Monday, February 24, 2014

VA Tips & Tricks Blogging Challenge 2014 - H is for Housework

I run a full time VA business with many clients, I do not have time for housework, so I have a maid ‘Lettie’ that comes in twice a week, she cleans up, hoovers, irons etc.

I do my own washing, when I get up first thing in the morning, I take the washing basket to the scullery and put in a load, I have a quick program that take 29 minutes, the minute the washing is finished I hang it out to dry, I do this daily and as there is 4 of us we have a lot of washing, especially the teenage kids. I also will turn on the dishwasher every morning. When I finished working in the corporate world I bought a dish washer as I knew it was something I would need if I was to work from home full time, it’s the best buy I ever made. I do, do dishes if there are only a few sometimes, if I have time.

The kids do specific tasks daily, taking turns, they empty the dishwasher, get the washing in off the line, feed the dogs, lay the table for supper, peel potatoes (if we have), these tasks are shared and they do it no problem. This helps me a lot. My hubby cooks the meat and I prepare the veggies and what we are having with, sometimes I just have to prepare and put in little dishes and my hubby will cook whatever I want cooked. If I am going to use my slow cooker then I quickly prepare and turn it on later in the day to cook. Slow Cooker another great buy for a busy work at home mum.

We both work, so we share what we do. We are suppose too make our own beds and if the kids don’t make theirs then it is tough, they sleep in them the way they are, they are big enough to make their own beds and if they don’t want to, that is not my problem. They make their own lunch when they come home from school if they want lunch, they are capable.

We have a routine where everything gets done and by sticking to the routine everything works out great. If I have to work late or work weekends, my hubby will cook the whole supper and see to the kids. If my hubby is home he will prepare lunch for us all. By us working together in the house, I am able to meet deadlines and work extra time if needed after hours.

I always found it very hard to do housework and also to work full time as a VA, it just didn’t work and the housework didn’t get done as work must always come first. So we now have a balanced household and everything works and we all know what we have to do to make it work. Sharing is caring and that is what it is about in our house. Everyone will muck in and help when needed.

How do things work in your household with you working full time as a VA?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

VA Tips & Tricks Blogging Challenge 2014 - G is for Growing your Business

Everybody and everything needs to grow and so your company needs to grow. It is through continual marketing, advertising and networking that your business will grow. You can’t just open up your business and start to work; it does not work like that, ‘You have to do the work to get the work’. Marketing, advertising and networking is always going to be a major part of the life of your business.

You need to grow your client database to bring in enough work to make a profit. Businesses must run making profits otherwise what is the point. Your rates need to be enough that they cover your expenses and that there is a bit left over for profit. You don’t want to just break-even you need to make profits to survive. If you charge low rates and you won’t be in business for long. Often VAs think that if they charge low rates they will draw in many clients, do you want the types of clients that go for the low rates or do you want the type of client that pays you well and appreciates what you and they become regular clients and they know you are a valuable resource to them.

As we grow we need to make sure that our advertising material grows with us. Update your material often, don’t just send out the same advert over and over, create something new each time, maybe boast about a new product you learnt, or a new client you have just got, advertise a new skill you have just learnt, maybe you have joined a new group advertise it., you could interest others to join that group. Send advertisements out regularly.
The same with your website change it often, your website should not look the same today as when you started out, your website grows with you, keep it fresh, updated and keep up with current website trends. If you add new content to your site send out an advert advertising it, send out on your social media platforms and invite people to your site to check it out.

Our businesses have to grow for us to achieve anything, the same as we need to keep up with technology, technology changes all the time, so do we, never let your business go stagnant no matter how busy you are, keep it fresh and ongoing.

I don’t need to advertise for clients, but I do need to advertise to show that I am still in business. Your business name must always be out there to be seen.

Monday, February 17, 2014

VA Tips & Tricks Blogging Challenge 2014 - G is for Good News

As VAs the best thing we can receive is good news. Often good news comes in the form of a new client. We spent weeks doing marketing and advertising and then one day the phone rings and someone is enquiring about virtual assistant services. As you answer the phone and you are asked can you assist, the first thing you do is panic, and I think every VA does this the first few times, till you get used to it.

This is when you have to come across as being very confident and you need to know what you are talking about. As the client asks you can you assist, you can start to ask questions about what the client requires you to do. Ask as many questions that come into your head. What you can do to be prepared for this by having a list of questions ready by you for that ‘just in case a client calls time’. Have a list of questions ready for the services that you are going to offer so that you ask the right questions. When you have asked all your questions start to get to know the client, ask them about what they do, what is their company called, do they have a company website, ask can they send you a company brochure.

Show interest in the client and not just at the task at hand. Be enthusiastic and let it show it in your voice. Clients love a friendly approach, it shows that you have confidence in what you are doing and offering. Don’t be shy to offer the client advice if you think your advice can help them further. Have a one minute speech on hand to explain what a virtual assistant does and how we can assist clients. Don’t make it any longer than 1 minute as phone calls cost money, you don’t want to preach about the industry, but, you do want to get the point across how we can assist the client.

Once you get your first client usually many follow. It is just getting that one client to call. If you have done all your marketing and advertising, been out networking and networking online you should hear good news soon.

'Good news is rare these days, and every glittering ounce of it should be cherished and hoarded and worshipped and fondled like a priceless diamond.'

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

VA Tips & Tricks Blogging Challenge 2014 - F is for Fighting

We as VAs are always fighting something within our jobs. We fight to get paid, we fight to get our deadlines finished and we fight to find good subcontractors. Fighting is part of our jobs.

For many VAs its can be a battle to get paid, often on completion of a task, we then struggle to get our payments. We do the work, giving the client an excellent service then the client decides they don’t want to pay or had no intention of paying in the first place and they simply want the job done for free.

Some VAs are so busy that they fight to make their deadlines. This is one of my problems, I juggle my time between clients to make sure everyone’s work gets done and try my hardest to meet the deadlines which are not always possible. This is when time management skills come in handy, I have to stop, relook at what I have, look to see which piece of work I can get done quickly and then redo my to-do-list and start again.

Finding good subcontractors is a battle. Everyone wants to subcontract but not everyone is good and that is where the problem lies. We take on a subcontractor as they are so enthusiastic to assist and then when the job is returned and here is just one example proofreading has not been done. This makes our jobs more difficult as we are using subcontractors as we need the assistance, as maybe we are too busy, then we must stop what we are doing and proofread the work. Anyone no matter who you work for, your work must be proofread, nobody is too good that they should not proof their work, you either proof as you go or do a proof when you are finished but it is part of your job to proof any work that has been typed. Things like this slow down our production.
These are just 3 tasks that I have chosen to show that our job is about fighting to get things done; can you associate with any of them?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

VA Tips & Tricks Blogging Challenge 2014 - F is for Forward

Don’t look back but go forward. When something is done, it’s time to move on, put it behind you and move onto the next thing. As VAs we continually must move forward. When we start out our journey to become Virtual Assistants we have to keep going forward to achieve what we set out to achieve and that is to become successful VAs, with a full client list and to be working 5 days a week, 8 hours a day, that is our goal. We have many hitches along the way but we pick ourselves up again and move forward each time. No job is plain sailing; there are always obstacles in our way. 

An easy way forward is to do things in steps, take things one step at a time, we can’t do everything, but, we can achieve little things as we go along and using steps to do things makes it simpler and not as overwhelming as we think things are. I know it’s very overwhelming to start up a VA business.

When you start your business and you don't have any clients and with marketing and a positive attitude you can look for clients and when you find 1 or more you go forward. From nothing to something is going forward. From earning nothing to earning something is going forward. Earning small to more is forward. A sustained business is going forward and growing it, is going forward. Your life from nothing to something is going forward, something for you to think about:

Go back?" he thought. "No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go!" So up he got, and trotted along with his little sword held in front of him and one hand feeling the wall, and his heart all of a patter and a pitter.”  J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

Friday, February 7, 2014

VA Tips & Tricks Blogging Challenge 2014 E is for The Early Bird always catches the Worm

My philosophy has always been ‘get in first’, ‘be ahead of the crowd’, and to ‘stand out from my peers’ and I do just that in South Africa. I go by the phrase ‘An early Bird always catches the Worm’ and I do. I have always had clients contacting me all the time and always found it easy to talk the client into using my services at my price rather than go to the next VA down the line. If I want a job I will go all out to get that job, I will convince the client of how good and how I am able to assist. My office has a continuous flow of typing and my main service that I offer clients is Typing. If it can be typed I can do it. I am very old school and I find that saying this to clients helps draw them to using my services.

I started out wanting to run a typing company and never thought I would get to this point, but I’ve done it and proved that you can run a company just doing typing. I know where to look for my clients, if I want to take on more clients, I know how to get clients and am not afraid to sell my services and tell clients how good I am at what I do.

I answer emails fasts, as an email comes in and I see that it’s from a prospective client I then quickly respond, clients are impressed with a fast response, they want a VA who is pro-active and assertive.

I love the variety that I get with typing. You would think typing would be boring, typing the same thing over and over, yet I don’t I have such a variety in typing from PowerPoint presentations to graphs, tables, charts, and graphics. This is the job I always wanted to do.


Be like me and be the early bird that catches the worm. The faster you respond the better chance to get the prospective client.

VA Tips & Tricks Blogging Challenge 2014 E is for Emigrating

28 years ago on 1st February 1986 I emigrated to South Africa. In 1985 my brother-in-law came to the UK for a holiday, he suggested to me why don’t I emigrate and come to South Africa, he said I would like it and to this day it has been the best step I have ever taken in my life.

I came to this country with a very positive frame of mind and I have never looked back.

Before I left the UK friends were worried about me, telling me, don’t I think I need to buy a gun to shoot the lions, people at the time thought lions were everywhere in South Africa, they had the perception that we lived in mud huts and made fire and cooked outside. They thought the wild animals wandered in the streets and are everywhere. I knew different and did my homework before I came here, so I knew what to expect. I knew the climate, new the work situation and new what living here would be like.

After 5 years here I took a trip back to the UK and on the plane on the way back a guy asked me was I coming here on holiday and I said no I am in fact coming home. I love this country, home is where the heart is, and mine is in South Africa.

It is a lifestyle change coming here, South Africa is very different from the UK.

Since coming to SA I am now doing my dream job of working from home, running my own business, this is something I wouldn’t have thought of doing in the UK.

My aims one day are to travel and visit places in South Africa and Africa in an RV or something like that. I would love to visit places that I want to go to, the Garden Route, Game Parks, Namaqualand in the Spring, I would love to go to the wine route and sit and drink wine and have a nice lunch at a winery.

South Africa tends to get in your blood, once you have been here you will come back time and again. This is a beautiful country, the people are warm and friendly. People like to greet each other and ask each other “How are you”, this is a standard greeting. I can understand why people leave South Africa with the political and crime situation but they come back so that must say something for the country.

So here is to another 28 years in South Africa.

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