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/

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