Get Ahead VA Blog

Is your business safe? 9 cyber security tips to protect your company

It seems as though not a day goes by at the moment without cyber security hitting the headlines. Companies and organisations large and small, including British Airways and the NHS, are being continuously targeted by hackers, with some success. You might think that as a small business you are safe – that you are under the radar. But you are just as much at risk and the impact of an attack could be paralysing for your business.

You may presume that having anti-virus software installed on your machines is enough – especially if you use software from well-known suppliers such as McAfee or Norton. But experts generally agree that with the increasing sophistication of hackers that is no longer enough to keep your business safe. So how can you protect yourself?

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5 ways to manage the school holidays

The school holidays are fast approaching – and have already started for some.  Whilst the sun might be shining (we hope!) this can feel like dark days for business owners.  For working parents, the juggle of working and managing the children can be even harder – or more expensive.  For business owners, maintaining output levels whilst staff have time off can also be a real challenge.

Here are our 5 top tips to turn any holiday headaches into halcyon days:

  1. It may sound simple but breaking down tasks into what is both ‘urgent’ and ‘important’ can be a really worthwhile exercise.  You may discover that some tasks can actually be left until September as, whilst nice to do, they are neither urgent or important.  For other tasks you can see clearly what needs to be done and when.
  2. Work as a team. Talk to your team about who needs help covering which tasks over the holiday period.  Try and engender a sense of shared ownership.  Though a particular task might not usually be an employee’s area of responsibility, would he or she have the skills to cover it on a short-term basis?  What support would they need to do it?  Can training be given before holidays begin, or handover notes issued to help whilst staff are away?
  3. Plan ahead. It is never too late to plan ahead – even if the holidays have already started.  Look at what work you have coming up and when you are likely to be on holiday or short of staff.  Consider if any orders or events can be rescheduled.  Identify any pinch points where business requirements may not match staffing or availability levels and define appropriate plans of action.
  4. Talk to your customers.  They may understand about the ‘summer squeeze’ and be prepared to wait, or work with you to address only urgent requirements.  Advise customers in advance if there will be longer delivery times or delays.  People get frustrated when situations are forced upon them with no warning, or when they feel that they don’t know what is going on.  Be open and honest about any potential issues so that you can work together in a positive manner.
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. This could be from family members if you work for yourself, or outsourcing to external agencies for holiday cover.  Services may be more affordable than you think and don’t always tie you in to long-term contracts.  Find the right solution to enable you to put customer service first and maintain standards for your clients – whilst taking the break you need.

Our team of highly experienced virtual assistants are perfectly placed to assist in any aspect of your holiday cover – from admin to social media management and more.  We love to take on the tasks you don’t have time to do, don’t have the skills to do, or simply don’t want to do.  Please give us a call on 01483 332220 or email [email protected] to find out how we can help.  We pride ourselves on being the staff you don’t see, but the difference you do.

Expert showcase: How to view, store and manage files online using Google Drive

Here at Get Ahead VA our team includes experts in a wide variety of fields. From Accounting to Admin, Hootsuite to Holiday cover, Email Marketing to Excel, our VAs can add value to many aspects of your business. In our Expert Showcase series our team deliver some of this expertise to you, with a series of ‘How to’ guides to help you get the best bang for your buck in your business.

In this guide one of our virtual assistants Rachel talks about storing and sharing files effectively online with Google Drive.

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Meet the VA: Elly

Here at Get Ahead VA, our people are everything. Our ever-growing team includes a wide range of highly skilled professionals with different backgrounds, expertise and personalities to ensure we can find exactly the right virtual assistant to match our customers’ requirements.

Here’s 60 seconds with one of our VAs, Elly, who recently joined our team in Newcastle.

Name: Elly Roper

Area of expertise: Social media management, spreadsheets & data organisation, and business development.

When & why did you join Get Ahead VA: I joined the Get Ahead VA team in June 2019 after meeting Karen and Allison at a networking event. My passion is connecting people, which is why I was drawn to marketing. I love working as a VA because it gives me a chance to help regular people get their businesses seen by new clients and partners. 

What did you do before you joined Get Ahead VA:  I’ve worked in marketing for over a decade for various agencies and small businesses in the North East. I’ve focused on packaging design, general marketing and most recently in affiliate marketing. 

Career highlight to date: While working for a publishing software company in America, I managed a project where we took 2,500 pages of academic handbook edits from a large university, then updated, formatted and styled them into one perfect book held within our software. It was a massive project that had a great result everyone was pleased with!

Plans for the future: To continue helping business owners who struggle with marketing and admin tasks so they can have business coming in while spending time doing the work they enjoy.


If your business could benefit from Elly’s help, or from any of our other VAs, please get in touch on 01483 332220 or [email protected]. We pride ourselves on being the staff you don’t see, but the difference you do.

Meet the VA: Melanie McDowell

Here at Get Ahead VA our people are everything.  Our ever growing team has a wide range of highly skilled professionals with different backgrounds, expertise and even different personalities to ensure that we can find exactly the right virtual assistant to match our customers’ requirements.

Here’s 60 seconds with one of our virtual assistants Melanie who has a wealth of marketing expertise from a varied international marketing career including high profile corporate companies Eurostar and Natwest:

Name: Melanie McDowell

Area of expertise: Project Management, Marketing and Social Media

When & why did you join Get Ahead VA: I joined Get Ahead VA at the beginning of 2017, wanting to use my marketing skills whilst still being able to work flexibly around the needs of my family, and Get Ahead VA enables me to do just that.  When I met Rebecca for the first time, her energy and passion for the business made me want to be part of the team.  I particularly love that she gets the team together periodically, where we are able to share ideas and experiences.  I find I get so much energy being in a room with so many experienced and amazing people.

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VA Client Focus: Fox Davidson

Here at Get Ahead VA we are privileged to work with a wide variety of clients ranging from will writers to window cleaners and financial consultants to fashion designers.  All of our clients are motivated and driven businesses with clear plans for growth.  They recognise the value of outsourcing, passing onto others tasks that either they lack skills in, or tasks that drain their valuable time.

Here’s 60 seconds with one of our clients Wes at independent mortgage broker Fox Davidson who came to Get Ahead VA in search of some award-winning assistance:

What situation was your business in when you came to Get Ahead VA? Our business was growing strongly.  It was three years since myself and my business partner Sarah had formed the business and we were really proud of everything we had achieved.  We were keen to enter awards to gain external recognition of our success and help fuel further growth by generating good PR.

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5 tips for writing press releases that rock!

Writing press releases is a key part of PR.

Get your releases right and they’ll be published far and wide, but get them wrong, and they a) won’t generate the coverage that they deserve or b) you were hoping for.

It’s not possible to write all of your press releases in exactly the same way, but there are best practice techniques you can follow, like these:

1: THINK ABOUT HOW THINGS LOOK

Before we focus on the writing side of things, there’s just one small, but crucial thing I wanted to flag that has the potential to really impact how your press releases perform, and that’s how they’re presented.

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Expert Showcase: How to organise anything using Airtable

Here at Get Ahead VA our team includes experts in a wide variety of fields.  From Accounting to Admin, Hootsuite to Holiday cover, Email Marketing to Excel, our VAs can add value to many aspects of your business.  In our Expert Showcase series our team deliver some of this expertise to you, with a series of ‘How to’ guides to help you get the best bang for your buck in your business.

In this guide one of our virtual assistants Melanie talks about how you can organise, plan and track almost anything using an online tool called Airtable. (more…)

What is the Gig economy?

The media appears to be full of headlines talking about the gig economy at the moment.  The topic even featured in election campaigning last week, with political parties talking about zero-hours contracts and other employment related issues.  But what exactly is the gig economy and does it matter?

The gig economy is a way of working that is based on people having temporary jobs or doing separate pieces of work, each paid separately, rather than working for an employer. Source: Cambridge Dictionary

The gig economy is another form of freelancing or self-employment.  The gig economy phrase was coined to highlight the fact that people get paid for each ‘gig’ they complete.  This is in contrast to a standard employment contract – whether permanent or temporary, which would usually be based on a number of hours worked.  Famous examples of the gig economy include food deliveries for companies such as Deliveroo, taxi drivers for companies such as Uber, couriers and even independent contractors such as plumbers, in the recent employment case affecting Pimlico Plumbers.

Flexibility or exploitation?

On the one hand, the gig economy like other forms of freelancing and self-employment usually offers greater flexibility.  People can choose to work as and when they have time available, rather than being tied to a regular hours arrangement.  However it does mean that gig workers are not classed as employees, so they have no rights when it comes to things like holiday pay, sick pay or maternity pay.

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8 things a Virtual Assistant could organise for your business

Whether you are running your own business or working in one, it can easily feel as though there are never enough hours in the day.  The ‘to-do’ list only seems to get longer.  You dream of having a magic wand with which you could clear your desk and get things sorted.

What you might need is a top organiser to help you get things on track.  A virtual assistant can do just that – taking on administration, social media management and marketing tasks to enable you to get back what you do best.

Here are 8 suggestions of things a virtual assistant could organise for your business:

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