offer these easy solutions or busy entrepreneurs that do not want to deal with using apps. That’s okay too! You know how it goes, there is a prefabricated spreadsheet that you must fill out manually, entering every receipt, category, or reason. Then you have to submit it to the correct department, attach receipts blah, blah, blah.
As a virtual Administrative Consultant, my goal is to make things easier for all of my clients. So I’ve come up with 6 simple tips to help this process go smoothly, regardless if you choose to go the app route or not.
6 tips for Managing Expense Reports with ease:
Take a photo of each paper receipt you receive: Even though the apps work great for this I would still take one extra step, and email those photos to yourself, or your Administrative Consultant. (Pssst- you can even text the photo to your Admin Consultant) Just so you don’t have to worry about losing the paper receipts. It’s better to be safe than sorry, and you won’t need a scanner.
Use your email to your advantage: You can easily set rules or filters to manage specific incoming emails. For example: If you receive Uber, or Google Apps receipts through email, then you can create a filter to put those emails in a specific folder. That way it keeps your newly received receipts organized, and separate from your inbox.
Create a folder for each month to house all of your emailed receipts and statements: This is important. You need a place to house all of your receipts, and credit card statements. Even if you’re using an app, you need a point of reference in case of a mistake. I would keep this folder in your preferred cloud storage system, or in a secured area on your computer. Your Administrative Consultant can also do this and share the folder with you, or vice versa.
Make time to compile the data: Now that you have a folder with all of your receipts and statements in one place, what’s next? Fill out the report as you go! I highly suggest this, because it will save you time in the long run. No one wants to go through a month of receipts all at once.
Submit your receipts: Companies usually like receipts in one nice PDF document. But, if your photos are in a JPEG format, how does this work? Well, you have some options: you can use a program to convert these for you (sometimes for a small fee), or delegate this task to your Administrative Consultant. I usually have the task of converting these for my clients, it also allows me to double check the entered data as I go.
Double, and triple check!: Before submitting your monthly expense report, just go through and check everything once again. If you’re using a spreadsheet make sure all of your formulas are correct, showing the right amounts. If using an app, check to make sure all receipts are included in the correct amounts. There is less error when using apps, but sometimes a mistake can be made.
Hope this list helps you to become more efficient and productive when managing expense reports. If you need some additional help, contact me at email@example.com
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