Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The difference between Transcription and Typing

Believe it or not there is a difference between Dictaphone, Transcription and Typing, a lot of VAs and Transcriptionists don’t seem to know this.

Dictaphone and Transcription are similar so we charge at an hourly rate or an audio hourly rate and these are not referred to as typing in any way, if the client refers to them as typing tell that client it is either of the two but not typing and then explain what is involved with doing it, they are both a skill in themselves and not everyone can do them.

Dictaphone is normally one person, could be a doctor or an attorney recording into a digital machine, recording device and then you as a Transcriptionist listen to that tape and transcribe it.

Transcription can be more involved, it can be a recording of a meeting with a few people present, a conference session, court hearings etc. It is usually when more than one person is speaking and the event is being recorded.

These two skills should not be the same as copy typing, they are more involved and can take a few hours to transcribe into a document therefore there is normally an hourly or audio hourly rate involved not a per page rate. Transcribing can take anything from 1 hour to up to 6 hours depending on various factors, like language, amount of speakers, quality of tape etc.

Typing is what it is and is not either of the above and its charged at a per page rate or a per word rate (sometimes students like it per word, but not often). Typing is normally when you type from written notes, pdf documents, author's books, reports, tenders, copy typing etc.

If you let clients charge you at a per page rate for Dictaphone or Transcription then you are losing out big time in time and money as these tasks take much longer to complete and are skill on their own.

It is up to us to price accordingly for these tasks and to educate VAs, Transcriptionists and clients on the differences.

Your comments are welcome.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Quotation by Brian Tracy

People with clear, written goals, accomplish far more in a shorter period of time than people without them could ever imagine.

Brian Tracy

Goal: To earn a Million Rand as a VA in SA and to be the first VA to do this

Have you set your goals yet for your business in 2011. I am setting smaller goals that are easier to reach than setting larger goals that can take forever to reach.
Here are a few of my goals:
My main goal for my business is to make a Million Rand, to be the first VA within South Africa to reach that goal of making A million Rand while working as a virtual assistant. I believe it can be a reachable goal, it may take a while, but i believe I can do this.
One of my smaller goals is to turn my business into a Multi VA business. There is much to be done to achieve this goal but I can break the tasks needed to make the goals smaller which are associated with this so that I can make this reachable.
Write your goals for 2011 down and print and place on your wall where you can see that goal, always keep your goals in your mind.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Quote for the day 22nd December

"Desire is the key to motivation, but it's determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal -- a commitment to excellence -- that will enable you to attain the success you seek." --Mario Andretti

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Victor Poet: CW longenecker

If you think you are beaten, you are.
If you think you dare not, you don’t
If you like to win but think you can’t,
It’s almost a cinch you won’t.

If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost.
For out in the world we find
Success begins with a fellow’s will
It’s all in the state of mind.

If you think you are outclassed, you are.
You’ve got to think high to rise.
You’ve got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win the prize.

Life’s battles don’t always go
To the stronger or faster man.
But sooner or later, the man who wins
Is the man who thinks he can.

Friday, December 10, 2010

How to ?

Hi I am going to be doing a series of articles on How to ?. To give some examples:

How to liase with your new clients
How to prepare and complete your business plan
How to prepare client invoices
How to work with clients on an ongoing basis
How to go about your marketing
How to go about your networking etc.

The things that a new VA needs to know about running a business. The things you dont get told about, the basics.  So check back to the blog often.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Managing Quotes

When quoting for a client, don’t just write a reply and give a price in an email, that’s not professional. Prepare a typed quotation and attach it to an email. Include with your quotation your terms and conditions and a client/VA agreement form for signature by the client. Be professional even when giving a client a quotation. Everything you do reflects your professionalism and your company.
More Information:

  • Never be afraid to discuss information with your client, suggest things like maybe skype would be great to use for telephone calls and send your client a link to skype so that they can go and look. Look at VOIP or VOX phones, ‘pay as you go’ cell phones they can also be good alternatives if a client requires telephone services or a dedicated line for you to use for their businesses, with these services you can also provide itemized billing if required.
  • Before you quote on a job, get as much information from your client. Basic copy typing is not always, most of the time basic copy. It often includes flows, graphics etc. To do anything extra is time consuming.
  • When a client says VA tasks, ask them to break it down, be more specific of what tasks they want, this will help you when pricing. Sometimes work can be done on your hourly rate, others the rate per task. You look at each job individually.
  • Never offer a service that you can not do or perform, a client will know by the quality of the work you do if you can do a service well or not.
I get the feeling from lots of Vas and Transcriptionists that they are scared their clients will not pay so therefore lower the price, this should not be the case, if you project yourself well to your client and the client has confidence in you, they will pay for the service they are getting. I have never been scared to give a client a price, if I was I would not be in this business.

Owning your own business is a great confidence builder.

If you are concerned that a client will not pay for a service you are doing for them, ask for a deposit up front. I have never done this as I have confidence in my clients that they will pay. But it is a safe guard method to use especially with new clients and for newbies starting out.

Learn about your clients, ask them for a company brochure or company website address and go and check these out. These can be helpful when quoting, it gives you a feel of what the client/company is about.

Follow up on your quotes, ask the client do they require more information etc.

Communication in the beginning stages of working with a new client is very important.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Festive Season

Please note AMF Typing Services will be open throughout December and January, if you require assistance, please shout.
Cell: +27 082 871 3452, email: amftyping@mweb.co.za, alison@amftyping.co.za, skype: amftyping, messenger: alison19558@hotmail.com: office: +27 011 768 5028.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Is the Recession hurting Virtual Assistants

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.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Balancing your family and your home office

Organising your time is very important when working from home, especially if you have a family. You need to still spend time with your family but you also need to be committed to completing your work.

You must learn how to balance your time between your office and your family. Your office must be your working domain, away from the children, they must learn and know that this is your place of work. They must be taught not disturb your desk and equipment in any way. Maybe setting up there own little office space within your office, maybe with a little table, chair, paper and crayons could help.

A good idea is to have set times where you work in your office and times when you spend with the children, teaching the children these times and try to keep to these boundaries that you set. If possible having someone on hand to help with the children while you are working would be very helpful, maybe a maid or a Grandparent. Or an idea could be to send your children to crèche during your working hours and then have them home early afternoon and spend the rest of the day with them, if you have urgent work that needs completion, then you can start again once the children are in bed, don’t forget though that you also need to spend quality time with your husband. Another useful idea is to let hubby spend time with the children on a Saturday morning while you complete any outstanding work tasks, therefore your husband will get to spend valuable quality time with the children which he cannot do during the week because of work commitments.

Your office needs to be organized and if you practice time management skills, you will feel less stressed and more in control of your working environment. Start your day by checking first your diary to see what you have scheduled for that day, then download and check your e-mails and any mail you have for the day, then schedule all your tasks for that day on a ‘To do List’, carrying on the tasks from the previous day, add new tasks as and when you receive them onto the end of the list, use your prioritization skills to prioritize as you go. If your day is structured, your working life will be organized and less stressful. Try to keep your office stress within your office. If you are stressed this will affect the way your children behave, so remember stress stays in the office.

Try to keep everything on your desk in its own place, that way if the children have came into your office and moved anything around on your desk you will know immediately, as children do this regularly if they have access to your office. A good idea would be to lock your pc functions, screen and keys, this will stop them from upsetting anything on your computer.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Information in the VA community

As a new virtual assistant you need to get as much information about your industry as you can and one of the ways is, to join the chat forums for the many VA associations/groups we have worldwide. The forums are full of questions and answers, sharing of information etc, they are a place you can go to if you are feeling happy, sad, need a chat, want to vent, tell someone your good news etc.
Join our group forum at Yahoo: Tavasa (The Transcriptionists and Virtual Assistants of South Africa) http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/tavasa/
Another source of information is to sign up for VA newsletters, many VAs produce weekly and monthly newsletters which are full of vital information.
Another way is to follow VA blogs. Sign up as a follower.
http://alison-fourie.blogspot.com/
http://tavasa.blogspot.com/
And yet another way is to attend the online conventions which are held yearly around the world.
A great convention to attend is the OIVAC http://www.oivac.com/. 2011 is the 6th year for the OIVAC convention which is to be held 19 - 21 May 2011.
You learn many things you do not know and you meet many new friends by attending the convention. The OIVAC convention is held online, so no matter where you are in the world you can attend.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

How easy is it being a VA

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.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

It's tough being a VA

I dont think people realise how tough it is being a virtual assistant, after all you are running a full time business. My admin sort of does not get done, I don't have the time. So admin falls behind, not good. My bookkeeping is way behind. I know what is going on, but need to get it down on paper and keep it updated. As long as I work from my work schedule and take the time to put every task that comes in onto my schedule and stay organised,  its ok. But when unexpected jobs come in, quotations which can be very time consuming, telephone queries, email queries that all affects the day to day running.
A full time VA with many clients can be quite hectic especially so when clients give you day to day work, it really can test your coping, prioritisation, and time management skills. This is when its time to think do I expand. What is the next step a 'multi VA business'. Do I want to go this way? Can this work for me, that I don't know and I am very unsure of. Its a large step to take. I am reading up all the knowledge available to me and contacting other multi va businesses to see how they work, I have a good idea what I want to do but is this the way to go. Hmmm.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Potential Clients

Often clients will take time to make up their minds about whether to use a VA or not. Some clients can take a few months after the first initial contact, be prepared for this. Don't rush the client because you want work, let the client make up their own minds when they are ready to approach you.
The same applies for quotations, a client can ask for quotations but then take ages to get back to you ,on accepting their quotes. They need to know if the budget can pay your costs, they have to get approval from upper management on whether they can use a VA for the task they require. Quotation replies can also take time, be aware of this.
By all means keep in touch with the potential client but dont push them for work.
Let the client know how you can assist them, what value you think you can bring to their businesses.
Selling the concept of what a VA is about is very worthwhile.
Ask the client what their business is about, what their aims are, for their companies, as this will also help you to work out how you can assist them.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

VA Industry Survey

http://www.vanetworking.com/survey/


The Virtual Assistant Industry Survey 2010


Please participate in our 2010 Virtual Assistant Survey to help provide the media with valuable up to date stats on our industry.
VAnetworking.com is constantly being bombarded with requests from local and national media organizations asking many different questions about Virtual Assistants.
The media is always wanting answers to the six questions they use as a basis for most of their stories (Who, What, When, Where, Why & How). To aid them in getting to know about Virtual Assistants better, I’ve put together this survey.
Here is our opportunity to tell the press all about us  Virtual Assistants.
The survey will take about 20 minutes of your time to complete but at the end of it, you'll receive some downloadable gifts from our network to say thanks for giving to us.
http://www.vanetworking.com/survey/

Friday, October 29, 2010

Client Liaison

As a Virtual Assistant I deal with clients daily, either via email, skype, cell, telephone or in person.
The way you interact with a client can make a difference on whether that client will give you the task/job or not.

Being a business owner of AMF Typing Services cc I engage with clients on an equal status. A lot of VAs are ex Secretaries or Personal Assistants and they are used to dealing with Bosses and it is often difficult for them to deal with a clients on the same level, as they think of that client still as a Boss which they are not.

Always be friendly and polite. Never sell a service that you cannot do 100%. Do not offer transcription if you do not know how to do this, as you will soon find yourself in a sticky situation when the work comes in and you cannot do it. Only offer the services that you have the most experience in and that you know you can complete.

I can now judge by the response of the client whether I will get the task or not. And when there is a task/job that I am interested in, I will tell the client I can do that task, give them a deadline when it can be done and talk with confidence about that task, within a few minutes that client will give me the task to do. I am very confident in my approach with clients but I was not always like this, my years of experience as a secretary has helped me a lot with dealing with clients today. I have got a lot of experience behind me of dealing with the best and worst of clients. I am patient, friendly and very convincing when I want to do a task for a client.

I deal with a lot of Virtual Assistants within the industry worldwide and client liaison is very important. The way you write your emails reflects on your company, the way you liaise with clients via skype and in person all makes a difference. With emails and sms’s I always sign off with my signature and contact details so any potential client will always know who I am and who I work for.

Be careful as you write up your website, as you need to make sure that website is drawing in clients or the right people who you want to liaise with, in your business. Make sure your written content, sounds right and looks right. Clients also judge you on what your website is saying to them.

First appearances and sounds always count when a VA is dealing with a potential client. I dress casual for work but when I meet a client I make sure I dress appropriately.

I am a business owner and I must come across as a business owner and know what I am talking/writing about to all potential clients.

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

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

VA Business Plan

I know its very daunting start out as a virtual assistant, in fact down right scary. There is so much to be done and that horrible business plan, do I really have to write one, I dont know how, or want to know how. But its got to be done. Its the backbone of your business, without a business plan many VA and small business companies will not last long. All business even that of a VA , must have structure and procedures. How else can you work. Your business plan is like a skeleton and the pieces must fit together to work and everything is connected to your backbone, your business plan. It should take about a week to pull it together, use a template from the internet as then the categories are there and its a case of just adding your information and customising the template into your working business plan.
There are specific categories to fill in, do not rush this, think of your information, think how you want to run your business, think of the procedures that you will do for every task and document them.  If you need a bit of help with this, don't struggle, give me a shout and I will asisst.
A VA business with no structure or a clear plan is doomed. Your business plan will be a working document and will change lots especially over your first year as you settle into running your VA business.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Contratulations on first VA client

I would like to congratulate Celeste on getting her first VA contract.
I wish her luck with her new client and hope many more new clients will now come her way. Congratulations.

Céleste Schröder
Business Owner & Virtual Assistant
SCHRÖDER & ASSOCIATES CC
Suite 258, Private Bag X3, Northriding 2162
Tel : 011 794 1003 Cel: 082 764 9616 Fax : 086 612 7887
E-mail : sch.ass@telkomsa.net
Link to website: www.pa4you.co.za
Website: www.schroderandassociates.co.za
Skype: celeste_schroder
Delegate your Office Administration to SCHRÖDER & ASSOCIATES!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Tip of the day

Proof Read your work
No matter whether you are a transcriptionist, word processor, typist, virtual assistant or secretary make it part of your job to proof read all your work before sending it to the client, this is something that does not always get done and is very important, you can do a spell/grammar check but it does not pick up everything, its always good to have a good read through and spot check each word on completion of your documents.

Newbie VAs

As you start as a virtual assistant you need to think what are you going to offer clients. What are you skilled at doing, what do you like to do. The services you offer are very important. To get the type of work you would like, do target marketing it is often the way to go. If you are skilled in transcription then think what types of clients would produce transcription and dictation and market to those clients. The list is endless here.
I love to do typing and can type forever, so I look and market to the types of clients that I would get typing from.
Not every client will send you great work, some work can be boring and dull but that work still must be done if you take the work on. The client is dependent on you to complete their work. I dont mind what type of typing I get in, as long as it can be typed I will do the work, I love typing and its my niche service so I dont care if the work is boring after all it is a job and I will be paid for doing it so that to me is worthwhile and the client will be pleased with a job well done.
Everyone wants to do typing or transcription working from home well to do this you need to get out there and find this type of work, it will not fall into your lap.
As a virtual assistant you will need to have confidence in yourself to do the work and to deal and work with clients, you will need to be pro-active, assertive, get yourself out there, you cannot just sit back, you will never find clients that way, and they want find you.

To be a virtual assistant

As a newbie virtual assistant you need to be like a sponge and soak up as much information as you can that is out there.
After you have gone through the various steps to start up and are ready to get out there that is when your marketing, advertising and networking begins, this is an on going thing. A few weeks of marketing will not assist you, it is an ongoing process and that is one of the problems for VAs today. They do a bit of marketing and sit and wait, nothing will happen, but you will wait, you have to continually thoughout your virtual assistant business do marketing, it is non stop. You have to look for places to advertise in, look for places that there is no other VAs advertised that you could maybe be the first one there and I can tell you there is places out there as I am in many places and the only VA there, especially so in South Africa. Get your company onto VA directories around the world, there are many VA associations. Many offer free advertising in their directories, take advantage of this and advertise there. You need to be listed everywhere and anywhere. Use your internet skills to find directories, classified sections, site submissions etc.
I marketing a few times a week, and I do not need to, but I do it to show I am out there still in business.
Join VA forums worldwide, you will be amazed at what you can learn, attend seminars, webinars etc, established VA run these and give you loads of valuable information and a lot of the time these are offered for free.
Find a good established VA to mentor and assist you, just be careful and check that, that VA is qualified to assist first, check her service in the industry, her website/blog, company profile, ask questions to test her knowledge.
Save all information that you find as it will be very useful to you as you grow into being a virtual assistant.

Monday, September 27, 2010

AMF Typing Ebook for Sale

Available Now: EBook 'How to start up a VA Business". It is full of information on starting your own business, full of tips and advice. A must for newbie VAs! On sale for R110.00. Please email amftyping@mweb.co.za with Ebook as the subject.

A few of the sections available within the ebook:

Steps to draw up your Business Plans
Client Relationships and Pricing
Rough guide on how to price
Services
List of Services/Prices offered by AMF Typing Services cc
Overseas Clients/Pricing
Transcription/Dictaphone Typing/Transcribing
Marketing/Networking/Advertising help/tips


The ebook is packed full of all the information you will required to start up a virtual assistant business in South Africa.

Definition of a Virtual Assistant

Hi as a virtual assistant, who do you think you are? I know what I am, I am a business owner and as a business owner I have the say in every aspect of my business. I know I am not a freelancer, temp, work at home mum, etc. I run a business like any other person, doing all the same tasks, only my services are different to that of say a plumber, architect, etc.
Virtual Assistant describes what I am doing, I work for many clients, providing different services, working completely virtual.

 
My Definition of a Virtual Assistant, from: AMF Typing Services
  • A Virtual Assistant is a person who works for many clients, providing office administration tasks, communicates with clients via telephone, email, Skype; we may never meet our clients face to face. A person who works independently from his/her own virtual office.
  • An office administration person, with at least 10 years of office experience as a PA/Secretary or Office Manager.
  • A person who can work alone.
  • A person with exceptional time management and prioritisation skills.
  • Someone who can run an office and liaise with clients on an ongoing basis.
  • Someone with a bit of management experience can learn quickly and who is at ease with software.
  • We have to be pro-active and assertive.
  • Virtual Assistants are Business Owners, who run their own companies, do their own marketing, networking, bookkeeping etc.

Meeting Deadlines

One of the most important thing we need to do as virtual assistants and transcriptionists is to meet our client deadlines. Clients give us these deadlines as they need the work done and back to them for whatever reasons they want to use that work for.
It is important we know our limitations and know what we can do, we need to know how long particular tasks take to do, typing up a page, transcribing 30 minutes of transcript. You need to be able to work out with each task can you do it in the alotted time given, if not tell the client this, explain why not and ask to change your deadline, if you can meet the deadline make sure you can and give the work back in time, its even better if you can come in with the work ahead of the deadline as that shows commitment to what you are doing on your part.
Keep your client updated as you go along with the work, feedback is always a good sign that you are busy with the clients work and you are providing a quality service.
If you cannot for some reason make the deadline, do not leave it to the last minute to tell the client, tell the client well in advance and renegotiate the deadline if possible, it is not always possible, but with some work you can.
When we have more work then what we can handle we can then get assistance by asking other VAs. But these VAs need to understand we are then there client and they must meet our deadlines, which will be before the actual clients deadline, because the work will need to be proofed and checked before being returned to the client. A VA who is contracting and who cannot meet her deadline must let the VA know this well in advance.
Deadlines are very important in our jobs, we need to remember this, a satisfied client will come back and maybe become a regular client.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

I dreamt of running my own typing business

My dream a long time ago was to start my own typing business. I decided to follow that dream and try to achieve this. I left my job in the corporate world in 2001 to start up on my own. I had no idea if this could be done, how to do this, I thought I had no business knowledge. When I started up in 2001 the first thing I did was research, this is something I would advise anyone to do before they pack in your job in the corporate world I would also advise you to start up part time rather than do this the way i did it. I would spend days, months marketing and advertising, days upon days, I just kept going. In those days advertising was for free, so if you could advertise there, I was advertised, I cant tell you where, but I never stopped looking for places to advertise. My first website was with geocities, a free website. Then I met Joan Masterson, I asked Joan many questions, and build my structure/procedures and decided how I was going to run this business, I think my first client was someone wanting a CV typed up, I had advertised in some newspaper. The one thing I believe in and have always done is marketing and advertising and networking as much as possible, even now as I run a very successful full time business I still advertise to show that my business is current and to keep my company in the limelight and being seen in the corporate world. It was hard when I started out to get clients, first you had to get out there, as you do today and been seen and I was seen eventually, and slow but surely my business took off. My website has been my best advert and marketing tool.
One person that I have admired for years is Kathie M Thomas at http://www.vadirectory.net/. I was so impressed by what Kathie was doing at that time, Kathie was my inspiration to carry on. I have always had a very positive attitude within my business, I have always had confidence in what I am doing, I knew I could do this, somehow, no matter what, I just had to keep ploughing away. And today all that marketing, advertising and networking has paid off for me. So my word of advice is keep going no matter what, If I can do it you can. My dream has come true, I am working my dream.

100 posts

Hi ive just realised I have reached 100 posts on my blog, what an achievement, I did not know I had 100 posts in me to write. Interesting, I hope you enjoy reading these posts and that sometimes you get something out of them. Here is to my next 100 posts, Ali

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Do you live in your Office

Yes I sometimes feel as though I live in my office, I am in it for long hours at a time, more so than any other part of my house. Does anyone else spend as much time in the office?
In the corporate world we work set hours, here working for yourself, its all hours and more. How to get round it, you can't as you need to build your business on a continual basis. I can only think to take regular breaks and walks, out of the office, even a wander around the garden is a break, stretch your body, your arms and legs, move your head around a few times. If you have a laptop you can at least go into another room and sit and type, or even sit in the garden in the summer. Go make tea take regular breaks. That is one of the reasons why its good to make your office comfortable as you spend that much time in it. Make sure you have a comfortable chair, I sit on my office chair much more then i sit in the lounge. I spend far too much time in this office of mine.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Nine to Five (9 to 5)

I have been thinking a lot lately on how can anyone in this type of business work 9 to 5.
If you feel you can, please let me know.
If you have a full time VA business with many clients, I think and feel you have to be there when your clients need you, if you are not available that client can move on elsewhere to another VA, who will give them the service they require. I believe in providing my clients with a quality service and that includes working the hours they need me.
Its hard, its tough and I have children 13 and 9 and a hubby.
As a VA you must meet your clients deadlines, you cant just say I will do it tomorrow, things do not work like that, you have to be available when you reasonably can be. My clients appreciate this and let me know they are appreciative of my working the hours to suit them. But with doing this I have now retained my clients for years.
I do get help and assistance from other VAs with my work, as I do, most of the time have overflow. My children and hubby are very understanding of my work and give me their full support and assistance as I need it. I think without this I probably would not manage. I work better under pressure so I thrive when I am hectic, its the way I like to run my business, somehow I manage it all, how, often I dont know, but things get done.
A lot of people think when you are working for yourself, you have it made, you can work when you like, relax when you like, be there when the kids come home, spend time with the kids, and go shopping when you like. YES WELL. That does not happen when you run your own business, you find, you work many more hours to grow that business and often you are the only person within that business who knows everything about it so you have to be available and with a VA/Transcription business you do the work as well as everything else, so there is no time. Being a VA is not the being at home and spending time with the kids this is not that type of job. Its about work and building a business. In today society where money is in short supply and salaries are low and a recession is hanging around, you have to work.
I am very interested in how other VAs work their hours, how they manage running a full time business with many clients. Drop me a comment and let me know or email me, I would love to hear from you.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

2010 Afrivan VAimpact Award Winners

African Virtual Assistants Network(Afrivan) VAimpact 2010 award is finally here, thanks to all those who took upon themselves to nominate deserving individuals for this year award. VAimpact yearly award is till in it infancy stage and we might not be able to provide all the perks and incentive of awards, but I believe it no excuse not to honor deserving Virtual Assistants in and around Africa for their hard work.

Afrivan hope is that as the yearly award progresses, we will have companies to sponsor the award, provide business incentive and business opportunity for award winners.

It’s my honor to present to you this year 2010 Afrivan VAimpact Award Winner, you all truly deserve it for all your hard work, dedication even in the faces business challenges and set-backs.

These award from Afrivan is to encourage you to keep on keeping on and to give more sense of feeling that you can achieve and attain whatever you set your mind and energy to accomplish in life. The sky is no longer the limit to what you achieve, the only limitation will be you and the people you surround yourself with if you allow that to happen. These award challenge you to do more for yourself and well as for others.

Visit their full bio to get to know them as both individual and business owners and leave words of encouragement on the comment page for them.

Full Name: Alison Mary Fourie

Business Name: AMF Typing Services cc

Years in Business: 9 Years

Business Website: http://www.amftyping.co.za

Location & Country: Johannesburg, South Africa

**************************************************************

Full Names: Francis van Wyk & Marietjie Steyn

Business Name: Be Virtual Assistant Wise

Years in Business: 15 months

Business Website: http://www.be-virtual-assistant-wise.com &

Blog: http://www.be-virtual-assistant-wise.co.za

Location & Country: Vanderbijlpark, South Africa

Continue Reading More of Francis van Wyk & Marietjie Steyn Bio

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Interview Archie de Lara (Transcription Services)

An Interview with Archie de Lara, Archie provides Transcription Services to clients, he is based in the Philippines.

Why did you choose this as a career, do you see this as a career choice?
I choose transcription because I like the nature of the work. I learn different things especially in doing medical transcription. In the Philippines, transcription is a very promising career for higher income opportunity. The fact that it can be done at home also is appealing to me.

Do you work from a home office?
I presently do home base transcription. I also plan to work office based while doing the home based transcription on my extra time.

What do you like about Transcription?
I like to hear voice recordings and be able to come up withe document over that.

What advice would you give to new prospective Transcriptionists out there?
Start transcription career right. Choose the best training and make the most over it. Let your eagerness to learn more about the career lead you to become successful in this field.

What type of transcription do you provide, General, Legal or Medical?
I provide general transcription this time.

What is the most important thing about being a Transcriptionist?
The most important thing about being a transcriptionist is the attitude towards work. Never return an audio file if it is not that discernible. Just notify your client and make the most out of it.

Do you have other plans or are you planning on staying in Transcription?
I plan to stay being a transcriptionist and i would like to become a provider for other transcriptionists.

What are the benefits of doing Transcription in the Philippines?
Transcription services in the Philippines is cheaper and is of high quality.

Do you work for companies overseas outside of the Philippines?
Yes, I work for transcription companies outside the Philippines.

Thank you, regards Ali

My pleasure.
Archie's Blog: http://archiedelara.com/category/about-transcription/

Sunday, July 18, 2010

To be sick or not to be!

The one thing I find with working from home, no matter how sick I am, I work, as if I am not. If I was working in the corporate world and I did not feel well, I would ring in sick, with working for myself and working means money, I find I dont, take off sick time anymore. If I dont work, I dont get paid and the work does not get done, therefore clients can complain so its easier to work the sickness off and deal with it early morning and at night and get through the days work. When you run your own business there is no place for sickness and especially so if you are busy 24/7. How do you deal with sickness in your business when you are working solo?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Wees 'n Virtuele Assistent

NOU IN AFRIKAANS

Wees 'n Virtuele Assistent

‘n Riglyn vir professionele mense wat ‘n ambisie het om bo die res uit te styg
R90
33 Bladsye nuttige wenke Wat is ‘n virtuele assistent Hoe om een te word Wat om in oorweging te neem Watter beplanning moet gedoen word Slaggate Telefoniese en E-posondersteuning En nog baie meer

Deur: TANYA JOUBERT
Lid van TAVASA

E-pos Tanya by:
info@typingandtranscription.com
Of
Tel: 083 510 1181

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Virtual Office Assistance

Tanya Joubert
Virtual Office Assistance
Web: typingandtranscription.com
Email: info@typingandtranscription.com
Mobile: +27 (0) 83 510 1181
Fax: +27 (0) 86 655 4381

Administrative Services offered without employing additional full-time or part-time staff. We do your overload admin work from our own office.
Typing all correspondence, proposals, reports, etc.
Transcription of digitally recorded meetings/reports
Email management, database management, etc.

YOUR OFFICE AWAY FROM YOUR OFFICE

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Learn about your Clients

A lot of new VAs think its very daunting that they have to learn how to work with clients, deal with clients. When a prospective client contacts you, after that first initial contact, take the opportunity to then learn about your client, check out your clients website, get a feel for what the company is about, ask the client to let you have a company profile for your records. The more you get to know your client the better the relationship you will have. Ask your client questions about themselves and the company, ask about their interests and ask in which ways can you assist them further than just the work they need doing, your aim should be with each client to start a long term relationship and get regular work from that client. Aim to be there when the client needs you, treat that client as if they are your only client whether they are or not, make the client feel special and let them know you care, this is relevant in establishing a good working relationships with your client/s.

A new Career as a VA

I think a lot of people dont realise that as you start out as a Virtual Assistant you are starting out on a new career path. You have moved on from the corporate world to try something new. People dont link careers and virtual assistants. Most people think that as virtual assistants we do typing from home to earn extra money, well this is not the case. It is about building a solid business, building a new career. Being a virtual assistant is about running a business, doing all the things any new business would do on start up and then to get up and running. You have to do marketing, networking, client liaison, debt collection, etc. It is a new career path.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Required/Wanted Minute Taker / Shorthand Skills

Wanted/Required Minute Taker/Shorthand people, be able to take minutes or shorthand at conferences/events/meetings etc during business hours, apply to amfytping@mweb.co/za with your CVs.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Nomination for Thomas Leonard OIVAC Award

Congratulations Alison!
You have been nominated to receive the:

2010 Thomas Leonard International Virtual Assistant of Distinction Award
Presented by the Online International Virtual Assistant Convention (OIVAC).

I am very honoured to receive this nomination. It gives hope to other South African Virtual Assistants.

A big thank you, you know who you are, for nominating me for this award. regards Ali

Monday, April 5, 2010

Client discontent with VAs?

I recently read an overseas article about the possibility of our industry being on shaky ground. It made interesting reading, reporting amongst other things, that business owners at a conference had commented that they were not entirely happy with the service they received from their VAs. The lady who wrote the article was shocked to hear this, but also not surprised. This set me thinking because, after all, there are three sides to this that need to be considered - the client, the VA and the middle ground. As in everything in life there is good and bad on all sides, and it may be that some of the complaints were really genuine, whilst others stemmed from something that concerned an unvoiced expectation that was therefore not heard and acted upon.

Our business is really no different from any other service business, and frankly every business in the world is in service of a sort in that they all supply others with a widget and/or a service. And like every other business we do not always get it right for one reason or another. Sometimes these problems are our fault and sometimes they are the client’s fault, and sometimes they are down to external interference that we are not in control of.

Right up front I am going to say that it is a good idea to clarify what a client’s requirements and expectations are in writing. Create a standard guideline of hours etc., and hand to each new client along with a contract. This is useful for both you and your client, because if anything comes up at a later date it can be checked. It also lays out certain boundaries; your personal life being one of them.

The problem is that often clients tend to look at VAs as being available almost 24/7 – because they work from a home office. This is an expectation that you need to address right up front with any client, since this changes the whole perspective with regards to expectations being met. If you have no problem with being available 24/7 this is fine, but in reality we all have lives of our own and a client should not rule this side of your life, you should since it is your business. If you start out being available 24/7 with a client that client will expect this service all the time instead of this being a service that you might offer on a one off occasion that is mutually agreed upon. Be aware that once a client knows you will work outside normal hours they might be tempted to do this more and more.

Some of the complaints listed are that VAs do not:

• provide timely responses to their clients
• assist with the occasional request that requires quick turn around
• complete tasks before the agreed to deadline
• communicate appropriately or ask questions to clarify details
• pay attention to details - making sloppy errors regularly
• manage the priorities of all their clients well (leaving clients to feel their stuff is unimportant and at the bottom of the list)

I am sure every VA can equate with these. We are all human – not superhuman, and some of these things would for various reasons probably also happen in an office environment. If you have clients who have steadily encroached upon your own time outside of reasonable office hours the chances are that you will encounter most of these problems, thus affecting all your clients. One unreasonable or demanding client can ruin it for all your other clients as it means that you have to juggle your plates-on-sticks faster and faster to manage not just your working life but also your private life. If you have a client like this you really do need to make a decision about whether to suggest they find someone else, whether they should be considering hiring someone to work for them only, or whether to speak to them about the way their business demands have steadily but surely encroached upon your life and that of your other clients, and that you need to come to a different arrangement. Whatever you choose you need to ensure that this client understands the whys and wherefores of your decision so that you still maintain a good relationship and that they do not move on to someone else with the view that you were unreasonable.

This situation often arises from bullet point two, where you do assist with an occasional urgent turn around time, and the client takes advantage of this and starts expecting it more and more, purely because it was not set out at the start what both parties’ expectations were. Just because your client works odd hours, is an insomniac, and so on does not mean that you should be expected to as well. In turn your client has expectations that this be the norm and if you are not compliant or make mention of it you are then the one being unreasonable, since a) this has been the norm up to that point b) it was not laid out in an initial agreement as to what hours/days you were available and c) the client then becoming disgruntled and telling others that he/she is not happy with VAs. It is not reasonable to expect a contractor/VA to work all the hours under the sun. Worse still these types of clients will now have the expectation that any VA will work 24/7 and furthermore should be. You have created an expectation of the VA industry.

I think point one speaks for itself, but again you need to discuss with your client what their expectation of a timely response is. Some people check their emails all the time, others at set intervals or times, so you need to decide how this will work with your workloads, and be realistic when telling a client. If you are right on a deadline with a job and a client emails you, but you only check your emails every half hour or hour for example then you need to put this in your contract or business guideline – and stick to it. Many of us work alone and use a call answer service to pick up our incoming calls if we are working on something where we do not wish to be interrupted. This is normal practice but if you do this make sure that your clients understand, and get back to them as soon as possible.

I think that it would be peculiar if any client did not realise that he/she is sharing you with other clients, and take this into consideration in your business relationship with themselves; having said that each client obviously feels that their priorities should come first. Juggling several clients can be tricky, but if you build your client base carefully and ensure that each client knows the basics such as your hours, normal turn around times [always overestimate, never underestimate; if something can go wrong it will] and so on right at the start, then, barring a major catastrophe such as your equipment being stolen or your office burnt down or whatever, you should be able to ensure that all your clients are satisfied.

I will come back to the matter of normal working hours here, since this plays a big part in how you manage your clients. If you are continually being pushed by one or more of your clients to work outside of normal hours, over weekends, at night, on public holidays, you will inevitably find yourself battling to meet each of your clients’ deadlines and expectations. The reason? Because you have no ‘spare’ time in which to work, because you are already over extended with regards to the hours you work. This is very important because you are not only messing up your own work and private life but that of your clients too. By working all the hours under the sun you are not doing anyone any favours.

This brings me to another point that I do tend to belabour – fees. If you undercharge for your work/services you will find yourself working ridiculous hours to make ends meet. Take a step back and ask yourself, what is the point? You are living to work. You have no work/life balance. Ultimately you will be the loser, both financially and with your overall health. If you have a nervous breakdown, or lose your home, what matter is that to your clients? Your clients will move on to someone else, doubtless complaining that they did not get good service or you let them down.

Completing tasks before the agreed deadline; this comes down to agreeing deadlines. Always ensure that you get as long a deadline as possible. We do not live in a perfect world, and being a VA you should be very aware that the internet does not always play ball. Obviously some clients have extremely urgent deadliness but try and encourage your clients to let you have work early in order for you to be able to work on theirs timeously, or to resolve any problems with that work. Often clients will sit on work, maybe leaving it until the next day to give it to you or whatever. If you know one of your clients often does this then try to ask for the work; in other words chase your client. Short/shortened deadlines often mean problems in many other ways such as download times, the client giving you the wrong work and so on, and this in turn puts you behind with a deadline and also creates problems with your contractors, if you use others to assist you with larger jobs, AND your other clients. Clients do not take cognisance of this as a rule. It is a good idea to put some information regarding this in your work guideline for clients and any contract you draw up.

Having several clients can mean that you have to take cognisance of different parameters or ways of working that each of your clients like. This and working too many hours can lead to problems with making errors. There are several ways of doing your best to solve this problem. Aside from sticking to reasonable hours of work, on your computer have a file for each client and create an information document within this file that has pertinent information such as uses USA letter style, or likes follow-up hyphenated, prefers [inaudible] to [unclear] and so on. Some people keep a hard copy file too, and keep this next to them when they are doing work for that client. If the information document is clipped to the front cover or is the face page in the file it is there to hand to glance at. This is particularly important if you do not do regular or daily work for one of your clients. Always take out/open this information document and check it over before starting on that client’s work. As with most people we sometimes get a ‘blind’ mental block of odd words and can type them wrongly time after time without realising, for example.

Another reason for making sure you have agreed deadlines that are as long as possible is so that you can proofread your work. Clients do not realise this is important and that it is time consuming. Make sure always to point this out to clients in a client guideline. If they demand short turn around times you cannot guarantee the quality of your work.

If you work normal, regular hours with limited overtime, [as you would if you were working for a company], you will be more in control of your own life and your client’s work quality. You will have the time to make sure all your clients feel that they are important to you, that you care about their work. Having too many clients is detrimental all round. Again, this comes back to your fees. Make sure you are charging proper rates. I a client says it is too expensive point out that the bigger companies charge this and more and furthermore he/she is getting a more personal service. If you find that your workload is creeping up and taking over your life then maybe it is time to shorten your client list or take on someone to assist you.

Make sure you are doing the best for your client AND for YOURSELF, as well as the VA industry. At the end of the day they amount to the same thing.



© Copyright 2010 Corinna Turner. All rights reserved.
Cape Winds Virtual, http://www.capewindsvirtual.weebly.com / http://writejournalforme.blogspot.com/

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Typing versus Transcription

Business owners are turning to outsourcing of typing and dictation work and reaping the benefits of having virtual secretaries operating in all time zones. They benefit from not paying overheads, are not responsible for any leave pay, sick pay, medical and pension fund contributions. They do not have to provide equipment, electricity, tea or coffee or pay for private telephone calls and e-mails. Outsourcing makes a lot of financial and business sense.

What a lot of outsourcers fail to understand, however, that there is a vast difference between copy typing and transcription.

Copy typing is basically what it says – handwritten work is transformed into a neatly and accurately typed document within a specified time frame. Copy typing is not necessarily plain sailing – often the client’s handwriting is virtually undecipherable and, in the case of non-English-speaking clients, the grammar and syntax is often confusing and needs a little time and care to render into a well-written document. Once a sample of the work is obtained it is easy to quote on the job based on the complexity of the above factors.

Transcription is an entirely different kettle of fish and costs considerably more and this is where the interests of the client and transcriptionist collide. Clients often fail to understand the reasons for what appears to be an exorbitant rate but do not take into consideration the factors that underlie the need for a much higher quotation.

Even the most experienced transcriptionist works on the rule of thumb that one hour of dictation takes approximately four hours to transcribe, and quotes accordingly. This is true of best-case scenarios where, for instance, an interview or dialogue between two people is clear and audible and there is no background noise or distraction.

In reality, large and noisy meetings are conducted in what sometimes seems like a war zone with sirens wailing and traffic roaring in the background. Building work may be taking place in the adjacent office and the confused mass of voices is punctuated by regular blasts of drilling and hammering. Speakers are not introduced and the client may or may not provide a list of speakers. The microphone seems to be perched on the tea trolley, which is a fantastic idea when you really want your transcriptionist to work hard for his or her money. Throw in various accents and a few foreign speakers and now we’re all having fun. For a bit of added interest, use lots of technical and insider terms.

In this case the transcriptionist may very well have to stretch the golden rule of four to one to five or six hours as she frantically tries to Google phonetically-spelled words and technical terms or distinguish the Hungarian speaker from the Romanian speaker, the French speaker from the Moroccan-French speaker, or all four speaking simultaneously, not to mention the guy with the bad cold sitting really close to the microphone, coughing and blowing his nose, clearing his throat, etc.
So rest assured, transcriptionists are not ripping the client off; they are doing their best to produce a clear and readable transcript under very trying circumstances and should be rewarded accordingly.

Michele Johanson
michelejohanson@yahoo.com
http://goodhopetranscription.weebly.com
Fax: 086 6021 791
Ph: 084 6944 307

Monday, March 29, 2010

Charging low rates to get the client/job!

Charging low rates to get the client/job

What actually do you achieve by doing this?
1. You can get the job, YES
2. Is it worth your while doing the job at the low rate?, NO

No it is not. With each job you do you need to know that job is worthwhile to do, you need to have proper rates set up and remember you are running a business.
If this is just a game to you and you are doing this just to earn a little extra, it’s still not worth it to you as you are not being paid for your worth, you are seeing money, but what can that money buy for you from that task. What about your skill, experience and time you have spent doing the job, is that worth nothing to you. Going in at the lowest rate is not going to make money for your business, it sure want make profits. You will be running your business at a loss and is that the way to do business, not really, every good business person will tell you there is a need to make money to run your business.

Even if you charge low and take in job after job you are still losing out with your expenses that it takes to do the job. A VA should know with each job they do exactly what is involved. How long the job will take, what costs are involved as no matter what job you do there is a cost to you involved, be it your time, printer ink, electricity etc, there is a cost, these issue have to be looked at with your rates.

Wouldn’t it be better to win a job on your skills, attributes, knowledge, experience than to win because you put in a low bid for that job… Surely you have confidence in yourself to know what your skills are worth… Are they really worth that low rate! Interesting eh…

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Dictaphone - Trancription - Typing

Believe it or not there is a difference between Dictaphone, Transcripiton and Typing, a lot of VAs and Transcriptionists dont seem to know this.

Dictaphone and Transcription are similar so we charge at an hourly rate or an audio hourly rate and these are not referred to as typing in any way, if the client refers to them as typing tell that client it is either of the two but not typing and then explain what is involved with doing it, they are both a skill in themselves and not everyone can do them.

Dictaphone is normally one person, could be a doctor or an attorney recording into a digital machine, recording device and then you as a Transcsriptionist listen to that tape and transcribe it.

Transcription can be more involved, it can be a recording of a meeting with a few people present, a conference session, court hearings etc. It is usually when more than one person is speaking and the event is being recorded.

These two skills should not be the same as copy typing, they are more involved and can take a few hours to transcribe into a document therefore there is normally an hourly or audio hourly rate involved not a per page rate.

Typing is what it is and is not either of the above and its charged at a per page rate or a per word rate (sometimes students like it per word, but not often). Typing is normally when you type from written notes, pdf documents, author's books, reports, tenders, copy typing etc.

If you let clients charge you at a per page rate for Dictaphone or Transcription then you are losing out big time in time and money as these tasks take much longer to complete and are skill on their own.

It is up to us to price accordingly for these tasks and to educate VAs, Trancriptionists and clients on the differences.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Fast response times to Potential Clients

When working as a VA or Transcriptionist one of the ways to get and claim potential clients is by responding very fast. Have your email set to received emails the minute they are sent. As you receive emails asking for quotes, respond as quick as you can or even to a request to use your services, often the early bird will catch the potential client. Clients are impressed by a quick response as it shows you are ready and willing to assist that client.

If you have adsl access then you are able to sit in skype or messenger all day, you have no need to go in and out as these programs barely use any gig space/time. Often clients contact me via skype when a job is urgent, they know they will get a fast response by using this method of communication from me.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Does your clients work all hours or 8am to 5pm?

Your clients working hours will impact on your working hours, so make sure you are both in sync about the hours you work.

If your clients are working all hours and weekends you will be expected to be available these hous also, unless you state different. I am available to suit my clients and all my clients work long hours and weekends, but that is my agreement with them and my preference.

If you want to work 8am to 5pm make sure you let your clients know this and make sure when you look for clients you look for the types of clients that work these hours. Working hours can be very important to some clients when they are looking for a VA or Transcriptionist.

Make sure your hours are part of your working agreement with your client.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Goals for 2010

A good way to start of the new year is to set goals for your business. Look at what you did and did not achieve last year, then look at what you would like to achieve in your business for 2010. Set small acheiveable goals and then longer term goals. We have the world cup coming to SA soon, so a good goal to set is to do plenty of marketing. Goal setting is an important part of any business.

Greetings for 2010

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