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Celebrating Administrative Professionals’ Day

Administrative Professionals Day, 22 April 2015

Next month on Wednesday, 22nd April 2015 my team will be receiving a small gift from me as a ‘thank you’ for their support and dedication. I am grateful… Dawn has been working with me since 2008, Nicole since late 2011, Elizabeth since mid 2013, Jenifer D and Jennifer M since late 2013. Anna joined us mid 2014 and Aarti this year. We also have a graphic designer who I’ve worked on and off with since 2008 and our tech guys have been around for 2-3 years.

My gift is in honour of Administrative Professionals’ Day, previously known as Secretaries Day and National Secretaries Week.

This unofficial holiday encourages managers and small business owners to acknowledge and give thanks to their assistant, secretary, administration assistant, receptionist, office manager and all other valuable administrative people.  The Bauhinia team often go out of their way to assist our clients and in most cases, we keep it under the radar, so I feel their efforts deserve to be recognised.

Originally organised by the National Secretaries Association, which is now known as the International Association of Administrative Professionals, the holiday was established in 1952 to recognize secretaries’ contributions to the workplace and attract new skilled office workers.  These days the industry is huge worldwide; in the United States there are more than 22 million administrative and office support professionals, in Canada there are more than 475,000 administrative professionals, and there are as many as 25,000 virtual assistants worldwide – imagine if we had the numbers from the rest of the world!

You don’t need to be over the top in your gift giving; you can acknowledge how valuable your support person is by sending a heart-felt email saying thank you.  I hope you take the opportunity to show your appreciation on Administrative Professionals’ Day.

Business Consultant, Mentor, Virtual Assistant

Aarti Mataney, Client Manager

Aarti Mataney, Client Manager

Aarti Mataney is our HR Hotshot and Administration Expert.

Aarti Mataney, Client ManagerAn experienced Human Resources and Administration Professional, Aarti has the ability to connect and empathise with people across various roles and industries. With industry experience in the Financial Services, Telecommunication, and Education sectors, she enjoys planning, organizing, working within tight deadlines, and most importantly – getting things done right. Aarti is passionate about employee engagement, training, and development, and is skilled at gaining distinctive insight into client perspective, honoring what is of utmost importance to them.
She is fluent in English and Hindi, and is a certified TESOL Instructor (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages).

Aarti holds certificates in Hong Kong Employment Law, Human Resources Management, and Global Business Management, as well as a B.Sc. in Business Administration from the University of California, USA.

Bauhinia Solutions Flower

WordPress vs Joomla! Which is the better?

WordPress vs Joomla, Which is Better?

Ah the great debate… WordPress vs Joomla!, which is the better software to use? Before I get into the pro’s and con’s, let me start with what they both have in common.

They are both popular content management systems (CMS). A CMS is a type of website software that allows for easy publishing, editing and deleting of content. Both systems are open source, and therefore free to download and use. This means that they also have a strong developer community and offer additional functionality that can be ‘added on’ to the basic software – these are known as ‘extensions’ in the Joomla! world and ‘plugins’ in WordPress.

With millions of downloads, there are approximately 50 million sites built using Joomla! and 65 million sites build using WordPress, here is where they are different:

  • Joomla! is a very robust platform for mid-sized eCommerce sites. WordPress has this capability due to the extensive plugins available however isn’t as robust as an eCommerce platform.
  • Joomla! has the capacity, behind the scenes, to file, search and organize a large number of articles, however due to WordPress starting as a blogging platform, the management of articles (posts) is a little less streamlined.
  • Joomla! unfortunately lacks SEO capabilities and to get your site to a good level of search engine friendliness, you do have to invest in someone to implement SEO strategies for you. As for WordPress, search engines love the software and you can easily implement your own strategies on individual pages, posts and on the overall site.
  • Joomla! allows for multiple authors, as does WordPress, however WordPress allows you to allocate your users different levels of access.
  • Joomla! has thousands of add on’s (extensions) whereas WordPress has hundreds of thousands – both offering paid and free options.
  • Joomla! is not as intuitive as WordPress and therefore a basic user may find it difficult to navigate, update their content and back up their site if using Joomla!.
  • Joomla! and WordPress are both attacked on a regular basis by hackers and therefore it is important to ensure your site, which ever system is being used, is using the latest versions of the software, and has additional security add on’s installed. If using free add on’s you do need to ensure they are being updated as well, otherwise when updating the basic software, the additional features may not work properly. WordPress does release new updates more regularly than Joomla!.
  • Joomla! has a blogging extension, however it doesn’t allow for comments, which means you cannot engage your readers. WordPress is a blogging platform and makes it easy for readers to leave comments on your blog posts, categorise your posts and this is where you really benefit from the search engine optimization capabilities.

For a small business owner with a ‘brochure’ website, you need to be able to manage, update and back up your website without relying on a web developer every single time.

Due to the intuitiveness of WordPress, the system caters to the most basic of computer users and therefor, updating a single page is easy.

Another major factor all small business owners should consider is search engine optimization, and with fact that Joomla lacks SEO capabilities, WordPress is the best option if you want to be found on the Internet.

As someone who has used WordPress since 2006, I’ve seen the software grow from a basic blogging platform to being the most popular software being used for all sorts of website from the basic brochure site, to membership sites, to news sites. If such sites as The New York Times, Forbes, CNN, The Rolling Stones and Sony are using it, you, as a small business owner can’t go wrong.

Business Consultant, Mentor, Virtual Assistant

Sorting Regulatory Paperwork

Support by Bauhinia Solutions

We have a client, who he is the first to admit he’s not great with the fine details of dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s. He was struggling with all the paperwork that he had to submit to a regulatory body and as a newly formed business, he thought he could do himself. When he discovered our services he immediately jumped on the chance to utilise our admin skills.

Our Support:

We spent some time with our client understanding all the legal jargon and sorting regulatory paperwork requirements. Then we contacted the regulatory body and asked for guidance on the errors that had previously been made. As we were learning we were also creating standard operating procedures for each step, as there were a number of forms, documentation and signatures required. We also created templates, rather than recreating a new document each time.

Within two months of starting, we had a clear step by step procedure that could be followed, even if you were completely new to the industry. The SOP also helped our client with what he needed to do from his side of the process.

Bauhinia Solutions Flower

There are many ways we can assist you with your business administration or marketing needs. Feel free to schedule a call with Nicole and explore how we can support you.

Photo Credit: Nicole Graham, Bauhinia Solutions

Kung Hei Fat Choi

Kung Hei Fat Choi, Happy New Year

Social: Media vs. Networking. What is What?

Social Media and Networking are online. Both involve friending / connecting, liking, sharing, posting, profiles… the list of similarities can go on and on. But where they differ and where the grey area ends and distinct lines are drawn varies.

This question reminds me of one that I was asked in a class at uni, studying critical thinking. It goes like this:

Can you describe a duck?
Can you describe a cat?
Now, can you tell someone who has never seen either, how they can tell the difference when they are placed side by side?

And then…
Can you describe a cat?
Can you describe a dog?
Now, can you tell someone who has never seen either, how they can tell the difference when they are placed side by side?

Social Media and Social Networking can easily be popped into this thinking exercise. It is quite easy to tell you what social media is and how it differs from traditional media, just as it is easy to tell you what social networking is and how it differs from traditional networking, but contrast the two and then tell the difference – not so easy now, is it?

Both are online. Both involve friending/connecting, liking, sharing, posting, profiles… the list of similarities can go on and on. But where they differ and where the grey area ends and distinct lines are drawn varies. I have read a great number of articles and this is what I conclude: It is about intent. Your goal. What are you trying to get from the platform and in what capacity are you using it? I truly believe that a single platform can be Social Media for one person or business and Social Networking for another.

The intent of Social Media is One-to-Many, while
the intent of Social Networking is One-to-One.

What does this mean?

Sure, some platforms are purely Social Media; YouTube and Vimeo for example, where the video qualifies it as media and the functionalities to comment, share, and like, qualify it as social. But it stands alone, no matter who publishes the content, the video is there. Pure. Social. Media.

A chat room, on the other hand, would be strictly social networking (admittedly and generally speaking not quality or safe networking, but pure networking nonetheless) where people speak to one another and engage in conversation.

But hybrid products such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and the like allow you to make them what you will – they bend and mold themselves to your intent.

Example A: Ashton Kutcher, the most famous Twitterer of all time. His Twitter account is Social Media – a way to promote and bolster fame by making him socially accessible. Giving him a public voice. Twitter is his microphone. He is speaking at you, not actually to you. Like a presenter or a politician. He is not engaging with all 16.6 million followers. He does not want to. He couldn’t. Is he connecting with Hollywood directors, relying on his twitter connection to score an audition? Using twitter to collaborate with other artists on new projects? Nope.

Example B: Adam Rifkin, LinkedIn Super Networker, self-described as Undercaffeinated and Overconnected. Don’t know him? Type “Adam” in the search box and he is #3. He has more than 3,000 connections, can connect with more than 15 million people through his personal network, and has 23,973 followers. Adam uses his LinkedIn account to connect with people, present himself as an expert in his field, and communicate with people directly. He has written a great article about how to be a Power Networker, but what I find most poignant is, “A good rule of thumb is to connect with at least 1 and up to 3 people every day. More than 3 means you’re not connecting deeply enough.”

Do you see the difference? It doesn’t mean that you have to make a solid decision and only use networks in a single way. The platforms are hybrids and your strategy can be too. What is important is that you can understand and define the nuances of your social activities so that you can reconcile them against the performance indicators of your strategy/campaign – and get the most out of your efforts!

Example C: A restaurant creates a Facebook page. They utilize the page to promote a seasonal menu, daily specials and events, contests and updates, (Media) etc. But, the manager of the restaurant also takes a moment each day to communicate directly with 2 patrons, from wishing them a happy birthday, responding to a complaint in the public forum, or open conversations about ideas for new menu items (Networking). A hybrid plan.

Get it? Good.

Hong Kong Singapore Virtual Assistant

If you want a hand creating the right strategy for you or your business, call us today and set up a Strategy Session or Personal Workshop.

Holidays and Business, Do they Mix?

What do you do when you take leave from your business?

Having just celebrated Chirstmas and Chinese New Year is around the corner, I know quite a few people who have taken advantage of the extra long weekend to take some additional time to get away. But holidays and business, do the mix? What do you do with your business while you’re off deck, particularly if you are the business?

There are a number of options open to you, including ceasing trade while you’re away. You can basically hang up your ‘Closed… back in 5 days’ sign and desperately hope that the trade that passes you by will wait for your reply when you are open. If you’re taking internet orders, be sure to let your customers know that delivery is going to be delayed until your return, and that customer enquiries will be dealt with at a later date.

Everyone needs a break, but just shutting up shop for a period, unless it’s absolutely necessary, just doesn’t look good, and certainly isn’t good for your business.

If you have a trusted friend or relative to care for your business, this is a better option. To keep your business running at seventy or eighty percent in your absence is surely a better alternative than putting business on hold. Be clear and concise with your instructions, and be sure there are clear boundaries about which decisions are theirs to make.

Another alternative is to hire a professional to care for your business. When you are working with someone on a regular basis, you already have a formal contract, they know your business, and you know that things will be taken care of exactly to your specifications. It is essential in this case to have a current, fully updated Standard Operating Procedure manual from which the contracted person can utilise. Having a professional in place will give you the peace of mind to fully relax and enjoy your break, knowing your business is being well cared for in your absence.

We often manage our client’s businesses when they go away and generally it’s not for a weekend or a week, it can be for up to six-weeks. Contact Nicole for further information.

Virtual Assistant Singapore

Photo Credit: Nicole Graham, Bauhinia Solutions

Chinese New Year eCard Design for Orca Capital

Bauhinia Solutions Portfolio

Project: Chinese New Year eCard Design for Orca Capital

Each year Ariel from Orca Capital asks us to create an eCard that she can send to her clients. She sends one out at Christmas and one at Chinese New Year. 2014 is the Year of the Wooden Horse and we created an eCard that had an horse jumping through a capital O (for Orca Capital).

Chinese New Year eCard

Bauhinia Solutions Flower

If you require assistance with your business administration or marketing, schedule a call with Nicole to discuss your needs.

Photo Credit: Damian Zaleski, Life of Pix

Part 2 – Does Banner Advertising Work?

Does Banner Advertising Work?

Banner advertising can be an effective method to promote both your business and brand awareness if all the necessary factors are met.  I can advise however, adding an unprofessional looking banner to an unrelated website in order to advertise your services will meet none of these requirements, and be a total waste of your efforts.

In order to meet the continuity of your branding requirements, make sure the banner or banners encompass the logo, colour and overall feel of your website.  If you do not have the necessary graphic skills to create a professional looking banner then it is certainly worth paying the money to have someone create them for you.  Obvious home-made banners will not inspire confidence in those interested in your product or service and will lessen your CTR (click through rate) effectiveness.  Opt for packages which offer a variety of designs in a range of shapes and sizes so you are prepared when sourcing your ad placement.

The second most important factor for an effective banner advertising program is advertising relevance.  If you are promoting a website aimed at women then it is pointless advertising on a website which attracts men and vice versa.  Know your target audience and find websites which attract that audience.  Alternatively advertise on websites in which your target audience may visit in order to find the service or product you are promoting.

Weighing in the cost of the advertising will help you make decisions about the effectiveness of the advertising you do, although this information is only generally discovered after the event.  However, it will help you plan any future advertising promotions from that point forward.  Smaller websites may charge less and be more suitable for start up businesses not particularly concerned with the number of visitors who may view the site.  Businesses looking to expand their customer base may have to dig deeper into their pocket to place banners on more popular sites in order to reach a wider target audience.

Research, patience and a little trial and error will pave the way to a better understanding of banner advertising and ultimately create a program which works for you.

Virtual Assistant, Elizabeth Loennborn

Blog Management and Writing

Support by Bauhinia Solutions

We have a handful of clients who are more than a solo business owner, who have a team of five or more. This is the case for a tech company where we are part-time support to their Marketing Manager.

Our Support:

We manage their blog. The management includes maintaining the blog schedule, requesting posts to be written by the team, proofreading and editing the posts, sourcing images, making posts SEO compliant and monitoring comments. Their Client Manager is also responsible for writing some posts in which she is credited for the work. Given the industry our client is in, the post are focussed on current tech issues and developments.

When a client has a planned blog schedule, it makes it much easier for us to manage (and write content) for their blog.

Bauhinia Solutions Flower

There are many ways we can assist you with your business administration or marketing needs. Feel free to schedule a call with Nicole and explore how we can support you.

Photo Credit: Nicole Graham, Bauhinia Solutions

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