Thursday, December 17, 2009

A great blog for information for virtual assistants run by Trish Donmall of Conors Admin Services. Website:

Monday, December 7, 2009

How easy is it being a Virtual Assistant!

Being a Virtual Assistant (VA) is not all about the client sending you typing, you do the work and send it back, there is much more involved.

As a VA we do many things, there is month end administration with invoices every month so no matter how busy you are, you stop and do your invoices, it is important to be paid for the work we do. You set aside a day and get your invoices out. Bookkeeping and updating your schedules. This is just one part of our administration another part is, we need to push clients and contractors for payments and invoices, we have to battle with clients who do not want to pay, who query what we do.

One of our aims is to keep our clients happy all the time, we need to keep that client as they provide us with ongoing work so we nurture that client; our clients are our bread and butter. We need to liaise with our clients often.

Managing many clients work is not an easy task. Keep their work in separate folders also in my documents have client folders and in email. With regular clients it is best to invoice monthly. All my clients are regular so I prepare all their invoices at the end of the month and get them all out at the same time so that I can monitor payments coming in. This is where my work log comes in handy as I document all work incoming, and I check back against this when doing my invoicing for each client.

Administration as we call it is a major part of being a VA. We need to market continually, our company needs to be out in the public eye and be seen. Our websites/blogs need to be updated. We continually look for new avenue’s to market our work to. Networking is just as important, there is always the need to tell everyone and anyone what we do, who we are, get the word out there. Any person you talk to could be a potential clients or referral, that’s why it is important to talk about your business no matter where you are, when you can and who you are with. We continually need to look for avenue’s to advertise our companies.

Often we need to do debt collecting with clients who do not pay, this is not a nice part of the job but we must do it, we need to be paid for what we do.

Managing of contractors, when a VA is overloaded we then get the opportunity to help out newbie Vas by contracting to them or helping out established VAs with a bit of extra work. Contracting work out is not as easy as you think. We are on our contractors backs to get them to keep in touch, they need to meet our deadlines, what if the contractor decides she is not doing the work or cant for some reason then we need to find a replacement in the middle of the work that is time taking. Paying of contractors on completion of work.

Another favourite is quoting for work, often ad-hoc jobs come in and we need to arrange a quote, quoting is not quick we need to ask questions to be able to place a price on the work, very time consuming especially with larger jobs.

Filing must be done as with any job, the office administration as seen above is often the hardest part of our job to do, but that comes with running any company/business. There are still many other facets about being a virtual assistant, the best way to learn about doing this type of job is to talk to established VAs as they know what they are doing and they can give you valuable information.

So you see it is not all about sitting and typing, it is about running a full time business/company, and these are only a handful of the tasks we do.

Written by Alison Fourie VAcertified
AMF Typing Service cc

Sunday, November 22, 2009

African Language Trancriptionists/Translators required

Tavasa requires transcriptionists and translators in the following african languages: Zulu, Xhosa, Sotho and Tswana. If you have these skills please email or

Friday, November 13, 2009

VA Certification Alison Fourie

Press Release:
The first Virtual Assistant in South Africa to receive this recognition.

Headline: Local Virtual Assistant Receives International Recognition from Industry Leaders Worldwide

Summary: Alison Fourie qualifies for worldwide Virtual Assistant certification at
Author: Alison Fourie
Keywords: worldwide virtual assistant certification program, VA leaders, virtual assistant, virtual assistance, specialty VA, niche Virtual Assistants, WAHM, work at home moms, business startup, virtual business, online business, work from home
-------------------------------------- ---------------------------------------------------------------------
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Alison Fourie
13 November 2009 Tel: +27011768 5028
Fax: +27 086 514 8475

Local Virtual Assistant Receives International Recognition from Industry Leaders Worldwide
South Africa – Alison Fourie, owner of AMF Typing Services cc announced today that she has qualified for the new worldwide Virtual Assistant Certification from is the new standard for Virtual Assistant Certification which clients worldwide can use to benchmark the services they are looking for in a Virtual Assistant (VA). The first internationally recognized VA certification, offers a carefully calibrated and unbiased assessment of a VA's skills, education, professional experience and industry contributions to gain business owners' confidence in the skills of certified VAs.
To qualify for the certification, Alison was evaluated by 13 industry leaders and specialists from the four corners of the world on a broad spectrum of personal and professional traits pertaining to her expertise and professional ethic.
Alison is one of thousands of Virtual Assistants (VAs), business owners who work from their own offices providing professional support , services and skills to their clients via phone, fax and Internet-based technology. Partnering with a VA reduces stress, protects cash flow, eliminates administrative hassles and enables business people to find the success they originally set out to achieve.
As more and more businesses look toward affordable, online solutions to sustain and grow their bottom line in a tough economy, Virtual Assistants are enjoying increased demand for their services. For business owners and managers who may have considered outsourcing support tasks to a VA in the past but could not justify the understandable risk of hiring an unknown, VA certification provides an assurance that the VA in question has the skills and experience needed.
Alison specializes in typing and assisting new VA entering the industry and is a home-based administrative professional providing various online services to her clients. She started her Virtual Assistance career in 2001 to be able to assist clients with office administration and typing and to assist newbie Virtual Assistants entering the industry and to spread the word about the industry around South Africa.

My certification is important to me as I feel I have the experience, skill to be able to assist clients worldwide. I feel I can make a difference to new Vas coming into the industry by showing them how to get to the position that I am in now, I believe in sharing my experience with others to assist them so they want make the mistakes I made coming into the industry.

For more information about AMF Typing Service cc visit
The seal of approval tells prospective clients that a global panel of experts has thoroughly reviewed a Virtual Assistant's skills, experience and professional ethic. To learn more about becoming a certified Virtual Assistant or to discover the benefits of hiring a certified Virtual Assistant, visit
About AMF Typing Services cc.
Launched in 2001, AMF Typing Services cc specializes in typing and office administration. Visit the website at

About VAcertified is the go-to resource for Virtual Assistants who want credible, unbiased and international recognition for their skills, education, professional experience and industry contributions. Devoted to creating and growing a certification program that embraces diversity, strives to enhance and evolve professional relationships between VA and client. Follow ( @ ) VAcertified on Twitter for up to date information about this worldwide certification for Virtual Assistants.
For more information contact:
Tawnya Sutherland
Toll Free: 866-943-6665
info ( @ ) vacertified dot com
Follow ( @ ) VAcertified on Twitter

Thursday, November 12, 2009

VA Certification

I am pleased to announce that I have received VA certification with effect 12 November 2009.
For more information please visit

Countless Virtual Assistants Join Your Industry Every Day.
How Will You Prove YOU Are the Right Choice?
As the first globally coordinated VA Certification Program of its kind, has brought together VA leaders from the 4 corners of the world to create a one of a kind program for virtual assistants. If you’re a proactive VA seeking the ultimate competitive edge, look no further.
In these tough economic times prospective clients aren’t just looking to save money, they’re looking to partner with someone they can trust. They not only need skill and talent, they need proof that you are the kind of VA you say you are.
Can you afford to leave money on the table every time a prospective client lets doubt creep in? How can you avoid this when chances are you’ll never get the chance to look them in the eye?
You know you have what it takes to do the job.
But how do you get prospects to TRUST you?
Fact is, nothing sells better than positive word of mouth. Likewise, nothing shows you are what you say you are like a glowing endorsement from the industry in which you’re trying to earn a profit.
Peer reviewed professionals get more clients and command more money.
And nowhere is the peer review process needed more than online where anyone can put up a website, anyone can post their skills “for hire,” and anyone can call themselves a VA.
As business becomes increasingly global—even for the small business professional—securing credible outsourced help is intimidating. Many business owners are afraid to make the leap, business owners with deep pockets.
Imagine having the thumbs up from an INTERNATIONALLY handpicked board of industry leaders.
Imagine what that might say about you to the prospect that is ready to put money on the table for the “right VA?”
Be the “right VA” every time with a VAcertified Seal Just for demonstrating the talent and know-how you already have TODAY. Successful entrepreneurs have proven again and again that it’s not what you know but how you bring that knowledge and experience together in one, synergistic benefit package for clients.
When you display the VAcertified Seal on your website and in your other marketing materials, it says to prospective clients that you are the VA you say you are. Virtual Assistants who display the VAcertified seal have demonstrated to an elite peer group that they possess a unique combination of:
Professional work experience
Education and training
Demonstrated contributions to the VA industry
Think you have what it takes to become VAcertified?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


What do you do in this situation:

Client 1 sends you in a Business Plan to type, required today.
Client 2 sends you in 3 hours of transcription to type, required today.
Client 3 you arrange appointments for this client, so calls come in as and when.
Client 4 has a business presentation for you to type required tomorrow.

You first need to look at each task, put them into deadline date order, then put them into an order of the quickest one you can do first. Concentrate on each piece of work as you do them, do not stop and start another while you are still busy on a task, only do this if a client calls for that work and insists they have that work soon.

Then start working your way through the pile. Do one task at a time, you can stop quite easily in between to do your appointments as they come in, then quickly pick up where you left off.

Always work by prioritising and using time management skills when performing all your work. I love to multi-task. The more busy I am the more I can cope. I thrive on being busy and organised.

Feel free to comment back to me about multitasking and prioritising, I would love to hear your comments.

Dealing with clients

A lot of newbie Vas and Transcriptions have a Secretarial background, so should be used to dealing with clients...

The quicker you reply to an email, sms, fax or query from potential clients, you more liable you are to secure that client.
Clients must be treat as equals, you are both on the same level, and you are providing them with a service they require.
I learnt very early on in my career to provide a quality customer services and I have always done this with my clients. I treat each client as if they are my only client and they know I have a lot of clients, but I make them feel special and make them feel as if their work is very important to me and I would say that clients appreciate this.
Never try to sell a service to a client that you cannot perform, the client will immediately pick up on this and very soon you will be caught out. Only offer the services that you have experience in.
Be confident in your approach with potential clients, the more confidence you show in knowing what you are doing, this is again a way to bag the client.
Show an interest in getting to know your client, ask for company profile, company website so that you can see what that client does, that is a great help when sending out emails, doing PowerPoint presentations and doing press releases for clients and it shows you are interested in knowing more about them.
You as a VA or Transcriptionist should be the one who gives your client a rate for the job, not the client. You should be able to negotiate on deadlines, as you know how long jobs take to do. The client does not always know and often it is the case in transcription. The client has no idea how long it takes to transcribe an hour’s work, but you do. If the deadline is not reachable negotiate with the client and tell them it is unmanageable, be honest up front, never be afraid to approach a client, you are on equal terms.
Do not address clients as Sir, Madam, and Mr Brown etc; address them by their first name, as they do you. You are working with them, not for them, the way you address the client makes a difference in how they will treat you and the level in which they converse with you on.
VA and Transcriptionists are Business Owner, so make sure you portray this to prospective clients.
If you need help or assistance in dealing with clients, please approach me. Ihave lots of experience in dealing with all types of clients.

© Copyright 2009 Alison Fourie, All rights reserved.

New VAs against Older more established VAs

In South Africa at the moment there is more newbie VAs coming through but still the clients are turning towards the older more established VAs. Yes we may have the VA experience but some of the newbie’s also have lots of office exposure as much as the oldies, but not the VA experience and to get this they need to work for clients to gain the experience. So potential clients if you read this be prepared to try our newbie VAs some of them do have the experience you need, especially the older ladies that have recently in the past few years started up virtual assistant businesses.
By oldies I mean VAs that have been in the VA business over 5 years. Newbies, new VAs that have been in the business a few years and are struggling to get started, a lot of these do not have the exposure of working for clients like the older VAs have.
Working in an office is no longer what it was. There is such a saying as ‘old school’ where secretaries used to work for anyone and do many tasks, we were taught different to today’s office assistant. I feel to be a VA you need to have a good 10 years office experience behind you. You need to have had exposure to running an office, delegating, multitasking, being pro-active, assertive, being able to communicate well, without these skills many VAs will struggle.
We do need to advertise our skills and experience well to get the attention of the clients. Make our websites look and feel different from our competitors/peers. We need to stand out to pull that client towards ourselves
To me what counts in a virtual assistant is her skills and experience. If a VA can’t be proactive and think for herself she will struggle big time as there is no one there to assist her, she is working on her own. If a VA is not used to being multi-skilled, she better get used to it quickly as you will use all your skills running a VA business.

Friday, October 23, 2009

SARDA South Africa Riding for Disabled Association

SARDA - South Africa Riding for the Disabled Association

SA Riding for the Disabled Association was established in Cape Town in 1973.

Address: Highveld Branch, Peter Road, Ruimsig, Roodepoort.
Tel: 011 958 5044


Please order as many as you like

Christmas Cards, assorted ponies at R30 per pack of 5
Gift Tags, assorted ponies at R15 per pack of 5
SARDA Calendar, R50 for one, R80 for two, R200 for five.

Please stipulate how you wish to receive your order, either collect from SARDA stables, address above, or via your trusted SARDA friend.
We thank you for your support .

PS Regret cash only with order.

Friday, October 16, 2009



Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Being a Virtual Assistant what you can expect

Its very scary starting any new business. But being a Virtual Assistant is about running a business, you need many skills:
Liase with clients, often daily
Market your services
Network to meet new potential clients
Be resourceful
Be pro active
Being assertive
Drive and the ambition to do this
You have to sell your services and the concept of VAs to clients who have no idea you exist as a Virtual Assistant or know what a Virtual Assistant is
Be positive even when you are very down and negative, being able to pick yourself up
Debt Collector
Web Designer for your website/blog
You need to be able to work on your own, be able to motivate yourself to work to schedule and be committed that you can be working a 7 day week
These are just a few of the skills you will need to become a Virtual Assistant, its well worth your while to do the research before you go down this path to make sure this is the careeer for you.

Business Opportunity

Just to let you know if you have seen my business listed as a business opportunity, I am not selling this concept, and my business should not be listed like this.
I run a genuine business as a Virtual Assistant and I am not selling this as a business concept. The aims of a Virtual Assistant is to work for yourself from your own virtual office working for genuine clients who need your assistance.
This industry is new in our country but has been around in Australia and USA for sometime. This is a growing industry worldwide.
We provide services like typing, transcription, office administration, secretarial, event organisation, telephone management to companies, clients, businesses worldwide.
The aims of a virtual assistant is to advertise, marketing and network her business to get known in the corporate world as a means to drawing in potential clients. The aims also are to be able to run a small business and assist clients worldwide.

Stand out from the crowd

It is difficult being a new Virtual Assistant or Transcriptionist or even if you have been in the industry a while and are still not established, there is plenty of competition out there at the moment, you need to make sure you stand out from the crowd.
Make sure your website content is original, keep it updated.
Create a fancy advert for yourself that stands out, making sure it is original content.
You need to sell your services hard at the moment, you need to be different, you need to stand out to draw potential clients to you.
The clients you need are not the clients who are looking for someone to do the work cheap, you are looking for the clients that need a VA or Transcriptionist to help them over and over. Original content is something that will draw in a client.
Look at your competition's websites and see what you can come up with that is different to what they have. I can still come up with new content and new looks for my blog and website after being in the business since 2001.
Make sure your adverts, web and blog look professional at all times, silly graphics will not draw a client to you, dont make your site look to flouncy, bouncy or feminine looking, your look must be professional as that is your business that you are advertising to draw in clients.
Animals, birds, butterflies dont really work or look professional. You are not selling these types of services, so why use these types of graphics etc.
Your adverts, blogs and website are all about drawing your client to you so make sure they have that professional finish and look.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Basic price List

One of the things you need before you open your business to the public is a basic price list, never start your business without one, you will look darn silly to that first client with no idea what to price for their services.
Work out what you would like to earn as an hourly rate. Use this with VA services like office administration tasks. You can group many tasks under an hourly rate. You can offer a client so many hours per week or per day and work within those parameters with a client. You can use a retainer package which gives the client so many paid for hours and a free hour or so thrown in.
But not all tasks can be done via an hourly rate. Typing and Transcription are two of those services.
Typing, through my experience as my job is mostly typing, and ive typed for many many clients, a client prefers a per page price. At the moment up here in Gauteng pricing is around R20 - R30 for basic copy typing per page, with more things involve with the typing like graphics, flow diagrams, graphs, tables, etc then the price will go up as you are actually creating these additional things, so more work and time involved.
Powerpoint Business Presentations, Spreadsheets, Graphs, Flow Diagrams I start off with a basic of R30 per page, but if the tasks are more involved I then take this into account and also how long the job will take me and price accordingly.
Know how long it takes you to do a task so that you can give a client an idea of how long a job will take, but take into account, interrruptions, phone calls, etc. I can safely tell a client I can type 10 to 30 pages a day with interruptions as I know I can achieve this. Clients always want to know how long a job will take you, there is always deadlines to be met, make them reasonable and achieveable to yourself. If you know you cannot complete a task in a given period, tell the client this, they might not be aware of the length of time it takes.
With Transcription you need to look at what is involved with that file, quality of the file, how many speakers, type of transcription (court hearing, focus meeting etc), a one on one meeting is far easier to transcribe than a focus meeting and your pricing should reflect this. Transcription is a good task to have a basic price listing on, as it gives you a starting point to base transcription on depending on what its like. Know how long it will take you to transcribe, so that you can give your client some idea and if you need to negotiate on your time as you know how long it takes more than a client will, tell them if that time is unreasonable, negotiate if necessary, clients are not always unreasonable. It is up to us to education them in this task.
If you need assistance with pricing please contact me,
email: ,
msn messenger: or
skype: amftyping.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Newbie VAs and Clients

As a newbie VA you have to go with the flow and as clients contact you or you contact them you are obliged to do the work they offer, especially so when starting out. As a newbie you can’t afford to turn work down.

1. You need to get experience of the type of work you will do
2. You need to get a feel of how to deal with clients
3. You need to have procedures in place to go through the process of getting work, dealing with the client, and invoicing that client and you need to see if these procedures work, as a newbie this is important.

You have to find a way to make that client come back to you time and again. The aim is for each client not to be a once off client but to become a regular. A way of getting your clients to become regulars is to convince them that you are the VA that can best assist them, let them know you can be an asset to their company, offer them the services/skills they need in a professional manner and convince them you can do the job and you can be trusted. Provide each client with a quality client service so that they will want to stay with you. Treat each client as if they are your only client whether they are or are not; make them feel as if they are. A client needs to feel special and they need to feel that you put their needs first, that is important. If you provide a client with a good service that client will go away and talk to others about that service and that could lead to more clients for you. Word of mouth is a great way for a client who is appreciative of your services to help you spread the word about your business.

Clients look for the following in VAs:
· Your experience and skills, (know your job)
· Your confidence in your job
· Being proactive and assertive (a client will not want a VA that says yes/no)
· Providing a quality service
· Your availability (when are you available to the client and when are you not)

As you start getting a few regular clients then maybe you could turn your marketing towards target marketing. Take a service you enjoy doing and market that particular service towards clients who you know provide this service. Also after working for a few clients you learn which types of clients you would like to work for, use target marketing to find those clients in the services that you want to work with.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Recession, downsizing and virtual assistants

written by Alison Fourie

How are you feeling as a virtual assistant during this recession that is hitting us wordwide?
Is it hitting your business?
What affects has it had on your business?

This is my take on the recession and purely my opinion.

Companies are downsizing especially so with office administration staff, this is not just happening within South Africa but worldwide. This to me opens the way for virtual assistants and transcriptionists to find work. Companies will need their office administration done no matter what. Tasks like company invoicing, accounts, typing, company correspondence, arranging meetings etc. We as virtual assistants can handle these tasks and help keep the company administration under control.

To get these types of jobs it would be wise for virtual assistants to send out company brochures and introduction letters to prospective clients, start with the types of small businesses that could downsize easily then move on to larger corporates, what harm does it do to let companies know you are out there willing to assist in this time of recession.

Clients are contacting me around three to five times a week for quotations so that proves there are potential clients out there looking for support from virtual assistants. They are hearing about us through the continual advertising/marketing we do. But the problem is they are only hearing from a small percentage of us, a small percentage of us appear in advertising everywhere, where everyone else advertises, does there marketing, I don’t know as you are not being seen. To me if I was you I would see that as a problem. A virtual assistant’s aim should be to get her details out there so that corporates, businessmen, entrepreneurs can see her, but this does not seem to be the case. So I would say the veterans of the industry like myself are the ones who are benefiting the most during the recession. The one thing that I can do as I do have a full business of clients is contract work out to newbie’s and assist them this way, but that should not be the way newbie’s find work, they themselves should not rely on veteran VAs to give them work but should go out and look for potential clients. You will not receive full pay for a job that you would if you had the client yourself and as a contractor you will not make much money working for other VAs, so to me that is to your disadvantage. Go and find clients and make the money you could earn. Take advantage of the recession with companies downsizing that are now outsourcing and present them with your details. Get out there and be seen.

Friday, August 7, 2009

New Tavasa Website New

It finally here. The new Tavasa Website just ready in time for our 1st birthday on 8th August 2009, I invite you to go and have a look and let us know what you think.

The Importance of Procedures

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Hi everyone, today I want to talk about the importance of procedures to your business. Procedures are vitally important in any business, but perhaps in a virtual business they are of tantamount importance. A procedure in essence is a plan, and generally speaking, to use the old hackneyed phrase, failure to plan is to plan to fail.I believe any business must start with a business plan. Even if you don't intend to use it to obtain a loan, it would be something that allows you to clearly state your intentions about what it is that you are trying to do. It's a mind clearer. And the natural next step (or even included in your business plan) would be to plan your procedures. This means you sit down and think of eventualities and plan how you're going to deal with them. What are your steps to follow when a query comes in? What are your steps when an order comes in? How are yougoing to invoice? These are things that, I believe, every newbie VA and transcriptionist should document. Here comes the challenge, though. Your first client comes in, followed by your second, and your third. And suddenly, you're very busy. At his point it is easy to let go of procedures. And this is a danger to your established business. Much as you are tempted to go straight to bed after a 4 hour transcription, do not do so without at least blocking out some time the following day to do your admin. It's important, because doing it regularly does save you time in the long run, and consider that admin left for two or three days, or longer, can begin to make you feel overwhelmed. Procedures can also be revised, as you get busier or add new services or products to your business. But the bottom line is - stick to your procedures.

Written by Gaynor Paynter, Typewrite Transcription and Typing Services CC, Cell: +27834424689, Web:

Monday, July 27, 2009

French Transcriptionists needed Urgently

Hi everyone we are urgently looking for French transcriptionists. Please get in touch urgently if you transcribe in French or if somebody you know does, please refer them, contact / 0834424689

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Feature of the month August - Tanya Joubert - VOA

Featuring for the month of August:
Virtual Office Assistance - Typing and Transcription focuses its services on typing and transcription services and extends their services in a variety of secretarial services which include email management, diary management, appointment setting, electronic payments, debtor correspondence, etc. With ample experience in working with people who are visual impaired and blind, VOA can assist professionally to prepare documents for the visually impaired, prepare it for brailling or assist people who are visually impaired to have a more meaningful experience in the office, via electronic assistance. Please visit our website: or contact Tanya Joubert, owner of VOA - Typing and Transcription, can be contacted on Tel: (083) 510 1181, email:, or fax: (086) 655 4381.

Monday, July 20, 2009

What are we?

VA-Business Owner/Independent Contractor/Freelancer!
What are you?
I run a company with a name and many umbrellas under that company, I do accounting, marketing, networking, recruitment, deal with contractors, client liaison, debt collection, so therefore as I do all these tasks I am doing the same as any small business, as these tasks must be incorporated into that business therefore I operate as a small business owner which to me is what Virtual Assistants are. I assist my clients with various tasks and I work from a virtual office. So to me this defines what a virtual assistant is and what we do.
I am not a freelancer, if I was all these tasks above would not be incorporated into what I do.
I am not a independent contractor, contracting out my services to other virtual assistants.

Being a virtual assistant is about running a company/business and being the owner of that company/business and also doing the work to assist the clients but being on the same business level.


Work at Home Moms

To me there is a good reason why we are called Virtual Assistants, the last thing we need to tell prospective clients is that we work from home, so having this title describes what we do and who we are, we are assistants to clients and work virtually.
Never tell clients you are a work at home mum, rather let them know you work from a virtual location in an office, this sounds better and makes what you are doing to be more real to the client. Work from home mums are not taken serious and surely if you are running a business you must be taken serious by other clients, business people, corporates etc.
Never tell the clients you cannot meet a deadline because your child is at home sick, the client is not interested, that is your business, all they want to know is can you do the work, can you meet the deadline, what happens in between this is not the clients business. Tell them a problem has arose that you need to take care of, they don’t need to know what it is.
Home, children, dogs, husband is your responsibility and not the clients so don’t tell them about these things.
Your office and company documentation must be professional, keep it fresh looking and your content and graphics business/company orientated.
Your aim is to project how professional you are in your business environment all the time and not to portray yourself as a work at home mum who plays at typing to earn extra money.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

An Entreprenuer

An entrepreneur is a person who has initiative and a sense of inventing.
An entrepreneur is a person who identified a need or a niche in the market and then establishes an organisation to provide the necessary products or services to satisfy such need. This is to the benefit of both the client, who has their needs satisfied and the entrepreneur who makes a profit if the venture is successful.

The entrepreneur is therefore essentially a person who sees an opportunity in the market and thinks of a way to make money out of it.

An entrepreneur’s character:
· Strong leadership qualities
· Good communication skills
· Be creative and innovative
· Be hungry to succeed
· Strong commitment, high energy levels.
· Must be a good manager and apply strong qualities of competitiveness, decisiveness and problem solving.

· Identify opportunities to make money
· Identify the various alternatives available
· Establish plan of action
· Identify possible barriers
· Determine resources and capital that is needed
· Implement an action plan
· Actively look for new ideas on a continues basis
· Put ideas into writing, writing things done makes an idea real and workable
· Research, all the time
· Make time for creative thinking.

An entrepreneur is a brave person who seizes an opportunity and works with it, towards a goal of making money and being successful.

This to me is what a Virtual Assistant can be and work towards being ‘an Entrepreneur’ in his/her industry.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Clients and payments

A good idea for newbie VAs and Transcriptionist while starting out is to charge clients 100% to 75% up front deposit for each job they do, especially so for adhoc jobs. When you take on regular clients for the first few months charge this deposit and when you get to know the client then move to a monthly rate. You need to ensure first you will be paid by your clients before comitting to monthy payments and providing monthly services for clients.

Tavasa 1 year old 8th August 2009

Transcriptionists and Virtual Assistants of South Africa (Est 2008)

Birthday Celebrations - 1 Year Old - 8th August 2009

It is our first birthday, time to reflect, what about our success, and what next for Tavasa.

Tavasa was founded in October 2008 by Gaynor Paynter from Typewrite Transcription and Typing Services and Alison Fourie from AMF Typing Services cc. We have run Tavasa for a year without both of us ever meeting, we liaise by using online messenger services and email, it shows we truly are virtual and are able to run a successful group this way.

We were the first group of our kind in South Africa, a Tavasa 1st. Tavasa was formed as there was a need for a support group within South Africa for Virtual Assistants and Transcriptionists.

Tavasa is heading in many directions, Recruitment, Chat Room, Support Group, Twitter, Online Forum etc; we want to be a force within the industry in South Africa.

· Provide support for people in our industries
· Bring together a group of professionals who can support each other
· Set standards for our industries in South Africa.

Because we like to have immediate access to queries that arise from our members, and because many people in South Africa still find it easier to access email on a regular basis as opposed to accessing an internet browser regularly, our main means of communication is an email discussion forum, and you can join our group at

Our benefits to members include:
· Potential employment – preference is given to our TAVASA members for any leads we may have.
· Information on How to start a Virtual Assistant / Transcription Business
· Templates as requested, including financial, business, etc.
· Business contracts and forms such as agreements
· Business Contracts and forms such as
· Work Templates as requested
· Private help with rates calculations
· Exposure by publication of your articles and names on our blog.

You can also have a look at our blog at
Clients are very welcome to contact us too! We can meet any transcription or virtual assistant requirement.

Tavasa is successful. There certainly was a need for it in South Africa. Now VAs and Transcriptionists have a place to go to look for advice, mentoring, job leads, contractor leads, letting off steam, laugh and interact with each other. It is a place for everyone to let them know they are not sitting in their offices alone/lonely, there is support in the form of Tavasa.

The Virtual Assistant/Transcription Industry’s are growing daily within the country. Our aim is to spread news about the industries within our country and to make Tavasa a household name for people who work from their own offices, within their own environment.

We provide Virtual Assistant and Transcription services to clients, entrepreneurs, and business people.
We have a lot of experts aboard Tavasa in their fields.
One of our skills is we can provide a group of expert VAs or Transcribers for larger jobs that one VA/Transcriptionist cannot provide.

We provide the following services within our group, these are some of the skilled people within Tavasa, but there are many more of us:

· Transcription Services, Contact Gaynor Paynter at, Typewrite Transcription and Typing Services CC for more information on Transcription. Dictaphone typing used to be provided by the Boss recording his documentation into a cassette recorder using a cassette tape and now technology has moved forward. This service is growing The following clients are using Transcriptionists: attorney’s, doctors, firemen, conference venues, audio visual recording companies, insurance, students, corporates with disciplinary hearings and board meetings and there is now a lot more companies beginning to realise that they can also use our services.

· Virtual Assistants (VAs), Virtual Assistants work from virtual offices providing office administration, secretarial services to clients, entrepreneurs, and business people. Many offices are downsizing due to the recession, you will still need your office documentation typed, your meetings, and appointments arranged, your telephone answered, your invoices dispatched to your clients monthly, we can provide these services and more. For more information on Virtual Assistants contact Alison at AMF Typing Services cc, website: and Cell: 082 871 3452, Office: 011 768 5028, email: and

· Damaria Senne is an Independent Writer based in Johannesburg. She used to specialise in the ICT field, writing news articles, features, case studies, web copy, and press releases on ICT-related topics. She has now broadened her scope to include relationships, HIV and AIDS, as well as career development. Client blogs that she works on daily include the OneLove Regional Campaign ( and The Software Engineer, a blog for software developers run by the Joburg Centre for Software Engineering ( Email Learn more about Damaria and her work at

· Virtual Office Assistance - Typing and Transcription focuses its services on typing and transcription services and extends their services in a variety of secretarial services which include email management, diary management, appointment setting, electronic payments, debtor correspondence, etc. With ample experience in working with people who are visual impaired and blind, VOA can assist professionally to prepare documents for the visually impaired, prepare it for brailling or assist people who are visually impaired to have a more meaningful experience in the office, via electronic assistance. Please visit our website: or contact Tanya Joubert, owner of VOA - Typing and Transcription, can be contacted on Tel: (083) 510 1181, email:, or fax: (086) 655 4381.

Tavasa is free to join and we welcome all new members:

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Rates and knowing how long it takes to do a task

These are things to think about when you begin to set your rates:

What rates are being charged in your area/location, what rates are being charged around the country, check out Durban, Cape Town and Joburg.
Check with other VAs what their rates are, some VAs will be open with you about rates some not, dont take that to heart, that is just the way some VAs are and after all we are competition to each other. Look towards the older established VAs for this info, they will be more helpful.
Know what amount you would like to earn at the end of the month and work your rates towards that point, know what your monthly expenses are.
Know what hourly rate you will charge.
Have all your services you are going to offer ready with rates before that first client calls. I work from a basic rate for each services then look at each job individually and price accordingly depending on what is involved against my basic rate.
It is important to know how long a job will take you, know how long it takes you to do transcription and typing, time doing a data entry on a few basic pieces of info. Time how long it takes to type a page, statistics are always helpful when doing quotations. Time how long it takes you to transcribe 10 minutes of transcription.
Know if you can meet your deadlines, you will have interruptions during the day, the phone rings, callers visit. Always add interruption time to your overall time. Always include this little bit of extra time in each job. If you have no interrruptions when doing a particular job all well and good, its always good to finish way ahead of a deadline. Just know your time limits.

New Virtual Assistants

Firstly I would suggest you do a google search on 'virtual assistant' from here you will see that it is a thriving industry worldwide. Being a VA is about owning a business, not just about sitting at home and typing, its about running a full time business. Being a VA you will take part in every aspect of running your business, typing, transcribing, marketing, networking, admin, client liaison etc. Its daunting, scary but if you feel you can do, go for it. I will support you and give you help if you need, I will answer questions you need answers to.
Attitude also plays a huge role in whether you will succeed or drowned. You have to be able to multitask, be able to prioritise, deal with clients on an ongoing basis, be friendly, and have excellent time management skills. You have to have the right personality to do this type of job. You need self discipline, you need to have it in you to get up every morning and physically go and work at your computer as you are doing a job and running a company.The VA concept is taking off in leaps and bounds within South Africa at the moment; there is still lots of work out there for everyone. The word is spreading and more and more clients are moving towards VAs and are learning about our concept. So there is work available but to get that work ‘you have to do the work to get the work’, it is as simple as that, the work will not just fall into your lap.
Today becoming a Virtual Assistant is a safer option for a women; you work from home, therefore cutting out the risks of travelling to work re high jacking, car breakdowns, traffic etc. Being your own Boss means you can schedule your work around yourself. Being a VA can become a hectic full time job working from home. If you are thinking of moving out of the secretarial arena, becoming a Virtual Assistant could be the position for you, if you would like to work from home. It could be the next step to take.

Newbie VAs do's

Newbie VAs need to be professional from their very first day. Having a website or blog is so important for advertising, marketing and letting people know about your company but if your content is wrong it will reflect on you and clients want call.
Another point, answering email a day or so later, well if i was your prospective client I wouldnt work with you. Email, Skype, Messenger, SMS are part of your job and if you dont answer your email for 24 hours that is saying, your really not that interested, read the email send a quick I will get back to you shortly and do so. I am hectic, run a business full time, have a family and a dog, look after my house and I can answer email as they come in, I run deadlines but to me emails are important as the next potential clients could be in the next email, an email take a few minutes to open, scan and reply quickly, then print it out for further investigation when you are ready.
My last point here is don't open your business until you have taken all the steps first, have your documentation in place, have your price list ready, have contracts ready, you dont want to come across as unprofessional to your first client as that will seal the way for the rest of your clients. You want to come across as professional and ready to do business.

Its hard being a VA starting out but if you put all your ducks in a row, do the research, get everything ready then take that important step and open your business, things will run better and you will be better prepared.

Lower Rates/Overseas

At the moment there is a big issue about rates, VAs are charging very low rates. Why! to get the job, they think if the rates are low they stand a better chance of getting the work. But what they are not realising is its not worth doing it. You can spend ages on a job and if its not priced right you are the looser in the long run, any job you do, you are using electricity, telephone connections, printer ink, time, all these factors come into play when pricing work, also what about your experience, your skill, surely that is worth something to the client. Your prices must cover your overheads surely. Why would anyone want to sit for hours on end typing up a book for say R5 to R10 a page, that is ridiculous, you are working at a loss, do the sums.
Here is something, you go to the doctor, you are in there 10 minutes at the most, when you get your doctors bill you are charged at an hourly rate, he certainly does not charge you for the seconds/mintues you were there only, no way he will charge you for the hour, whether you sat for the hour or not with him. You dont quibble about the price after all you visited the doctor and got what you went for. Dont do charging by the second billing, round off your figures, the supermarket certainly round off there pricing, look at the mark up on prices for food and clothing the things we need, Im hoping by giving you fair examples this will make you think about your pricing and not charge such low prices. Be competitive within the industry. Show the client you are worth every penny you charge, sell your skills and experience to the client, show them you know what you are doing, show you can assist the client and be dependable, trustworth and efficient. Let the client know they are getting value for money by using your services. Let the client know you can provide a much better service then the person who charges R5 per page for typing or charges very low rates for transcription.

This is not always so.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Selling yourself as a VA

As a VA, to get clients we need to really sell our skills and services. I come from a secretarial background where the staff were my clients, so I always had work. I am now in a position whereby I run and own my own company and if I dont sell my skills and services I simply want get clients. I am a shy person, I hate talking on the telephone. Marketing is not my thing and yet I can market my services successfully.
When clients ring to ask for pricing/rates I need to convince that client to stay with me and not move onto another VA for pricing/rates, to do this I had a quickie speech ready that I give and by the end of it I usually can tell, I have hooked that client and its a matter of getting details and getting the work. It only takes a few minutes to convince a potential client that you are the person for the job. Selling yourself in marketing must be part of your VA business, people contact is a major playing in being a VA, that is our way of getting clients and work. If a client has trust and confidence that you can do the job they often will stay with you and become regular clients.
A piece of advice I can give is have a quick speech ready for potential clients, practice it till you know it, write it down if necessary. Use it to good affect. I enjoy the challenges of marketing and selling my skills and services and I must be doing something right as once I hook the clients they dont want to leave me.
If I can get my marketing right then so can you.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Being comfortable

As you set up your own office, make sure that all your equipment is close to hand. You will spend hours in your office so your office must feel like your second home. I feel at times that I virtually live in my office as I am in here 7 days a week. Paint the walls colours that are soothing, hang soothing pictures, pictures of nature, the sky, the sea. Play calming background music but keep it low.
Be comfortable in your office space.

Its all about Attitude and Motivation

To be a Virtual Assistant its all about being assertive, attitude, being proactive. You have to go out there and virtually sell your services and your business to potential clients. If you are not a people's person, quiet, dont like to mingle, dont like selling yourself this is not the job for you. The aim is to attract clients and to do this you have to put yourself out there. Marketing and advertising is something that must be done, its a major requirement of the job, your content must be good to draw the client your way. You have to project yourself as a professional business person. Being a VA is not about sitting at home typing for clients, its does not work like that, you want get the clients without doing any work to draw them to you. I am advertised worldwide, its taken time to do this, ive spent countless hours looking for places to advertise on. The one thing I have never done is give up in, in all my time as a VA, ive come close but ive not actually thrown in the towel, ive picked myself up and carried on and I just keep finding new directions to market and advertise. You have to be innovative, you have to keep exploring out there. I am able to motivate myself and that is something you need to learn to do, set goals and stick with them as that works. Set goals as you start up your business for each task you do, tick off these goals as you complete them. Its much easier to complete small goals than just one large goal. Stay focused on your goals.

Friday, May 29, 2009


It’s a cold, grey and rainy Cape Town day but it’s a Friday and that’s what counts. Working from home, Fridays are not the highlight of the week they were back in the good old days before the recession and retrenchment, but there’s still a good feel to the day.
The last thing I can face today is my computer and the weekend’s worth of transcription that awaits me (and for which I thank heaven fasting) so I cast around for excuses to delay work which would be better off done immediately. It’s the last working day of May, so I pay my bills (two, credit card and bond). Paying the bond, or at least a teeny-weeny part of the payment due makes me feel great, because it’s the first payment I have made from my earnings in six months. The tenant takes care of about two-thirds of the payment and there’s a little bit of credit there so, while it hasn’t led to sleepless nights, it’s been bothering me a lot that I haven’t been able to keep up with the payments.
The credit card is what I use for everything: rates payments, electricity, air time, insurance payment, AA membership (when your car looks like mine, it’s a jolly good idea), groceries, thermal underwear - you name it, if it can go the card, it does. The trick to using a credit card is to pay the entire amount due, down to the last cent, each and every month.
Inspiration strikes – my car licence is due for renewal –in fact it expires within 3 days and I haven’t sussed out how I can sort it out on-line. I never use the car for one errand only, so I pack in my library books and plan to buy cat food while I’m going in that direction.
First stop, the charity shop. This is a fairly miserable little one in a poor neighbourhood so the pickings are usually slim. I find a really pretty metal waste paper bin in turquoise for R8. This is a future plant container.
Next stop, the charity shop. This one is a little more up-market and I’ve bought a couple of useful books here. Fiction I borrow from the library. Here I find a little wire egg basket for R5. With a bit of wire from the roll I purchased for about R30 three or four years ago and which I hope will last me for my lifetime, it’ll make a container for a hanging plant, preferably a vegetable or herb of sorts.
Traffic department – longish queue – very boring – find out how to do this on-line in future. One more tedious errand banished forever; this may be misplaced optimism - the system doesn’t seem to work too well in our rainbow nation.
I have to buy potting soil because of the cheap bin. This is a major expenditure in my life because I garden entirely in pots. Actually, the pots are the major expenditure because this particular garden was started only about a year ago. Fortunately, I bought most of these while I was working because these days it’s more about making something from nothing. My local nursery has a loyalty card system which means I get back money (to be truthful, a minuscule amount) on every purchase I make. I also get a free gift each month. This month it was a small packet of fertiliser which I gave to a friend. Last month, it was a pack of bulbs (Spraxis, which are doing quite nicely, thank you). I think the previous month it was a succulent, and so on. Obviously, this is a great marketing ploy because, as any gardener knows, you cannot go to the nursery without coming away with boot-loads of stuff.
Bulbs are on special – R10 a packet. I shall plant scented freesias in the turquoise waste paper bin. I buy three packets instead of one (see above) and, anyway, it works out at about 28c per bulb. Far less than a teabag – I shall go without tea, if necessary.
Next stop, the herb garden. They have a lot of herbs on special, but I already have all these. I get chatting with a very knowledgeable employee on the subject of tomatoes and notice a trolley of herbs which are obviously destined for the compost heap. Clearly the staff can’t hand out freebies – they’re there to sell the stuff but, by agreement, once his back is turned, I remove one of two dying dill plants from a container. This is theft. There’s no two ways about it- it’s theft. I console myself with the thought that I shall bring this sad little dill plant back to health. It’s not Dill’s time to die.
Woolworths’ butter is no more expensive than anyone else’s and I don’t do margarine. It’s also practically next to the pet shop where I buy supplies for Sweet Baby Jane (a spoilt and rather tubby cat). As I enter, there are several trays of promotional products, including crisp bread surrounded by cheese and baby tomatoes. Baby Roma tomatoes – I don’t have those in my budding vegetable garden and I’m still seething at the price of vegetable seeds at the nurseries.

More and more people are turning to growing at least some of their food and the seed companies are cashing in on the trend. This, regrettably, seems to be the South African way.
Two little tomatoes find their way into my bag. This is theft. I justify this to myself, thinking Woolworths was prepared to give me a couple of tomatoes to eat – why should they care if I eat them later in the year, when they will hopefully have grown fruitful and multiplied?
“Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive” – Sir Walter Scott.
I don’t quite know if I’ve untangled it yet, but the dill plant looks happier already and the tomatoes are in a saucer where they will dry out in time to be planted come spring. They, too, look quite cheerful..
In the meantime, the sun has come out and I still don’t have the urge to do that darned typing.

Michele Johanson
Fax: 086 6021 791
Ph: 084 6944 307

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tavasa (Transcriptionists and Virtual Assistants of South Africa)

Authors: Alison Fourie and Gayner Paynter


Announcing TAVASA: The Transcriptionists and Virtual Assistants of South Africa.

Our aim is the promote the Transcriptionists and Virtual Assistants industry within South Africa
· To guide new Transcriptionists and Virtual Assistants to set up their businesses within the industry.
· We provide transcriptions services and office administration services to clients in South Africa and Abroad.
· Tavasa Forum: This forum offers job leads, contractor positions and interesting information, advice, discussions, tips etc . Subscribe to our forum:
· Tavasa Chat Room, whereby we hold daily chat session, questions and answer discussions.
· Messenger and Skype online communication as required.
· We provide to new Transcriptionists and Virtual Assistants, EBooks on both services to help them start and grow their own businesses.
· We are a place whereby people can meet and give each other support, answer questions and queries relating to the industry.
· We welcome overseas members.
· Membership is free.

Our group was founded in October 2008 by Gaynor Paynter from Typewrite Transcription and Typing Services cc, Web: and Alison Fourie from AMF Typing Services cc, Cell: +270828713452, Web: Tavasa was formed as there was a need for a support group within South Africa.

Contact us further to learn more about Tavasa.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Arms and Muscle Strain

Arm Injury – Typist Elbow:

This is a stress related injury which affects your arm from shoulder to your tips of your fingers and is very painful. It is muscle strain. Suggestions have been heat treatment, this I find works and is soothing, use the various gel’s on the market, I am currently using Voltaren Gel and its is affective to me.
Ive also been typing left handed when I am right handed, this is not easy, but I get there slowly and have been able to do the work.
Rest, works the best I find, ive been taking pailkillers which also help a lot, the muscles more ache then pains and is awkward more than anything. Getting dressed is difficult, it helps to have someone assist you. Eating is also difficult, I found I did not have the strength in my arm to even lift a knife, spoon, cooking even became difficult, (a few crockery breaks later). Lifting was a nightmare as I could not lift me arm far.

But ive got over this now and I hope it does not happen to me again too soon.

Burnout, Fatique, overworked

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Burnout is a psychological term for the experience of long-term exhaustion and diminished interest. Many theories of burnout include negative outcomes related to burnout, including job function (performance, output, etc.); health related outcomes (increases in stress hormones, coronary heart disease, circulatory issues), and mental health problems (depression, etc.). Although burnout is work-related, most responsibility for burnout currently rests on the individual worker in the United States, as well as the individual company, as it is in a company's best interest to ensure burnout doesn't occur. Other countries, especially in Europe, have included work stress and burnout in occupational health and safety standards, and hold organizations (at least partly) responsible for preventing and treating burnout.

How do you handle burnout! Purely my opinion. (Alison Fourie)

Monitor the amount of work you take in daily. Only take in the work that you can handle. You should know what your coping mechanisms can deal with daily. I know with straight copy typing I can complete roughly 20 to 30 pages per day that is also taking into account telephone calls and interruptions, so with that in mind as my job comprises of mostly typing I know my capabilities daily. I know I can work for 2 to 3 clients on a weekly basis depending on what they give me to do and how I schedule that work and meet deadlines. Do not do too much to the point that you have no idea who you are working for and why.

If a VA ends up with too much work, then you can look towards contractors to assist you. Rather than turn work away a good thing to do is to contract that work out to newbie Vas, which will give them a chance to see they types of work a VA can get in and give them experience at doing that work and meeting your deadline.

What can assist is take a break and get someone you trust to come and sit in for you for a few days to see if that break will assist you. Make sure that if you do this that your stand-in fills in a confidentiality client clause to guard against anyone taking your clients.

Keep a log of all work that comes in on a daily basis that way you will be organized.
It is when your organisation falls behind that you end up feeling trapped and with too much work to do. Once you reach this stage, you would be better off completely stopping what you are doing and reorganise the work you have until you feel comfortable that you know you can start up again.

When things completely get on top of you, stop, move away from your desk and the work, go for a walk, take a break, have some tea, then go back and start again. A good way to do this is to schedule your day as if you were working in a corporate world, take breaks and lunch breaks.

Burnout happens when you feel you have reached the point whereby you feel you cannot do this anymore. Then you need to rethink what you are doing and why you are doing it. Look at the positive aspects of what you are doing, then look at the negative aspects, see what you can put right with the negative aspects to make them buildable to continue and to make them positive. Organise a break from the work and your job, maybe time away will help you decide on what you want to do. Talk to a friend, don’t keep your feelings bottled up, this will make things worse. Talking always helps. Other people and their perspectives can sometimes help you in a difficult time by looking at things objectively. If you really feel nothing is helping you then this is the time to visit your doctor as other reasons maybe behind what is troubling you.

Burnout is brought on by stress so the ideal thing would be to take the stress out of your life and job but how can we do this, that is not the easy thing. Everyone lives with stress, stress is part of our life but if we can find a way to deal with it, work around it, half the battle could be won with regards to Burnout.

Written by Alison Fourie of AMF Typing Services cc

Friday, May 15, 2009

Tavasa Chat Room

Tavasa Chat Room (this is another Tavasa First in South Africa).

I (Ali) will be in the Tavasa Chat Room daily from Monday onwards 10am to 11am and from 3pm to 4pm, you are welcome to come and ask any industry related questions you need to know, I will try and answer and if not I will come back to you with an answer. All questions and discussions are welcome in there. Find the Chat Room link right at the bottom of the blog, scroll right to the bottom and click on the link.
Its up to you to use the Chat Room, you dont have to wait for me and Gaynor to use it, you can contact a few friends from Tavasa and ask them to join you there for a chat. The Chat Room is set up for you to use as the Tavasa Forum Group.

Friday, May 8, 2009

New: SA Networking Site

SA Networking site for wah people, website:

Belonging to Forums

A great way to learn about being a VA/Transcriptionist and what we do is to join the forums available in South Africa.

TAVASA: (Transcriptionists and Virtual Assistants of South Africa), Subscribe: Blog:

VA for Hire Forum:
Email: Website:

You will feel by belonging to both forums you have now joined the South Africa family of VAs and Transcriptionists within South Africa. All questions are welcome and we would love you to participate and meet everyone. No questions are to stupid to ask as there will always be someone wanting to ask that question. Join us. Send us an introduction email telling everyone what you do, if you are married or single, have children, what services you offer, how you feel about working from home, you will get lots of response saying welcome, our team is very friendly.

Friday, May 1, 2009

South African Medical Transcriptionists wanted

Medical Transcriptionists Wanted by Tavasa
If you are a South African medical transcriptionist wanting to a) contribute to upholding standards and procedures in the industry, and b) have the potential of new medical work from us, then Alison and I invite you to sign up at our forum TAVASA.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Public Holidays and Weekends

Hi as a VA we often ask what are public holidays and weekend. While working in the corporate world I rarely worked overtime or weekends, here its non stop. If im busy during the week and if by chance ive no work for the weekend then the weekend is spent marketing online but the chances of this are rare as most of the time ive work enough for 7 days a week. Being a VA means being very flexible, working around family and the house. Rarely do I get a public holiday off work, when working for overseas companies they dont have public holidays the same as us here in SA so as they are working. I will be working. The life of a VA is very hectic when you work for many clients that keep you busy

Friday, April 17, 2009

Signature on Emails

One of the ways to advertise your company continually is to sign off your emails.
Create a signature in Outlook, Tools, Options, Signatures.
Use this signature when sending out emails, to your colleagues, friends, the bank, relations, etc.
See mine below: This gives my full contact details, potential clients can contact me very quickly by the contact method that suites them. This is also a good way to get your company known, its continual advertising.

AMF Typing Services cc Tavasa: Transcription and Virtual Assistants of SA, Tavasa Blog: Cell: 082 871 3452, Office: 011 768 5028, Email:,

Contracting out to Newbie VAs and Transcriptionists


Lately a lot of Transcriptionists and Virtual Assistants are using Contractors. Often when the VA or Transcriptionist has work that is too large for her to do, or she is busy and needs assistance with tasks, she will ask for assistants from contractors. VAs or Transcriptionists who are newbie’s in this field, one of the best ways to learn about this business is to contract yourself out to other VAs, Transcriptionists, it is a great way to learn, and this gives you a good start in the industry as to how things work and the kinds of work available for you to do. But while you are contracting out to another VA don’t forget to still do marketing and networking for your own company/business. The aim must always be to get your own clients.

For you to contract to a client (VA/Transcriptionist) you need to incorporate the following Guidelines into your business, these are very important:
1. Follow the client’s instructions to the letter.
2. Communicate with your client and let them know how you are doing, keep them updated, it is the clients work you are doing and they need to be informed of your progress, because clients have deadlines to maintain.
3. Make sure you get clear instructions from your client.
4. If for some reason you cannot complete your task on time, contact your client and let them know you are running late and ask can you extend your deadline, or ask for assistance.
5. Make sure your client has all your contact details.
6. If you cannot perform a task and you know you will not have it ready for the deadline, do not take on the work in the first place.
7. I think there is a misconception here; if you are doing work for a VA or Transcriptionists they are your client and must be treat the same as you would any client.
8. It is up to you to keep in contact with the client, clients don’t have time to run around after you for the work. Communication is very important.
9. A contractor will earn in the region from 30% to 45% of the actual fee that your clients, client pays them.
10. A contractor will not have access to the client’s business information, nor will they abuse this information if they do have access to it. A contractor can be sued for abusing client information.
11. A Contract Agreement must be signed between Client and Contractor to cover both parties in the event of things happening.

Written by Alison Fourie, AMF Typing Services cc, © Copyright 2001 AMF Typing Services cc®, Ck2001/083866/23. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


What do you do in this situation, would your first step be to panic:

Client 1 sends you in a Business Plan to type, required today.
Client 2 sends you in 3 hours of transcription to type, required today.
Client 3 you arrange appointments for this client, so calls come in as and when.
Client 4 has a business presentation for you to type required tomorrow.

You first need to look at each task, put them into deadline date order, then put them into an order of the quickest one you can do first.

Then start working your way through the pile. Do one task at a time, you can stop quite easily in between to do your appointments as they come in, then quickly pick up where you left off.

Always work by prioritising and using time management skills when performing all your work. I love to multi-task. The more busy I am the more I can cope. I thrive on being busy and organised.

The importance of a Website/Blog

I feel that one of the most important items a Virtual Assistant can have, is a Website, to advertise your business/company on the Internet. As you start up I would suggest you start with a blog (a one page site with lots of information) and progress from there, as you get to know the Virtual Assistant Industry, you move on to having your own website. You can either build your own site or get a reputable company who specialises in web design to create your site for you. There are lots of Virtual Assistants worldwide who offer this service at a discount for other Virtual Assistants.
I advertise my website everywhere on the Internet, all the major SA and overseas search engines. Other VAs will see and view your website, as well as other businesses/companies worldwide.
I am using my website as a help tool for newbie and established VAs within SA. I have filled my pages with articles, Ebooks, job leads, lots of interesting items. My member section is full of information that is very helpful to Virtual Assistants.
Clients will see your website as they search the Internet for a VA. The client will contact you via your contact details which you will advertise on your website. You use your website to advertise the services you provide to clients.
It is up to the individual VA whether or not she places her rates on her site for people to see, some do, some don’t. I don’t put my rates on my site as I feel it draws the client to contact me further.
I use my website as my Internet marketing tool.
You need to keep your content on your website updated, keep adding new content as you need people to keep going back to your site, don’t make your site to fussy, written articles draw clients, links draw clients. Your aim of your site should be to draw clients and Internet browsers back to your site, time and time again. Make your site interesting and easy to read, don’t clutter it with colours, keep things simple and interesting.
An important part of a website is the keywords that you place within your site that will draw your target market to you. Its important to choose the correct words that people search on, I am a Virtual Assistant and some of my keywords are Virtual Assistant, Secretarial, Typing, Administration, these are some of the words that potential clients will use to search for as they look for a Virtual Assistant.
Your website is your Internet presence and it reflects you and your company, so it should be a reflection of who and what you are about, that’s my opinion.
Make sure you do not copy content from other people’s sites, use this website to check your site for coping: There are places on the Internet whereby you can take articles and content for free, it’s easy to search for these via Google etc. If you would like to copy something from another persons site always ask there permissions first, never just copy and paste.
Blogging is another great tool for your business, you can update your blog daily/weekly this will bring traffic to your site. Blogging is fun and there are lots of free blogging sites available. A blog is more informal than a website. Asking for comments on articles, information on your blog is a great way to interactive with other internet users, if you provide good content, people will come back to your blog often. Research the Internet and find out about blogging to give you an idea of what it is about.
My website:

Dealing with Clients

A lot of newbie Vas and Transcriptions have a Secretarial background, so should be used to dealing with clients...

The quicker you reply to an email, sms, fax or query from potential clients, you more liable you are to secure that client.
Clients must be treat as equals, you are both on the same level, and you are providing them with a service they require.
I learnt very early on in my career to provide a quality customer services and I have always done this with my clients. I treat each client as if they are my only client and they know I have a lot of clients, but I make them feel special and make them feel as if their work is very important to me and I would say that clients appreciate this.
Never try to sell a service to a client that you cannot perform, the client will immediately pick up on this and very soon you will be caught out. Only offer the services that you have experience in.
Be confident in your approach with potential clients, the more confidence you show in knowing what you are doing, this is again a way to bag the client.
Show an interest in getting to know your client, ask for company profile, company website so that you can see what that client does, that is a great help when sending out emails, doing PowerPoint presentations and doing press releases for clients and it shows you are interested in knowing more about them.
You as a VA or Transcriptionist should be the one who gives your client a rate for the job, not the client. You should be able to negotiate on deadlines, as you know how long jobs take to do. The client does not always know and often it is the case in transcription. The client has no idea how long it takes to transcribe an hour’s work, but you do. If the deadline is not reachable negotiate with the client and tell them it is unmanageable, be honest up front, never be afraid to approach a client, you are on equal terms.
Do not address clients as Sir, Madam, and Mr Brown etc; address them by their first name, as they do you. You are working with them, not for them, the way you address the client makes a difference in how they will treat you and the level in which they converse with you on.
VA and Transcriptionists are Business Owner, so make sure you portray this to prospective clients.

If you need help or assistance in dealing with clients, quotations, please contact me. I have lots of experience in dealing with all types of clients.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Backing up your Data

How many of us have lost all our information on our PC’s at some time or another. I’ve lost my data/files/software at least 3 times. I have learnt how important it is to back up my files.
I now use external hard drives which I have attached to all my office and children’s pc’s. I run backups daily for all my files, I also keep a CD and memory stick backup, I have been caught too many times lately.
I advise you to back up everything if you can. I have just lost all my photographs that I had copied onto my pc over the years, I have lost every email message I had, as I keep them in folders as often you need to go back and check something, I now have to start this again, and another thing which is very important is your address book, keep a copy, that’s the one thing you don’t want to loose and I was lucky I didn’t loose this.
It is so important to back up and you usually only realise this once you have lost all your files.
I have recently found out that having free antivirus software is not the way to go, I have a 60 day trial period with Avast Professional and when the trial period is over I will be buying a copy of the antivirus software.

Running my business: AMF Typing Services cc (I will keep updating this section as it will be helpful to all newbies to see how a VA business is run).

I want to tell you some of the steps I use in running AMF Typing Services.

I keep records of everything.
I keep client files, client details on pc and in their own personal files.
I keep a work schedule in MS Word, I use this to document every job that comes into my office. I log the date, time, what the job is and what is involved, deadline time, time the work actually is done by, and who is working on the job as some jobs are contracted out.
I also keep an Excel spreadsheet of all invoices I send and to whom, for contractors and clients. This is updated as required.
I also keep logs of specialist VAs and contractors, who are specialists say in PowerPoint, bookkeeping etc.
I keep as much information as I need for my job/business on paper and in email folders and MS Office.

I fully believe in keep good records as often you need to back track.

Friday, April 3, 2009

New Look, New Look

I invite you to visit and comment on my websites fresh new look. Let me know whether you like it or not. All comments are welcome, even if they are negative.
Working from Home as a Transcriptionist in South Africa Ebook - R90

E-Book “Working from Home as a Transcriptionist in South Africa”!

This E-book is packed with everything you need to know about working from home as a transcriptionist in South Africa. I started out as a transcriptionist in 2005 and I’ve included everything I’ve learned along the way that I wish someone had told me. How do you get that first client, how do you keep your clients, how do you invoice, and quote? What about where can you find support? What equipment do you need? All this information and more is available in my E-Book. Buy it today. This is information I wish somebody had told me – I would have been able to get going so much faster. These are my tried and trusted methods. There are many American transcriptionist guides but “Working from Home as a Transcriptionist in South Africa” has challenges and obstacles all its very own and answers particular questions faced by South African Transcriptionists.Buy my book today!! Much cheaper than other shorter publications on similar topics.

Email: or 083 442 4689.
Typewrite Transcription and Typing Services CC -

(NEW) AMF Typing Services Diary Sessions

Introducing my diary sessions: in these sessions I will update my blog often, I will let you know what kind of day ive had, if anything interesting has happened or if there is any news to tell. My aim is to show you how busy a VA can be during the day and to give you some idea how a VA can cope and handle pressure with deadlines, working for more than one client at a time.

Monday, March 30, 2009

E Book for Sale

New E Book, 'How to start your own VA Business' on sale now for R90.00.

This ebook is packed full of vital information for newbie VAs within South Africa. There is information on Pricing/Rates, Marketing, Services to Offer, Business Plans etc.

This book is a must for newbie VAs.

Email: for more information.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Portuguese Transcriptionist Required Urgently

Typewrite Transcription and Typing Services CC, contact Gaynor / 083 442 4689

Sunday, March 15, 2009

My Tips for Newbie VAs


1. Keep a few business cards, brochures on you, in your briefcase, in your handbag, shopping bag, car etc as you never know when the need arises to hand a brochure or card to a potential clients you meet. You could be sitting at the doctors waiting and start talking, a good opportunity could be missed if you do not have business cards or brochures on you or with you.

2. Act professionally at all times
Have the determination to succeed.
Provide a Quality service to your clients at all times.
Speak to your clients on the same level; you are a business owner, not a PA speaking to a Boss. Be on the same level as your client’s; do not address them as Mr Jones etc address them as Peter etc. Use first names. This immediately brings you on the same level. If you address that client as Mr Jones, this is immediately putting the client on a level higher than you; they will assume that role and treat you as a PA/Secretary which you are not.
If you feel you can give the client good advice and ideas on the tasks they assign you, do so, there is no harm in doing this. Show the client you know what you are doing; you know what you are talking about. Be confident and assertive in your approach to your clients.
When you feel a deadline is not reachable, negotiate, you will be doing the work, you know how long it will take, give yourself plenty of time to do the work and be negotiable on a deadline that you can reach. It is up to you as a business owner to tell you client ‘this deadline is unreal’ explain what is involved within the job, a lot of clients have no idea how long a particular job will take. They will give you very unreasonable deadlines. Only you know what you are capable of and you know your limits. This is often a problem in Transcription, the clients do not know how long it actually takes to transcribe and often the deadlines are tight but its up to you, as you are doing the job to negotiate this with the client, not the client to set this deadline for you, simply explain what is involved.
Do not take on jobs you have no idea how to do, a client will quickly find out you can not do this job and they will not have confidence and trust in you again. Only take on the work that you have experience in doing, especially so when you are just starting out. If you take on a job that is new to you, let the client know it’s new to you, but that you are very willing to learn and try.
State your business hours, state if you want to be contacted after hours or weekends, have this visible on your website, in your brochure, part of your terms and conditions. If you do not do so, clients will and do take advantage and contact you out of hours; clients will expect the impossible from you. Be in charge; be in control of your business.
Have your prices/rates already set before you open your business. When a client contacts you, you need to be able to get back to them quickly with a quotation. Know how much you are going to charge for each service you are going to offer. You set the price, you can be negotiable if need be, but You, not the client sets the overall price of the job, after all you are a business owner.
It is not easy running a VA business but if you schedule your day and especially if you have small children things will be easier for you. This is an example of what I do, I start work around 7am when the kids/hubby leaves for school/work, I then work till around 1.30pm, have lunch, then its time for the kids to come home, I assist with homework, lunch for them and then return to work around 2:30/3pm and work till around 6pm ish. I will come back to work after the kids go to bed if I have urgent work. I work the hours I have to work, to get my work done. If you have a husband, get his support in helping with the children while you work.
Keeps logs of what you are doing, always know what work/tasks you have in at any one time, this is helpful when you need to priorities. Know how to prioritise your work. Know how long it will take you to complete tasks. I know I can type 20 to 30 pages of typing a day, but if that typing has in graphs, flow diagrams, then it will be less and I make sure my clients know this. Your clients must know what you are capable of so that they can judge when giving you work.
If you want to be a Virtual Assistant, most Vas are Business Owners around the world, take on this role. A lot of VA’s in South Africa are saying they are freelance contractors or independent contractors why I don’t know, if you are a VA and running a business, doing the work, doing your bookkeeping, marketing and networking etc, then surely that is running a business, not being an independent contractor, there is a difference as there is a difference between PA and VA, if you are working from a virtual location, running a business you are not a PA. A PA is someone who is employed and as far as I am aware a VA is not employed. Know these differences before you open your business so that you do portray yourself as a business owner and your clients will pick up on this and treat you accordingly.
If you can use free software to do your job, there is no harm in doing this; Open Office is compatible with Microsoft Office.
Make sure you have good virus protection on your pc..
As a VA you need to keep regular backups of your work and keep each clients work separate in different folders so that the work is easy to find when required.

Feel free to comment on any of these tips above, I am quite happy to discuss any issues further, if you need me to.

Written by Alison Fourie, AMF Typing Services cc, © Copyright 2001 Ck2001/083866/23. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

VA for Hire

Introducing VA for Hire. Visit this site and join the discussion forums, this site is full of information for VAs and Transcriptionsists.

There are various Ebooks and Guides on sale.



The Transcriptionists and Virtual Assistants Forum of South Africa



From Wikipedia:
An Internet forum, or message board, is a bulletin board system in the form of a discussion site. People participating in an Internet forum will usually build bonds with each other and interest groups will easily form around a topic's discussion, subjects dealt with in or around sections in the forum.

I wonder if any of you belong to Internet Forums, I belong to 2 South Africa Internet forums and quite a few overseas forums for Virtual Assistants.

Belonging to a forum is like being part of a family, you get to know everyone on the forum and it is a great place to discuss work problems, issues, advice, software problems, advertise events, courses etc. It is a great place to spread industry news.

Our forum was founded by Gaynor Paynter (Transcriptionist) and Alison Fourie (Virtual Assistant). This forum is very chatty with Vas and Transcriptionists asking many questions.

An example being;
Question: What in your opinion is the best digital recorder to advise a client to buy?
Answer: I think the most used one is Olympus, anybody have a closer idea than that? Thanks.
Other forums members will answer with their options and often a discussion will ensure. It is also a great place to vent your frustrations on when you have a bad day, there is always someone on the forum who will reply and give you encouragement that things will get better.

Forums are an excellent way of communicating with groups of people, especially so in the working environment.

The benefits of forums:
1. Working from a virtual location, you can keep in touch with what is happening with the industry you work in.
2. No need to get lonely as often there is always someone around on the forum who will reply.
3. It is an excellent way of passing information around a group of people.
4. You can use the forum for pc problems, questions you need to know about the industry you work in.
5. A means of communicating.
6. A forum is an excellent support tool.
7. A good networking tool for small businesses.

Since the creation of Tavasa, we have helped many people working from home with questions and answers that they do not know. The more established people on the forum have been able to answer questions which helps the newbie members and assists them in setting up their own businesses.
Tavasa has been successful in that it also provides job leads and contractor positions, anyone who is part of the group can apply for a contracting position if they have the skill needed. It is a great way of getting help with projects that you need and it’s a good starting point for newbies contracting out, as they grow their own businesses.

Written by Alison Fourie, AMF Typing Services cc, © Copyright 2001 AMF Typing Services cc®, Ck2001/083866/23. All rights reserved.

VA versus PA

This is a question I am asked continually.

Worker classifications
· The traditional employee is managed and directed by the employer they work for. They are paid a salary with employment taxes deducted by the employer. Work is directed, managed and supervised by the employer.
· A temp worker is an employee of a staffing agency who goes on-site to employer (customer) premises. They are paid by the staffing agency they work for, while their on-site work and activities are managed, directed and supervised by the employer, who is a customer of the staffing agency.
· A virtual assistant is an independently contracted business owner, not an employee. They work out of their own offices, manage the work from their clients and how it is carried out, set their own rates, as well as operating standards and policies, and pay their own self-employment taxes.
· Virtual assistants help small businesses expand their businesses as well as dealing with administration duties. Virtual assistants are cost effective because you only pay them when they work. Since they are independent contractors they are tax deductible.

Personal Assistant, PA:

· A Personal Assistant is an employee who works for a Boss, he/she is EMPLOYED, this is the difference.
· Pas are employed to perform secretarial and administrative tasks for somebody such as an executive (Boss) who has many responsibilities.
· A personal assistant, or personal aide, is someone who assists in daily personal tasks for a busy or successful person. For example, a businessman or businesswoman may have a personal assistant to help with correspondence and run errands. The role of a personal assistant has expanded as the business environment has required more responsibilities. Today, a Personal Assistant may be responsible for screening incoming calls, checking emails, reviewing documentation, sending mail, doing research, scheduling reservations, booking meetings, etc. The term is often used to describe roles which would previously have been referred to as secretary. The title is often shortened to "PA".
· Personal Assistant job duties can range from menial tasks such as picking up the dry cleaning to more important tasks such as attending contract negotiations, briefing journalists on which questions can and can not be asked during interviews, travelling etc. A Personal Assistant is their employer's "go to" person. The position normally covers a variety of positions. They are receptionists, administrative assistants, runners, managers, publicists, agents etc. The job has a wide range of requirements and can often be extremely demanding as employers normally expect their assistants to be there whenever they need them. An older term for Personal Assistant was a "Girl Friday" or a "Man Friday".
· In fact, to do their jobs well, Personal Assistants must apply excellent organizational skills, tact, diplomacy, effective communication skills, maintain confidentiality in sensitive matters, and display excellent judgement. These are the same "soft" skills required for many other professional roles, such as middle management, public relations, and high-level administrative assistance. The best Personal Assistants have the ability to anticipate their employer's needs and take care of them before they are asked to do so. There is always the possibility for advancement and some Personal Assistant jobs may "morph" into other positions within the organization. Some Personal Assistants are asked to consider full time positions elsewhere in the company depending on the level of ambition and education required/desired. It is true that many employers will not see the potential for a Personal Assistant immediately and thus the Personal Assistant will remain in that position until other positions become available.
· Retrieved from ""

Virtual Assistant, VA:
· The difference here is a Virtual Assistant works for herself and runs her own business, she is not employed. She works on an equal status with her clients.
· Virtual Assistants (typically abbreviated to VAs), are business owners who provide professional administrative, technical, or creative (social) assistance to clients — usually other independent entrepreneurs and consultancy small businesses. Virtual Assistants work from their own office (hence "virtual"), thus making it a fairly popular (and growing) profession in centralized economies with "fly-in, fly-out" (FIFO) staffing practices. It is estimated that there are as few as 5,000-8,000 or as many as 35,000 Virtual Assistants worldwide. Common modes of communication and data delivery include the Internet, e-mail and phone call conferences,online work spaces, and fax machine. Professionals in this business work on a contractual basis and a long-lasting cooperation is standard. Typically 5 years of administrative experience in an office is expected at such positions as executive assistant, office manager/supervisor, secretary, legal assistant, paralegal, legal secretary, real estate assistant, et cetera.
· A VA can perform the same duties as a PA but the overall difference is one is employed and the other runs her own business.

There is a difference as to what a client would like from a VA and to what a Boss requires of his PA. Although both can perform the same tasks, a VA will liaise with her clients on an equal status and a Boss will simply tell his PA what he wants doing, I cant define it any better, if you can let me know? A VA has the freedom to know she works for herself and is her own Boss. That’s power! And the difference in the two roles. A VA has ‘the say in what she does and does not do’, its as simple as that. No matter how you look at it a PA is employed.

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