Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Does your client work all hours or do they work 8am to 5pm?

Does your client work all hours or do they work 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.

The reason I am asking is because if your clients are working all hours, weekends, you will be expected to be available these hours unless you state different. I am available to suit my clients and every one of them works all hours and weekends, but that is my preference. My children are at a stage where they are not dependent on me, they can do things for themselves, my husband understands my work and the hours that are needed for my clients so both of us work around our businesses and make things work for the family.

If you want to work 8am to 5pm make sure you go for the types of clients that work these hours.

Make your availability known to your clients as part of your client agreement contract which you should both sign at the beginning of your working relationship.

If you are starting out your business and still working full time, make sure you tell potential clients that you are working full time and only working on your business part time at present, as this will affect your deadlines. An idea can be for you when starting out is to subcontract jobs out to a full time VA till you are able to go full time within your own business.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Dictaphone - Transcription - Typing

Dictaphone - Transcription - Typing 'the difference'!

There is a difference between Dictaphone, Transcription, and Typing.
Dictaphone and Transcription are similar so we charge at an audio hourly rate or hourly rate and these are not referred to as typing in any way, they are both a skill in themselves and not everyone can do them. With both you listen then type up what you hear (Transcribe). This involves excellent listening skills, good grammar, english knowledge, knowledge of punctuation, and concentration etc.
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. This is normally quicker to do than doing a transcription of many people involved.
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. Court recording are difficult to do as they can involve a lot of speakers and different language challenges and maybe a translator being involved. A focus group is difficult to transcribe as often there is a lot of people involved and cross talking all at once.
These two skills are not the same as copy typing, they are more involved and can take many hours to transcribe into a document therefore there is normally an hourly or audio hourly rate involved not a per page rate. It will normally take between 4 to 6 hours to transcribe a one hour file. Transcription of a Focus Group meeting can take a lot longer.
A lot of people have no idea that transcription and typing are not the same thing, a client can ring you and ask you to do typing and its not really typing it is transcription, make sure you verify this before quoting on the work, ask the client for an example, they can send you an example of a transcription sound file or a page taken from what they require copy typing. Ask for details/information on these tasks before quoting, the more detail you have the easier it is to quote. Do not quote blindly.
With transcription you need to listen to the file before quoting. There could be multiple speakers, cross talking, background noise, dual languages, if you listen first it can give you a good idea of how long you think you will take doing the transcript.
Typing is what it is and is not either of the above and it’s 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, company correspondence etc.
With typing you need to ask the client for an example, a client can say well its just copy typing, that maybe but copy typing can include graphs, flow diagrams, graphics, scanning of graphics, all these take more time to create and this must be taken into consideration when there is deadlines and you need to meet that deadline. If you scan that is time taking, if you need to do a graph or flow diagram they need to be created from scratch which is also time taking, this is not simple copy typing. A graphic can be scanned or involve being retreaved from the internet therefore you may have to find it, which can involve internet research, this time has to be featured in as part of your quote. To do a flow diagram it can take quite a few hours, remember this if you charge on a per page rate. Flow diagrams are not quick and easy, you have to build it from scratch, the layout has to be right, they can be very involved. Graphs and charts can mean that they need to be done in Excel then copied across to word into your document, this is also a process of creating and copying, time taking.
So you see copy typing is often not just copy typing.
These are just points to remember if you get asked to quote on Dictatation, Trancription and Typing.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Starting up your own VA Business

  • Determine what kind of business you want to start, look at your skills and see what you enjoy doing, make a list of jobs you have done in your career, say you did e.g. Typing, Transcription, PowerPoint Presentation etc and that is what you enjoy doing, so start your business by offering the services you enjoy doing the most and expand your business from there as you get to learn and know other jobs.
  • Learn about the industry for your business, do Internet research around the world. There are many VA sites worldwide that you can visit to see what the industry is about. Search for ‘Virtual Assistants’ via Google etc.
  • Check out the market for your business, study your competition, speak to other experienced VAs, ask how they started up, etc. And if an established VA will assist you as your mentor, grab her and don’t let her go,
  • Educate yourself on running a business. Learn what a Business Owner is and what Business Owners do, you have your company books, invoicing, customer liaison, quotations, networking, marketing, debt collecting etc. There is more to running a business than just taking in typing jobs. A Virtual Assistant runs a business/company.
  • Join Associations, Chamber of Commerce, small to medium business networking groups, women’s business groups etc for networking purposes, locally.
  • Name your business, have a business name that reflects what you are doing and who you are. Design a company logo and a company slogan. This to me was one of the most exciting tasks to do when I started my company, ive been through quite a few logo's since starting and I am now happy with my current logo as it reflects what I am doing.
  • Perform a trademark search on the name you choose for your business to make sure no one else is using that name.
  • Register a domain name for your website; first check that the name you have chosen is not used by someone else. My domain name is www.amftyping.co.za, the domain being ‘amftyping’.
  • Design/Acquire a website/blogging (Example: site http://alison-fourie.blogspot.com/), this is a great marketing tool, you can list your website on search engines and add your website and company details to search engine listings, classified sections, and in directories via the internet worldwide. Your website and blog are your internet advertising tools; they portray you on-line, make sure your content is good and draws clients to you. If it’s not working within 3 months relook at your content and change it.
  • Determine business structure (sole proprietor, partnership, or corporation).
  • Evaluate your personal budget, know what your budget limits are, and work within these limits.
  • Write a business plan, list your objectives and values, create your mission statement, update as your business grows. Set up the way you are going to run your business (Procedures/structures), document it, edit, as you need to, but put it in writing.
  • Register your business with the Deeds Office in (for South African VAs only, VAs from other countries must check their own country regulations) Have a choice of company names; check out your company names via the internet, because if you find someone with the same business name you will have to change your name as they were here first.
  • Organise your office and office space.
  • Order signage, I have a sign attached to my gate with business name and details. Place signage/magnets on your car, as you drive around, you are advertising your company.
  • Obtain business tools (computer, printer, fax machine, office supplies, and fixtures, ADSL line, Broadband/wireless connection). (Make sure you have the bandwidth to cater for your job, if you are doing transcription/typing you will receive large files, you need to be able to download and upload these files so you bandwidth must be adequate.
  • Order/Create business stationery (business cards, letterhead, brochures, forms etc). You can create your own office stationery via your computer, it saves money.
  • Set a launch date.
  • Plan a grand opening event; create press releases, flyers, and notices. Send announcements to everyone you know that you are opening your business. Let people know about this, advertise strongly that you are opening your business, let other VAs know, report it on forums, Facebook, networking sites/social media. But get your opening information out there.
  • Evaluate your marketing/networking strategy/plan often and do the same with your business strategy/plan as your business changes then make note of the changes and new procedures in your business strategy/plan. Your business plan should be a working ongoing document.


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