Top 10 Must-Have Tools & Resources for Startups

startup

When you are ready to set up your startup, it can be a bit confusing to know which direction to take and what resources to invest in. This list below lets you know exactly where to start when looking for the best tools to run your business efficiently.

Take Charge of Your Accounts with Xero or Quickbooks

Keep up to date with all your banking and credit card transactions while managing your cashflow.

Send Proposals and Pitch Your Work with Proposify or Qwilr

Create easy to read proposals and streamline the pitch, quote and approval process. Replace presentations with sleek, customisable and interactive interfaces.

Maintain Customer Relationships with Hubspot

Organise, grow and track your customers with Hubspot CRM software while you manage your sales pipeline keeps the process effortless.

Research Your Competitors with Moz

Learn about how your competitors are gaining their inbound traffic and target areas where you can drive customers to your business.

Stay on top of Your Website Data and Traffic with Google Analytics

Measure your website performance to see how your content and marketing efforts are working and where customers are engaging with your brand.

Manage your Social Media with Hootsuite

Save time by using managing several social media accounts on one dashboard. Monitor your brand and check what’s trending in your industry.

Communicate across Multiple Teams & Departments with Slack

Communicate and message your team, send real-time updates, save files and develop a collaborative workspace with Slack, whether you are down the hall or across the globe.

Manage your Projects with Asana, Basecamp or Skwish

Whether you are a freelancer, a solo entrepreneur, or start-up, or a small team, these tools are perfect to manage tasks, create timelines for projects and to maintain transparency with clients or customers.

Stay Connected with your Customers with Mailchimp

Build an effective email strategy with your customers and clients by staying in touch with them and sending targeted campaigns to maintain your relationship.

Keep Your Documents Organised and Collaborate with Dropbox

Securely share files across teams or with clients and simplify the way you create, share and collaborate across devices.

Receive Access to Media Pitches and Get Direct Responses with HARO

Send your stories, press releases and important company updates to HARO and provide journalists with everything they need to cover your news which amplifies your message.

Outsource To Your Own Team All In One Place With CoStartup & Go

With the amount of freelancers growing how do you know which ones will actually be good and stick about? Remove the gamble of working flexibly by using CoStartup & Go and their experienced network who all seamlessly wok together on your startup, invested unmaking it a success.

Hire Great Talent with Workable

When you are ready to find permanent talent, use Workable to source, manage and track applicants in one space from over 14 different job boards.

Join a Coworking Space to Find Opportunities to Network

A coworking space is a fantastic tool to have to be able to network and creatively collaborate with other startups and small businesses. Alongside the routine networking events, the organic networking that naturally evolves is priceless and it doesn’t hurt that it creates a great space for productivity in your business. 

Some of our fave partners include:

The Office Group

BDC Works

Mainyard Studios

Boutique Coworking

Airspace

Interested in a FOC consultation on how we can help your startup?

GET IN TOUCH

5 SEO Basics for Start-Ups

seo basics for startups

Are you building a start-up and need to know the basics of how to grow your business online organically? Do you have your website and maybe you’ve set up Google Analytics, but you are wondering why your ideal customers aren’t coming to your site and buying your products or services?

SEO, or search engine optimisation, is still one of the most important factors to making your site search engine friendly and getting customers to your site. We love the guides from Moz, SEMRush, and Kissmetrics – but sometimes, it’s good to just have the basic fundamentals for your start-up – without too much technical jargon.

Optimising your website doesn’t have to be difficult – it’s an ongoing process that is essential to growing your business and it is constantly changing. So whether you choose to adapt to the waters and keep up to date with SEO or hire someone to do it for you, let’s take a look at the crucial elements for SEO for start-ups. 

Search Engine Optimisation for Start-Ups

Keywords

When doing keyword research, think about search intent, rather than just search terms. And then make sure that your site actually uses the words that people are searching for. Know your niche and stay relevant in it. We like using Google's AdWords Keyword Tool and Keyword.IO when doing keyword research.

A blog is an excellent way to stay relevant for both your audience and for Google bots as you are constantly updating your site and staying fresh in your industry. Moreover, there is an opportunity here for harnessing rankings for long tail keywords that your audience wants to know more about.

Using a combination of keyword research, Google suggest and related search, plus your customers’ questions and comments can help you in creating a regular content calendar that keeps your brand on the top of the Search Engine Results Page.

Content Creation

One of the keys to SEO is creating and scaling keyword-targeted, valuable, and unique content. It needs to be relevant, helpful, unique, and user-friendly.

This content can be in the form of blog posts, branded images, social media updates, email newsletter, infographics, white papers, e-books, downloadable PDFs, podcasts, video, webinars, workshops – any type of content that a consumer can engage with and consume. The first step in this is to know your audience and how they like to engage with your industry. Then create a funnel that takes your customer from discoverer of your brand to buyer.

And remember, once that content has been created, don't just hit publish. Share it, promote it on a rotating schedule, analyse it, expand it, make it better, mention it to influencers, etc.

Accessibility

Another important factor in improving search traffic is to simply make your site search friendly and accessible to search engines. Search engines are limited to how they can crawl the web and your site, so making your content indexable is an easy way to ensure visibility.

What does that mean? Images should be assigned relevant alt tags, audio and video should have transcripts, Flash content should have HTML text, URL links should have crawlable structures, images should be compressed, pages should load quickly. Does your start-up’s site pass these tests? See what we mean? Quite a bit of work, but worth it to have your site structured in the right way (Let us know if you're stuck here - we can help you).

Also make sure to use Webmaster Tools (Search Console) to make sure your site and its new content are being indexed regularly.

Inbound and Outbound Links

Make sure to link to authoritative and respected sites in your industry to show your brand’s trustworthiness. And in turn, you want other sites to link back to you. Guest posting, commenting on other blogs, and sharing on forums are all great methods for providing this social proof.

But let’s take it one step further. Instead of simply thinking about buying (which Google may penalise you for) or building links, Google is more interested in how your website can earn links editorially. In other words, your website needs to be seen as an authority by other well-trafficked and reputable sites, and you have to earn your stripes with your content and partnerships.

It’s so much more important today to take the time to build relationships with influencers and sites who are willing to amplify your message and content. This can take time, but it’s also where an integrated PR, publicity and content strategy, both online and off, comes into play.

Social Media

Use social media to amplify your content. Schedule consistent social media updates at specified times throughout the day at a schedule that works for you and your audience. It’s not about spamming your customers or readers, it’s about sharing relevant and timely information to your audience and making your brand trustworthy and significant in your industry.

Quick tip - make sure that you are building relationships on Google+ and sharing your content updates there. It may be the outlier in terms of social media, but Google's algorithm makes it a must-have in your social toolbox. 

Do you need help with your site's SEO?

In 2017, great SEO encompasses so many different areas – including email, mobile, links, crawl, user experience, localisation, rankings and much more. Let's face it, a great content strategy takes time and investment.

If you’d like some help in improving and maintaining your SEO for your website, feel free to get in touch with us for a complimentary consultation to discuss the value we can bring to your startup and we can create a customised quote for you. Email us at sales@costartupandgo.com

The Best Cities For Tech Start Ups

Where once start-ups were the purview of Silicon Valley, the tech start up landscape has now gone global. As our scope of technology and communication expands, our physical limitations contract, and hungry entrepreneurs are finding more stomping grounds to build ideas and opportunities.

Where does the opportunity live on a global playing field?

San Francisco & San Jose

These two cities have long been the dominant players in the tech start up world. Home to giants like Google, Apple and Facebook in Silicon Valley, there are several other US cities, like Austin, Boston and Philadelphia that continue to make their mark are a hotbed for young talent and innovative ideas.

London, Paris & Berlin

Tech innovation is now pumping through the European economic ecosystem as its lifeblood. While these cities have always sat at the table of global thinking, there is a renewed push for innovation in the online sector. Some of the more formal barriers to new business are dropping, allowing a more connected and less traditional approach to entrepreneurship to filter through these global cities.

Beijing, Singapore & Moscow

There are a rising number of entrepreneurs and funding finding their way in the East. With a high quality of engineers and manufacturers, these cities are eager to build partnerships with start-ups that may have previously only thought of outsourcing manufacturing there.

Toronto, Vancouver & Montreal

With a growing number of venture capitalists, tax credits, and funding, these Canadian cities offer an impressive incentive for entrepreneurs to build their tech start-up. With ample room for networking and growth on a local and global scale, these cities are quite attractive.

Tel Aviv & Cairo

These young, hot cities are producing educated and willing millennials ready to test out their mettle and ideas on a global stage. Perfectly placed between emerging and established markets, tech start-ups based here can rely on an open, creative, and collaborative start-up scene.

Mumbai & Bangalore

The start-up scene here is focused on engineering and tech development and is hungry for good business and design counterparts. With a long history of tech innovation, these Indian cities are forward facing with a global outlook.

Sao Paulo & Santiago

While there are still some barriers to entry due to big business, both cities are excellent breeding grounds for new entrepreneurs and are eager for young talent to test their ideas and launch on an international scale. With stable economies, the governments are also working to attract international and talented entrepreneurs to boost their industries.

Work-Life Management & How To Find It

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As the conversation continues about work-life balance, many individuals are coming to the conclusion that it simply does not exist.  New terms are emerging such as “work-life fit” or “work-life choices”.

These are much better terms to use because “balance” is different for each individual. There is no one prescription for creating balance. It is a continuous goal which must be practiced, tweaked, and managed daily in order to achieve. Therefore, it is important for individuals to strive for an acceptable balance that works for them.

Technology has not only revolutionized the way people communicate, it has also altered the way people work by allowing for more flexibility. However, this increase in flexibility also creates the need for even higher levels of organization.

Liane Hornsey, Google VP of People Operations, is a proponent of this new, more flexible work place. She believes in measuring people with “positives”, not “negatives”. She advocates not tracking sick days or holidays and instead, looking at output. No matter how it is achieved, she understands that people need a balance between work and life, and that this differs for everyone.

“Lets face it: programmers want to program, they don’t want to do their laundry. So we make it easy for them to do both”. Eric Schmidt, CEO, Google. 

Start-ups and entrepreneurs have the option to adopt these flexible ideals into their company cultures.

Here are some tips about how you can manage your work-life balance in this new flexible and virtual age, where productivity and efficiency are still the end goal.

Be Mindful

Use singular focus and be present while completing the task at hand

Jobs can become a source of stress and exhaustion, often due to the mind worrying about present or future concerns. In order to avoid burn-out try to “be in the now” especially when you are speaking to a colleague or client. This has been proven to increase productivity and efficiency.

 “The power for creating a better future is contained in the present moment: you create a good future by creating a good present.” – Eckhart Tolle

Mindfulness is assisted through practices such as yoga or meditation     

Meditation has been shown to increase productivity at work by stopping pointless worrying and allowing the mind to become more focused and clear.

Set your intentions for the work day in the morning

This helps you stay organized and focused.

Use transitions wisely

Take a moment for yourself while in between meetings. Be consciously aware of your surroundings while walking from place to place. Take breaks for stretching or going for a walk. Along with the many health benefits, this can help you re-center yourself so that you are better able to tackle your day.

Conscious breathing can alleviate stress and anxiety

When you find yourself getting tired or overwhelmed, remember to stop and take a deep breath. Focus on your breath and create a mini-meditation.

Nourish yourself with water and healthy food choices

Be present while eating lunch or taking a sip of tea or coffee. Create a moment of peace and relish in the moment.

Bring your mindfulness home with you

At the end of the work day, remember to be present while spending time with your family and friends.

Be “All-In” But Set Boundaries To Avoid Burn Out

“The right to disconnect”

France recently passed such a law. People find it hard to disengage without traditional work boundaries, especially with the influx of technology and ease of communication. Try turning off your phone and computer at night.

Schedule, don’t “list”

Schedule things you need to complete into your calendar. This helps you clearly identify your priorities.

You have a Life

As an entrepreneur, there are always going to be many interesting ideas and things to explore. Make sure to schedule personal time with family and friends.

Use the help of Apps

Rescue time This helps with time management by helping you understand your daily habits on the computer.

Siteblock For sites that you spend too much time on, and that hinder your productivity, why not block them completely? This app also shows you how many times you tried to access certain sites while they were blocked.

Create A Sacred Space For Your Work Environment

If you are working at home, make sure you have a designated space. A room that is separate from your bedroom or living room, and has a door, is best. Also, create a space with a nice view, or faux view, and set up objects that make you happy. Choose objects that remind you to stay focused and present. You have free reign to create a space that works for you!

Want to get out of the house completely? Join a co-working space. Choose a co-working space that provides the amenities (gym, café, meeting rooms, telephone booths, roof garden) that work for you and aid your work-life balance. Choose a space that feels good to you and has the décor that you prefer. There are many co-working spaces from which to choose.

Social isolation is a growing problem with the increase of dependence on technological devices and programs. Counter this by making sure to schedule Skype meetings, or by attending networking events. If you do not particularly like networking events, enjoy the natural networking that takes place at a co-working space. It has been proven that “water station talk” psychologically benefits people in the workplace.

Ask For Support

The power of speaking to people and feeling heard is extremely powerful. Sometimes in the professional environment, it isn’t always easy to convey your personal struggles.

Use an app such as Talk Space. This app provides virtual therapy, when and where you need it.

At PA&GO we provide flexible, virtual support and advice for all of your on-going start up and entrepreneurial needs. Speak to us about what is causing you stress and work with the team to find a way to delegate tasks which will make your daily routine more manageable.

It is important to craft a work-life fit that works for you. Managing this delicate balance is more of an art than a science and one that will continue to be tweaked. Focus on the positives and celebrate the times when you feel you had it right. At the end of the day, personal moments matter most in life and are as important as successfully growing your skills and making money in the workplace.  

“Accept-then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it.” –Eckhart Tolle

 

 

Written by Alexandra Griffin, Operations Executive / Virtual Assistant PA&GO, New York

 

 

My Start Up Journey A Year In – Key Learning (Vol 1)

Having helped get more than several start ups off the ground in the last 10 years...

.....I have to admit that I don’t think that I could see myself working in any other environment!

That all hands on deck, almost boundaryless way of working and the camaraderie that taking an exciting idea forward brings, is second to none.

I remember in the early days when I was involved with helping Zulily when they launched in the UK, their growth was at such a fast pace. From a core team of just 7 of us through to 45 people within the first year, it was truly remarkable. And one of many start up journeys I have been lucky enough to be involved with along the way.

Having launched PA&GO 12 months ago now, I have learnt so much and it has been a wonderful journey thus far.

From those early days working at my dining table to seeing the brand come alive with the body of an awesome team to the enthusiasm of our clients in what we do, this has made the journey so rewarding.

So what has been my key learning in the first year? There has been so much.....

Be Prepared To Sacrifice

There isn’t always the perfect time to launch a start up. I have come across countless people who are in a full time jobs with such passion for launching their own company but stuck in the fear of the financial change.

What are you so worried about? Take it from me, it will be sometime before you will have the safety blanket of a similar income as your full time role anyway, so that is no excuse for not getting stuck in and starting.

Too big a step? What can you do in the interim to help you make the move? How much capital does the business need to start? What is the minimum that you would need to live on and get by? Could you work less hours or part time while starting?

Sometimes just taking that leap and knowing that you are driving your new business forward makes up for the required change in lifestyle to be able to do it.

‘’Nothing ventured, nothing gained’ – Benjamin Franklin

Stay Focused On The End Goal

Sheer grit and determination in your DNA is a pre requisite for starting your own company for sure!

Stay focused on the reason you started your business in the first place as the inevitable peaks and troughs come your way.

It can be tough when you are in between client invoice payments and need to pay your team, or when you get home after a long day and after putting your kids to bed have to then spend the rest of the evening working.

It is relentless, and along with that can come other peoples negative opinions or your thoughts on how others may be doing it better.

Remind yourself why you set your business up in the first place and deal with issues methodically, practically with the end result in mind and just keep moving forwards.

“You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.”  -  Winston S. Churchill

Get A Mentor

You will have heard this countless of times, however it’s true, getting yourself a mentor is such a valuable exercise when starting your own business.

Finding someone who can give you key insights into your industry with the experience of having tread the path before you is something of a must in order to gain valuable insight into what lies ahead.

It can also very much be a reciprocal relationship. Your mentor will learn a lot from being on your journey too.

Try Launch22 or Seedcamp to name a few.

“In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn.”  -  Phil Collins

There Is Enough Success In The World For Everyone

In the early days I will openly admit that I struggled with other brands that were in the same market place. I would just think that what we were doing is better and didn’t pay much heed at all.

Now, as I have grown the business, I realise that there is more than enough success in the world for everyone and a lot you can learn. I appreciate the journey that they have gone on to build their brand and that rather than competitors, they are in fact great sources for learning and potential future collaborators.

There will inevitably be others in the same market place as you, so take your time to see what they are doing. By aligning yourself with others in a similar industry and their current marketplace, you can actually increase your brand exposure and help your business grow.

In fact, some well-known brands have made fantastic collaborations or mergers with their competitors. Think of Currys and PC World or Lloyds and TSB bank.

As said, there’s enough success in the world for everyone!

“A horse never runs so fast as when he has other horses to catch up and outpace.”  - Ovid

People Will Copy You

Let’s face it, if you have a great idea or way of working at some point someone is going to come along and look to copy what you are doing.

As an entrepreneur, taking a great idea forward you are always going to be torn between the excitement of talking about your brand with others and wondering whether they are thinking at the same time how they could take your idea.

My advice is to just plough on, stay true to the reason you set up your company and know what separates you from the rest and keeps you a cut above them.

Ensure that you have the right contracts in place with your team, NDAs for sub-contractors or any other person outside of the business that you talk to about your start up. This is particularly important in the early stages.

Also be realistic, anyone can come along and look at what is on your website and gain an idea for a company. So be clear on what you can and can’t control and just focus on taking your brand forward through to success.

If someone does copy your idea, know when to invest in getting them to stop as they are a threat, or when they just won’t cut the mustard and are no threat at all.

‘’If you want to be original, be ready to be copied’’ – Coco Chanel

Embrace Your New Network

Working on and in your start-up will bring along a new world of connections especially when you start to network and take your business and brand forward.

They say you are only as good as the 6 people that you spend the most time with, so embrace your new social circle as an opportunity for personal development.

At the same time, you may find that some friends or previous colleagues are less than enthusiastic about your new venture or the changes that this brings about in you. And just as you will gain, you will also need to ask yourself whether these people have your best interests at heart or whether it Is time to move on.

Harsh but true.

‘’Strong people don’t put others down…They lift then up’’.  -  Michael P. Watson

Get Help When You Need It

Getting your start up off the ground at the beginning can require a lot of work. There is a point when you need to consider having other people on team to help you.

If you need flexible support for your start up, get in touch today.

Top 10 Must-Have Tools and Resources for Startups and Entrepreneurs

Tools and Resources for Startups

When you are ready to set up your business or startup, it can be a bit confusing to know which direction to take and what resources to invest in. This list below lets you know exactly where to start when looking for the best tools to run your business efficiently.

Outsource and Delegate to High Quality Virtual Support by PA&GO

Rather than constantly heading to sites like Upwork or Freelancer when you need small tasks or executive assistance, think about a flexible, local support team that can work for as little or as much as you need, without hassle.

Hire Great Talent with Workable

When you are ready to find permanent talent, use Workable to source, manage and track applicants in one space from over 14 different job boards.

Take Charge of Your Accounts with Xero or Quickbooks

Keep up to date with all your banking and credit card transactions while managing your cashflow.

Send Proposals and Pitch Your Work with Proposify or Qwilr

Create easy to read proposals and streamline the pitch, quote and approval process. Replace presentations with sleek, customisable and interactive interfaces.

Maintain Customer Relationships with Hubspot

Organise, grow and track your customers with Hubspot CRM software while you manage your sales pipeline keeps the process effortless.

Research Your Competitors with Moz

Learn about how your competitors are gaining their inbound traffic and target areas where you can drive customers to your business.

Stay on top of Your Website Data and Traffic with Google Analytics

Measure your website performance to see how your content and marketing efforts are working and where customers are engaging with your brand.

Manage your Social Media with Hootsuite

Save time by using managing several social media accounts on one dashboard. Monitor your brand and check what’s trending in your industry.

Communicate across Multiple Teams & Departments with Slack

Communicate and message your team, send real-time updates, save files and develop a collaborative workspace with Slack, whether you are down the hall or across the globe.

Manage your Projects with Asana, Basecamp or Skwish

Whether you are a freelancer, a solo entrepreneur, or start-up, or a small team, these tools are perfect to manage tasks, create timelines for projects and to maintain transparency with clients or customers.

Stay Connected with your Customers with Mailchimp

Build an effective email strategy with your customers and clients by staying in touch with them and sending targeted campaigns to maintain your relationship.

Keep Your Documents Organised and Collaborate with Dropbox

Securely share files across teams or with clients and simplify the way you create, share and collaborate across devices.

Receive Access to Media Pitches and Get Direct Responses with HARO

Send your stories, press releases and important company updates to HARO and provide journalists with everything they need to cover your news which amplifies your message.

Join a Coworking Space to Find Opportunities to Network

A coworking space is a fantastic tool to have to be able to network and creatively collaborate with other startups and small businesses. Alongside the routine networking events, the organic networking that naturally evolves is priceless and it doesn’t hurt that it creates a great space for productivity in your business. 

Remember, any of our virtual assistants can set up and help maintain these platforms, making your startup journey run a lot smoother. If you are ready to set up your business the right way, get in touch today.

Winning Startups

startups paul graham

How do startups win?

According to computer scientist and venture capitalist Paul Graham, they win by transcending, not attacking. In his essay "Mean People Fail," Graham mentions that having the best people and the best team available is critical for start-ups. He speaks about the way the world of work is changing and how start-ups win by having new ideas and building new things. Check out his insightful essay here.

If you are on the path of creating a great idea, and you are keen to have a dedicated and smart support team with you that can handle multiple projects, then PA&GO is for you. We understand the way the world of work is changing and we are committed to helping a new wave of entrepreneurs succeed.

Contact Sian for your free initial consultation to see how we can support your start-up or small business.

Back to School for Your Business: Let Your Business Grow

back to school for your business

It's September and while the kids head back to school, we adults head back to a semblance of a normal routine. For many parents this new month sees the start of the school run and the nervous wait at the school gates to hear all about the new and exciting things their children have learned. 

In order for our kids to grow we entrust them, our most precious belonging, into the care of others. We know how important it is for them to receive the very best skills, knowledge and tools to help them become successful in later life. Yet why is it so hard for some entrepreneurs to not put this very practice into their new businesses

Understanding that growing your business requires delegation is key. Taking the leap and hiring virtual support is the first step. In the 15 years of experience I have, every entrepreneur I have worked with has expressed of the relief and renewed focus that comes with hiring that first assistant. A reliable and experienced VA will not only complete the never ending ‘to do’ list quicker, but will more than likely do it better as that is their main focus.

Just like those parents whose time is now freed up to move on with other important tasks and priorities in their life, you as the entrepreneur can now focus on working on your business, not in your business.

This September, give your business the attention and care that it needs by allowing it room to grow in the hands of some consultative support. Any administrative or project work that can elevate your business can be expertly handled by our virtual support team. Get in touch to see how we can help your business thrive.

How to Start a Blog for Your Small Business or Start-Up

Blogging for Small Business

To answer that question, maybe we should first answer why entrepreneurs and business owners should start a blog for their business.

By harnessing the power of blogging, your small business can generate new leads, connect with customers, and ultimately build revenue. Starting a blog can effectively strengthen your SEO strategy and as you consistently build quality, content-rich pages for your site that lead back to your business, search engines reward your site with higher page rankings leading to more organic traffic.

So as you can see, blogging is an integral part of a content marketing strategy. It’s a cost-effective marketing tool, but it can also be the beating heart of your business marketing efforts in an elemental way. Your business blog is a huge piece of your business brand story. It gives your customers clear insight into what your business is all about. A blog allows your business to access a voice that engages directly with your customers and clients. This builds awareness, conversations, and most importantly – trust with your company.

On a technical level building a blog for your business can help improve your site’s SEO and rankings on SERP (search engine results pages) without you needing to spend any advertising dollars. All you need is the time and investment into creating purposeful content.

How to Start a Blog for Your Small Business 

So you want to get started, but need a step-by-step guide? Here are the elements you need to start blogging for your business.

1.     Strategise.

Gather the elements you need to build your blog as an extension of your brand. As an entrepreneur or small business owner, do you want to tell stories? Do you want to showcase your team and their knowledge or experience? Do you want to share insight about how your product or service is used? Do you want to become an authority in your niche?  Decide the blog’s tone of voice and how how it reflects upon your brand image. Fun and aspirational? Informational but informal? There are endless possibilities here.

2.     Choose a Blog Platform.

The most important thing is that your blog is professional, easy to consume and shares a balance between search-engine and people friendly. www.yourcompany.com/blog looks better than www.yourcompany.blogger.com. There are simple and affordable blog platforms like Wordpress and Tumblr, and these days, many custom sites can have a blog platform built in, like Squarespace, you just need to invest in the web hosting. TIP – check out the blogging capabilities BEFORE you decide on a web platform or designer for your main site.

3.     Gather Your Team.

Epic content doesn’t create itself. Blogging takes time and energy and while the benefits are massive, it can often take some time before you see a healthy and consistent ROI. But don’t just hire any intern to do your blogging, social media and SEO. You need flexible writers and creators who understand your industry and who can write to your company’s tone of voice while engaging an audience. We absolutely recommend hiring virtual assistants and copywriters to build a dedicated writing team. Also make sure to pick the brains of your current employees and your partners for contributions.

4.     Create a Content Plan.

Now is where you get down to business. Do some research on keywords and search terms in your industry and start building content around it. Great content can come in many forms – written articles, podcasts, e-books, video, images – anything your audience can consume. And remember, you are writing or creating this content for your readers, not for yourself. Answer their questions and cater to their needs.

5.     Stay Engaged & Consistent.

As we mentioned above, content can come in many forms so in an oversaturated market, you have to make it consistent, you have to make it resourceful, and you have to make it interesting. Keep up with trending news and media updates - find ways to integrate and connect your niche into breaking news. Give your readers a reason to comment and share. Collaborate with other networks. And make sure to post regularly to keep your site fresh.

6.     Promote Your Content.

You are not done once you hit publish. Make sure to fill your content with valuable links and mentions of influencers, and always reach out to people to help share your content. One post on a social platform won’t cut it, make sure you rotate and re-promote your content on a consistent basis.

7.     Monitor and Measure.

Make Google Analytics your best friend. Check where your traffic is coming from, see which posts are performing and which ones aren’t and refine your content plan from there. Rinse and repeat.

While building a blog is simple, making one work for your business requires thought, planning, and consistent effort. But the benefits are endless in this digital world of online marketing. If you are ready to improve your blogging game and want to invest in virtual support to help take your business to the next level, send us a message and we can create a custom package for you.

5 SEO Basics for Start-Ups

seo basics for startups

Are you building a start-up and need to know the basics of how to grow your business online organically? Do you have your website and maybe you’ve set up Google Analytics, but you are wondering why your ideal customers aren’t coming to your site and buying your products or services?

SEO, or search engine optimisation, is still one of the most important factors to making your site search engine friendly and getting customers to your site. We love the guides from Moz, SEMRush, and Kissmetrics – but sometimes, it’s good to just have the basic fundamentals for your start-up – without too much technical jargon.

Optimising your website doesn’t have to be difficult – it’s an ongoing process that is essential to growing your business and it is constantly changing. So whether you choose to adapt to the waters and keep up to date with SEO or hire someone to do it for you, let’s take a look at the crucial elements for SEO for start-ups. 

Search Engine Optimisation for Start-Ups

Keywords

When doing keyword research, think about search intent, rather than just search terms. And then make sure that your site actually uses the words that people are searching for. Know your niche and stay relevant in it. We like using Google's AdWords Keyword Tool and Keyword.IO when doing keyword research.

A blog is an excellent way to stay relevant for both your audience and for Google bots as you are constantly updating your site and staying fresh in your industry. Moreover, there is an opportunity here for harnessing rankings for long tail keywords that your audience wants to know more about.

Using a combination of keyword research, Google suggest and related search, plus your customers’ questions and comments can help you in creating a regular content calendar that keeps your brand on the top of the Search Engine Results Page.

Content Creation

One of the keys to SEO is creating and scaling keyword-targeted, valuable, and unique content. It needs to be relevant, helpful, unique, and user-friendly.

This content can be in the form of blog posts, branded images, social media updates, email newsletter, infographics, white papers, e-books, downloadable PDFs, podcasts, video, webinars, workshops – any type of content that a consumer can engage with and consume. The first step in this is to know your audience and how they like to engage with your industry. Then create a funnel that takes your customer from discoverer of your brand to buyer.

And remember, once that content has been created, don't just hit publish. Share it, promote it on a rotating schedule, analyse it, expand it, make it better, mention it to influencers, etc.

Accessibility

Another important factor in improving search traffic is to simply make your site search friendly and accessible to search engines. Search engines are limited to how they can crawl the web and your site, so making your content indexable is an easy way to ensure visibility.

What does that mean? Images should be assigned relevant alt tags, audio and video should have transcripts, Flash content should have HTML text, URL links should have crawlable structures, images should be compressed, pages should load quickly. Does your start-up’s site pass these tests? See what we mean? Quite a bit of work, but worth it to have your site structured in the right way (Let us know if you're stuck here - we can help you).

Also make sure to use Webmaster Tools (Search Console) to make sure your site and its new content are being indexed regularly.

Inbound and Outbound Links

Make sure to link to authoritative and respected sites in your industry to show your brand’s trustworthiness. And in turn, you want other sites to link back to you. Guest posting, commenting on other blogs, and sharing on forums are all great methods for providing this social proof.

But let’s take it one step further. Instead of simply thinking about buying (which Google may penalise you for) or building links, Google is more interested in how your website can earn links editorially. In other words, your website needs to be seen as an authority by other well-trafficked and reputable sites, and you have to earn your stripes with your content and partnerships.

It’s so much more important today to take the time to build relationships with influencers and sites who are willing to amplify your message and content. This can take time, but it’s also where an integrated PR, publicity and content strategy, both online and off, comes into play.

Social Media

Use social media to amplify your content. Schedule consistent social media updates at specified times throughout the day at a schedule that works for you and your audience. It’s not about spamming your customers or readers, it’s about sharing relevant and timely information to your audience and making your brand trustworthy and significant in your industry.

Quick tip - make sure that you are building relationships on Google+ and sharing your content updates there. It may be the outlier in terms of social media, but Google's algorithm makes it a must-have in your social toolbox. 

Do you need help with your site's SEO?

In 2017, great SEO encompasses so many different areas – including email, mobile, links, crawl, user experience, localisation, rankings and much more. Let's face it, a great content strategy takes time and investment.

If you’d like some help in improving and maintaining your SEO for your website, feel free to get in touch with us for a complimentary consultation to discuss the value we can bring to your startup and we can create a customised quote for you. Email us at sales@costartupandgo.com

Personal Assistant 2.0: The Rise of a New Type of Worker

personal assistant with paperwork

Personal assistants, virtual assistants, consultants, freelancers - all indispensable for entrepreneurs, start-ups and small businesses, but what do they actually do and which one should you hire for your business

As the world of work changes, so too do old job titles and job descriptions. We live in a world where the multi-hyphenate professional dominates. People are no longer defined by their job titles, but by their skills. With technology rapidly changing the normal working environment, people are setting up businesses more than ever. With a laptop and an armchair, you can now have an office anywhere in the world. And they will need support.

This brave new world of working in business has also welcomed a new phenomenon - the Personal Assistant 2.0. For freelancers, small businesses, solopreneurs and start-ups, the traditional version of a Personal Assistant has become a dated entity. Diary management and answering phones (while still important) are no longer the most important aspects of a personal assistant. 

Entrepreneurs are now looking for assistants who have a varied set of digital and soft skills that they can use in helping them grow their business - from social media management to web design, blogging to business development, event management to customer service, video editing & photoshop to SEO & Google Analytics. This new assistant is dynamic, flexible and digitally savvy. Often working remotely, they know how to use technology to facilitate their work. Meetings on FaceTime or Skype, updates on Slack, and digital project management tools such as Asana and Trello are all tools of the trade that keep these assistants connected and accountable.  (Check out our favourite tools when collaborating with your virtual assistant here). And for this new breed of personal and virtual assistant, excellent communication skills are their most valuable resource, so though they may not be in the office everyday, you'll never feel out of touch. 

As more people continue making that leap to self-employment and flexible working becomes the norm, traditional job descriptions will become a thing of the past. Personal Assistants will always be a helpful asset to any company or entrepreneur - but the assistant that can leverage new digital skills, be dynamic, and work flexibly will continue to thrive. If you think you might need a ‘Personal Assistant 2.0’ feel free to get in touch with us for a complimentary consultation to discuss the value we can bring to your business and we can create a customised quote for you. Email us at sales@costartupandgo.com

Ultimate Social Media Hashtag List for Tech Startups, Entrepreneurs and Small Businesses

social media hashtags for entrepreneurs

For an online marketer or social media executive to maintain a healthy social media presence, a strong hashtag list is indispensable. Your posts with hashtags are 2x more likely to receive engagement than without. And if you want to help grow your start-up or small business, having a handy list of hashtags is essential for staying on top of your basic social media interactions.

Here's some social media 101: hashtags help you classify your content by theme or idea. More importantly for those starting out and as you build a brand, they enable you to expand your reach to audiences that are not already following you in your network. So while you lift your voice and your content, you are also helping to grow your social media following with people who are interested and who are already following the topics that you are posting about. Here's some more detailed information on how to use hashtags to your business advantage.

If you have a social media executive to help build your presence online or if you are an entrepreneur doing your social media marketing yourself, make sure to bookmark this list  of 75 hashtags for entrepreneurs and start-ups for reference. And if you don’t have a social or online marketer on your team, then engage a Virtual Assistant to help you with your social media marketing, an often time consuming task that requires consistency in relationship building. PA&GO offers these services for entrepreneurs, start-ups, and small businesses.

75 Hashtags for Entrepreneurs

GENERAL THEMES

#startup

#entrepreneur

#tech

#techstartup

#fintech

#smallbiz

#smallbusiness

#leadership

#founder

#foundr

#BeYourOwnBoss

#entrepreneurship

#discount

#success

#networking

#economy

#global

#innovation

#AI

#socialbusiness

#socialbiz

#socbiz

#collaboration

#productivity

#management

#IT

#mobile

#apps

#smb

#mindset

#meditation

#wealth

#hustle

#businessowner

#onlinebusiness

 

DAYS OF THE WEEK

#MondayMotivation

#TechTuesday

#techieTuesday

#WednesdayWisdom

#ThirstyThursdays

#ThursdayThoughts

#ThrowbackThursday

#tbt

#followFriday

#ff

#FridayFeeling

#SmallBusinessSaturday

#SmallBizSat

 

CHATS

#brandchat

#B2Bchat

#smallbizchat

#seochat

#semrushchat

#socialchat

#contentchat

#worktrends

 

EVENTS

#events

#conference

#eventtech

 

MARKETING

#marketing

#mktg

#social

#seo

#brand

#digitalmarketing

#socialmedia

#giveaway

 

RECRUITMENT

#recruitment

#recruiting

#hiring

#newjob

#resume

#cv

#linkedin

#opportunity

#jobs

Hire a Virtual Assistant? 12 Signs Your Start-Up Needs Virtual Operational Support

hire a virtual assistant

Hiring a virtual assistant or a virtual support team can be a crucial resource for your business growth. Having an extra pair of hands and an extra set of eyes to not just accomplish administrative tasks, but to whom you can fully delegate client work or marketing efforts can be incredibly helpful.

However, many entrepreneurs will dispute their need for operational support, often times because they are unsure of all the options they have in developing a team, or because they think they can handle everything by themselves, despite their growth. If you are a start-up who wants to build a sustainable business, there's no question that you need to delegate and develop a flexible team around you. 

Here are some sure-fire signs that your small business or start-up needs a virtual assistant or a virtual operational support team.

Signs Your Start-Up Needs a Virtual Assistant

1.     You have trouble completing your most important tasks.

If you end up spending all of your time on things like diary and email management, you may be missing sight of the forest for all the trees. It’s time you get some help managing the smaller administrative tasks to continue creating on a larger scale for your business.

2.     You have trouble completing your small tasks and they pile up into bigger problems.

On the other hand, if you are spending all your time building the bigger picture, but you can’t answer emails, take calls, or go over your finances, it’s a sign you may need some help!

3.     You travel a lot and you need someone who likes working virtually.

When you are jet-setting from city to city, it’s great to have a team of support available to handle the fort at home. That being said, they may may be able to get their work done better and more efficiently in a flexible environment. 

4.     You spend more time organising than executing.

Your business success depends upon your direction and vision. But that’s only the first step. Make sure to take the time to DELEGATE and actually get work done. Quite often, you’ll realise that your vision requires more manpower than expected, and you can’t do everything by yourself, so having a dedicated team on standby is a great option.

5.     You don’t need or can’t afford a full time employee.

You may be ready to expand your team and outsource tasks, but you can’t afford a full-time employee. Rather than taking on that expense and risk, go for the flexible option and pay for only what you need and build up as your business grows. The you can stay with a support system that knows your company and grows with you. 

6.     You know what tasks need to be done but you don’t have the manpower.

When you have a desk-load of tasks and projects but you know you can’t do it yourself, it’s time to hire a virtual assistant. There are some things that an intern just can’t do and it’s great to have a specialist on-hand to help with design, social media, events, client work, etc. 

7.     You need work done that doesn’t require an office presence.

Entrepreneurs don’t have to invest in fancy offices and studios to get work done. Perhaps having an office like Facebook or google is the goal, but quite often start-ups begin in co-working spaces and home offices. When you have work that needs to be done, but not the office to do it in, a local virtual assistant can be the perfect solution.

8.     You haven’t seen your inbox with 'no new messages' in months.

Simple tasks like diary, phone and email management can be some time consuming and overwhelming to handle. Having a dedicated assistant to coordinate your day can reduce stress, help you focus, and give you time to THINK and EXECUTE.

9.     You spend more than 2 hours a day on social media with little to no ROI.

Social media is definitely an important aspect for most small business to build a consistent brand message and to speak to their customers, clients, partners and influencers directly. But the truth is that social media is about relationships. And building strong relationships takes time and effort, but it can’t be the entirety of your marketing strategy. Delegate your social media to an online marketing consultant who understands the digital space.

10.  That project you’ve been wanting to start is still on your desk staring back at you.

And you haven’t gotten it started because you were distracted by another task or project that still isn’t finished. When managing a virtual assistant, you can be assured that your projects will get done… or else why are you spending the money? Lock in your investment and now that your projects will be completed. 

11.  You would never let your clients see your internal filing system.

If there are some skeletons in your closet, or business files, have a virtual assistant come in to help clean it up. Organisation, consistency and communication are key to building a successful business.

12.  You keep forgetting important dates, deadlines and tasks.

It’s not that you’re forgetful, it’s that you’re overwhelmed. Each time you finish a task, two new projects prop up in its place.  Delegate the scheduling, research, booking travel, etc. and zone in on what your passion is. One day you may even be able to take a vacation. Maybe. 

Convinced? Become more efficient and productive, increase the quality of your work and recover some work-life balance. Contact Sian to learn more about our packages and how PA&GO can offer you and your business some much needed virtual operational business support.

Entrepreneur Essentials: It's Up To YOU

entrepreneur essentials quote

Start where you are.

Use what you have.

Do what you can. 

This is a quote from tennis legend Arthur Ashe that is completely apt for entrepreneurs. Take a look at all the resources that you have around you and build with what you have. You may actually be surprised with what you can achieve.

Become an example for getting things done and making things happen in your start-up. We've consistently found that it's only possible to achieve greatness when you have the right support team around you to lift you up.

Allow PA&GO to do the heavy lifting. Contact Sian now to see how virtual support services can help your business.

Get In Touch!

Moving Past Fear in a Start-Up

travis kalanick quote startup for paandgo

When building a start-up the most difficult aspect can just be the simple task of getting started. There is usually an element of fear that is associated with that, and taking small steps forward is the best way to productivity.

Having a dedicated operational support system in place can help alleviate doubts and fear, and also give you a sounding board of experts and specialists that work consistently for you while you build your business, at an affordable rate.

Click on the button below to contact us today to see how can help with your virtual support needs. sales@costartupandgo.com

Why Hiring a Virtual Assistant is a Good Investment for Your Tech Start-Up or Small Business

coffee shop meeting with virtual assistant

As a business owner, it takes time to build a brand, develop systems and processes, and deliver excellent results for your clients and customers. For entrepreneurs, having a business idea is only the first step. The real work is in the execution, and that is where so many businesses fail. Investing in your business with the right operational support from the beginning can make or break your entrepreneurial efforts.

What is a Virtual Assistant

Hiring a virtual assistant can be an essential step to entrepreneurial and start-up success. When you are starting out, having a capable, flexible and lean support system allows for huge productivity and forward movement in your business.

PA&GO takes that support system one step further by providing a consultative approach that moves beyond administrative tasks or project work. PA&GO becomes a one-stop shop for a quality team of operational and business support – all at affordable rates. We care about your business success for the long-term. 

There are so many areas of setting up and maintaining a business that is near impossible for one person to do everything by him or herself. That is where your virtual support comes in.

How a Virtual Support Service Can Improve Your Business

Being able to delegate and outsource your work will dramatically reduce the time spent on certain tasks for you as a business owner and increase the time you can commit to growing your business on a large scale.

Offerings like Freelancer or UpWork or hiring a virtual assistant from a traditional recruitment agent only cover part of the equation. They may be able to complete administrative tasks or projects – but when you need a comprehensive ongoing system that works for you in real-time and people who not only fulfil requests, but offer up solutions to work smarter, that’s when a company like PA&GO comes in.

Whether it’s task-based project work, part-time ongoing work, or more custom and specialised support, your virtual assistant or virtual support system should be able to adapt with you when you and your business needs it. 

What a Virtual Assistant Can Do For Your Business 

When implementing an operational support system, you are able to focus on the tasks that matter the most, streamlining your work to help you get off the ground or expand your business to the next level. Hiring a virtual assistant will:

  • Reduce Labour Costs
  • Provide Lean Office Structure
  • Reduce Employee Training
  • Give Access to a Wider Resource Pool and Network
  • Provide Flexible Operations for Founders
  • Allow You to Gain Your Time Back
  • Capitalise on Business Growth

All in all, investing in a Virtual Assistant is a critical method to move your business forward in a strategic way. Delegating your business support work to a virtual company allows you to commit to your business growth.

If you are looking to invest in a virtual support service, contact  us at sales@costartupandgo.com now and we can set you up with a Free Consultation today.