Prepare your business for Christmas

Christmas is one of the most important times of year for any business, and it’s especially important for SMEs because seasonal spending can provide such a valuable boost in sales. Last year, the UK spent more than £78 billion on Christmas, and this festive shopping spree starts early, with more than 50% of people planning to do most of their shopping before December.

It can pay, then, to start thinking about Christmas now. Not sure where to begin? Here are some of the key ways you can prepare your business for the most wonderful time of the year.


A Soundtrack for Work

The benefits of freelancing or running a business from home are numerous, and worthy of a blog post of their own.  However, for many freelancers and business owners, there are two key challenges that come with working alone in the same space in which they live.  The first is the loneliness and isolation that comes with working solo, and the other is making the separation between home and work when they’re both conducted under the same roof.

The sound of loneliness can be deafening



If you’re someone who thrives on spending time with others, the absence of sound other than the ticking of a clock can have you counting down the minutes until the grocery delivery arrives for a brief moment of human interaction.  Also, for me, having lived with severe tinnitus for as long as I can remember, being anywhere without background noise means all I hear is the intense ringing in my ears, so I’ll do anything to fill the void of silence.


4 apps for scheduling social media posts

Managing your business’ social media can be a full-time job. If you want to stay on trend, connect with your audience and post regularly, you could easily spend all day doing it – never mind running your business!

This is where scheduling comes in. Rather than creating posts as you need them, there are apps that will let you schedule your posts ahead of time. This means you can create a batch of posts and release them when the time is right – even during unsociable hours.

To help you get started, here are 4 of the best apps for scheduling social media posts, and some advice about the best times to post your content.


How to strike a good work–life balance

This week is National Work Life Week, a campaign run by the UK charity Working Families to “give employers the chance to showcase how they provide work life balance for their staff.”

Finding a good work–life balance can be difficult, especially in the UK, where a culture of long working hours often tips the scales in favour of ‘work’. Research by Eurostat has revealed the UK has on average the longest working week for full-time workers compared to the rest of Europe, at around 41 hours per week. Evidence has shown that a skewed work–life balance can be unhealthy, leading to stress, burnout and physical health issues.

So how can we redress the balance and make sure that we get enough time for ourselves? Here are four things you can do to help find that all-important work–life balance.


8 tips for productivity

We’re back with another Top 8 list to celebrate Get Ahead VA’s 8th birthday, and this time we’re talking productivity! If you’ve ever wondered how you can get more done in the day without feeling overwhelmed, here are 8 useful tips from Senior Virtual Assistant Melanie McDowell.

  1. Schedule your days

Forget about writing to-do lists – they’re always too long and you never get to the bottom of them. Instead, I prefer to schedule every day, or even better, write out my next day’s schedule the night before I go to bed. Attaching a specific time to each task helps you keep on track and avoid distraction. Don’t forget to schedule in down-time, and time for travel between locations. When you first start scheduling, you might find that you put far too much into one day, so scale it back to what you can realistically achieve. I used to beat myself up for not ticking lots of things off my list, but it’s tremendously rewarding to see what you can actually get through in a day.


8 apps to help you nail your business finances

Managing your accounts can be the most daunting part of running a business. Fortunately, there are lots of apps out there that can make crunching the numbers a breeze. So, to celebrate Get Ahead VA’s 8th birthday, we’re bringing you 8 apps to help you nail your business finances, as recommended by our team of virtual assistants!

  1. QuickBooks

QuickBooks is one of the most popular apps around for managing business finances. There are two versions of the app. QuickBooks Self-Employed includes everything you’ll need as a sole trader, including invoicing, mileage tracking and tax estimations. QuickBooks Small Business offers all that, as well as VAT calculation, payroll, and employee time tracking. You can even invite your accountant to collaborate on the app with you!

  1. HMRC

Did you know that the government offers an official HMRC app that covers everything to do with your tax return? You can use it to check your tax code and National Insurance number, renew your tax credits, calculate the tax you owe, and keep track of any communications you’ve had with the HMRC. Even better, the app is free!


Understanding eye health at work

This week is National Eye Health Week, a vital campaign which aims to “promote the importance of eye health and the need for regular sight tests for all.”

Eye health is a hugely important issue in the UK, and yet many people still don’t understand how to look after their sight. So, to celebrate this event, we’ve rounded up the latest expert advice to help you understand eye health and show you how to take care of your vision.

The realities of sight loss

For many of us, the thought of losing our sight is terrifying. In fact, research by the RNIB has found that 44% of UK adults fear losing their sight more than other health conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or heart disease. However, sight loss is on the rise: in 2008 there were around 1.8 million people living with sight loss in the UK, and this number is projected to double by 2050.

So what’s behind this worrying trend? Modern lifestyles – and especially modern workplaces – are often cited as a contributing factor. Consultant ophthalmic surgeon Mr Ali Mearza says, “Looking at a screen requires your eyes to focus on something up close for long periods of time, and this can lead to eyestrain and headaches. Increased exposure to screens can contribute to the development of some eye conditions that intensify with age.”


More of Get Ahead VA’s favourite apps

Here at Get Ahead VA, we’re happy to let you in on some of our business secrets – the things that help our virtual assistants to be as organised and efficient as they can be. Previously we’ve told you about Get Ahead VA’s favourite apps, and today we’re back with another helping.

So without further ado, here are 5 more brilliant apps that can help you to manage your business and keep yourself informed!


Bitly is a URL-shortening app that you can install on your phone or add as an extension to your web browser. If you need to share a link with your social media followers or members of your team, just pop it into Bitly and get a shorter, more shareable version to use in its place. With this app you can also customise URLs to fit with your branding, and track the analytics for each link.


Our 8 Best Business Reads

As we are celebrate our 8th year in business, we would like to share our 8 best business reads with you – kindly compiled by one of our team – Senior Virtual Assistant, Melanie McDowell.

1.  Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker.  This will shock you into getting an early night!  Full of evidence for why we should prioritise sleep, including research about the implications of sleep deprivation on our health and well-being.  Compelling and utterly terrifying reading.

2.  View From The Summit by Sir Edmund Hillary.  I find autobiographies by people I admire to be incredibly insightful and inspiring.  This is one of my favourites, being both a New Zealander and a rock climber myself.  Find someone you admire and read their story.


‘Back to school’ for your business

September means the beginning of a new school year, and all the fresh starts and good intentions that go with it. But if you’ve been ironing school uniforms and filling pencil cases recently, you might be wondering how you can harness some of that new term excitement in your working life.

If you’re feeling stressed about returning to work after a break, we’re here to help. These 5 tips will help make the ‘back to school’ for your business a breeze!