Thursday, 10 December 2009
Hope you all have a wondeful festive season with lots of joy and happiness and may 2010 be prosperous for all!
Monday, 23 November 2009
Here are some of the warning signs of online job scams. If you spot any of them in your potential job, trash it. You might be looking at a scam.
1. Asks for money. If a potential employer charges fees for more job and company information, start-up kit, training, software, or hiring you, it is most likely a scam. In the first place, you are not supposed to give money to an employer; it’s the other way around.
2. Describes itself as legitimate. If what is said about a job is more on its legitimacy but less on the company, pay, nature, and other important details, beware. This is probably just one of the marketing strategies.
3. Promises big and quick cash. Forget the job that says, “Get rich quick. Earn $1000 weekly.” Or anything of that sort. The truth is, no job can promise you fast financial success. It takes time. It takes hard labor. Such claims are typical to scams.
4. Requires no experience or skill at all. A real job needs to be done by qualified individuals. If an employer says there is little effort on your part, forget it. A legitimate employer wouldn’t entrust an important job to unreliable people. It would be a waste of their money.
5. Comes from an unsolicited email. A job posting you know you haven’t applied to and which appears in an unsolicited email message is most often a scam. Coming from an unsolicited email message, in itself, is quite suspicious.
6. Has a questionable website. A legitimate company normally provides complete contact details in its website. The absence of which might be an indicative it is a scam. If it also tells less about the company history, nature, and what it stands for, be careful.
What to do
The rule of thumb when looking for legitimate online jobs is to do a thorough research. If you find a company rather dubious, look it up in the web by typing the company name and the word “scam” in the search box. The search results can tell you whether a company is reputable.
You can also contact the employer. Ask for important details about the job such as the salary, mode of payment, and other job details not mentioned in the ad post. If the response is somewhat shady, you may want to skip that job out. An employer can tell all the job details upfront if it is legitimate.
To be more assured of the legitimacy of the job, you can ask for a list of references. It should include the company’s employees and contractors. Inquire from them how it is working for the company. Their responses should help you determine whether a job is a scam. Remember, you need to be very careful and decisive when taking on a potential job, as working online scams are growing in number.
Friday, 20 November 2009
1. More time with the family. Because online jobs can be done at home, you can set up your own home office and maximize your non-working hours by spending time with the family. You can, for instance, have lunch with your kids. Or after working hours, you can perhaps go straight to the living room and chat with your spouse rather than spend valuable time commuting. Working online, in essence, gives you more opportunities to be involved in the daily lives and routine of your family. In the end, this may mean improved relationships. Working online doesn’t mean, however, perennial availability; nevertheless, it can mean you are reachable. Of course, balancing time between family and work still depends on making a definite schedule and sticking to it.
2. Flexibility. Online jobs usually have flexible hours, with some even allowing you to work during non-standard working hours. While some might require you to work at a definite schedule, most jobs leave it up to you as long as you deliver outputs on time. This flexibility in turn gives you more control of your time. You can work into your schedule appointments and vacations a lot easier.
3. Cut down on expenses. When you work online, and therefore at home, you can save on transportation, meal, and clothing costs. You don’t need to travel kilometers and gas up. You don’t have to spend for lunch, coffee breaks, and sometimes dinner; and there’s no need for you to buy working clothes after every few weeks. And this translates to more savings.
4. Improved efficiency. Working online gives you that space and time to work alone and finish the task at hand. It is, of course, not ideal to isolate yourself from the rest of the world. But admit it, in a regular office, you sometimes find chatting with someone in the next cubicle tempting, and giving in may rob you of the time you have otherwise spent on working.
5. More job choices. There a lot of online jobs available today, from writing to data entry. This therefore means you have the freedom to choose which type of job you want to do and that which suits your skills, working style, and personality. This type of freedom is normally not available in regular jobs. In the corporate world, you often stick to one job and are not given the opportunity to explore your other capabilities.
Monday, 16 November 2009
Step one: The planning stage
There’s no better way to plot your success than planning. The problem, however, is that some people are overtaken by their ideas that they tend to jump headlong without careful planning. Just a word: Don’t skip step one. Take a time out to consider your motivations and the involved risks. If you take a look at the most successful online ventures—whether a job or a business—you will see that meticulous planning was part of the whole process.
So how do you begin? You must first identify why you want to work online. Is it because you want to have additional income? Is it to replace a 9-to-5 job? Is it to gain employment freedom? Whatever your reason is, make sure it is justifiable and is not just a whim of the moment. Nailing down early on the reason for working online will also help you get motivated when the work seems overwhelming. It will help you stay focused and driven.
Set your goals. What do you want to achieve? Where do you want to go? How do you intend to get there? Write down both your short- and long-term goals. There are times, however, that you tend to draw more big goals than small ones, which can sometimes be quite unrealistic. It’s okay to have big goals, but make sure they are achievable.
Then find out ways to reach those goals. The online community, which of course has become almost like a global community, offers a lot of varied opportunities. You can choose to put up your own online business and start selling, or you can maintain a blog and earn from advertisers. Numerous companies are also hiring online workers as web content writer, proofreader, tutor, among many other things. Of course, what you should consider are the opportunities that allow you to do what you enjoy doing. Don’t just fall for those that promise quick and big cash because most likely you will feel like leaving them as soon as you feel exhausted. And doing that brings you nowhere near your goal.
Do a thorough research. Once you have identified the right opportunity, find out what is expected of you, how you can actually generate money, the necessary adjustments, the risks, and the potential income. Many failed to do this and in the end were deceived by online job scams that promised the world but delivered not even a pebble.
Step two and onwards
As you know, having the grandest plans alone won’t bring you working online success. It can only set the stage for you, and all the rest depends on your hard work. When you work, remember to double all the time and effort you put in planning when you are already in your actual working stage. If you do, success is inevitable.
Friday, 13 November 2009
1. Have a definite work place. This can be a spare room anywhere in the house or a space in your bedroom. One thing you have to keep in mind is that your work place or home office, as what others like to call it, should allow you to function with little or no distractions. It should be well-lit and -ventilated and spacious enough to accommodate your other office gadgets. Once you have identified your work place, orient your household members about it and request them not to trudge in whenever you are working.
2. Determine your working hours. Though there are online jobs that require you to work during specified hours, some jobs allow you to work anytime of the day. Choose the time when you are most productive and be very disciplined. Just like in a corporate office, you are not supposed to leave your work when you feel like it. Keep in mind that you should maintain a professional attitude even without a prying boss or officemates.
3. Set daily goals. Doing so can help you identify your priorities and allow you to manage your time. Write your goals in a journal and see if they are met at the end of your working day. Without outlining your daily goals, you seem to be shooting aimlessly and might achieve nothing in the end.
4. Get away from online distractions. There are many of them really—social networking sites, video streaming sites, downloading sites, among many other things. Not only can they slow down your computer, they can also take much of your time. Consider this, the full 30 minutes you spend watching a video is possibly the same amount of time you need to type one thousand-plus words. And you don’t want that significant loss, would you? It’s not that you are not allowed to visit any of these sites; it’s just that you have to make good use of your working time and be as productive as you can be. Remember, there’s a proper time for play.
5. Take some breaks. The other extreme tendency in having a work-from-home online job is overworking. This is because work is just within reach and it is easier for you to spend more time doing it than relaxing. Working too much is not the way to do it, as this can potentially burn you out. Rest when you need to. Take your meal on time. Have coffee breaks. Take a day off.
6. Go out regularly. Since your job now only involves you, a computer, and a virtual community, you need to socialize and get connected with people. You can, for instance, have a movie date with your best friend or a slumber party with your former officemates. Never spend a whole week locked in the house; find a way to spend at least a day somewhere.
While these tips can help you function well, much of your success in working online from home still depends on your perseverance, dedication, and patience. This then calls you to be serious with your job.
Monday, 9 November 2009
Families are as diverse as the individuals that make them; therefore, parenting and running the household greatly vary in style. But though that’s the case, online working moms should follow specific rules to allow productivity. Here are some of them:
1. Discuss the setup with the family. It should be agreed upon by the husband and, in case they are all grown up, the kids. If the kids are still toddlers or need close attention, decide if you are going to hire a caregiver, and if you are, identify if it’s going to be a fulltime or a part-time caregiver. In most cases, part-time sitters are more practical since mommies won’t work the entire day anyway.
2. Orient yourself, the kids, and the caregiver about the possible interruptions that you can and cannot respond. Be as specific as possible and show sturdiness. Don’t go out of your home office at the sound of a whimper; instead let your caregiver do her job. If the kids are grown up, tell them the kind of environment you need and how they can help you achieve it. Children just need to be talked to and constantly reminded.
3. Define your work schedule. It depends on your preference, family, and other duties. But whatever your schedule is, make sure everyone knows it to lessen distractions and interruptions. Setting definite working hours also gives your kids the impression that they have a space in your schedule and that they can wait for their time rather than barge in your home office any time they want. Stick to your schedule at all times, unless of course urgent events merit your attention.
4. Decide whether you will have a closed door or open door policy. A closed door policy works better if you have a hired sitter. This allows you to work with little or no distractions and your sitter to comfortably assume responsibility without your constant inquiry and checking. The open door, on the hand, is advised if you don’t have a hired caregiver. With this policy, you can instantly check how the things are going with your kids and the house. But since this can invite noise and distraction, you can close the door whenever you need extra concentration and are talking over the phone.
5. Lay out your expectations—how the kids are supposed to behave, the amount of household chores you can assume, the level of noise you can tolerate, among other things. Then, set out a plan. If, for instance, your kids are older, you can ask them to tidy their rooms on their own. Or you can work far from the living or TV room. Moms working online and their families, at the start, need to make certain adjustments.
Friday, 6 November 2009
Some of my all time classics (bearing in mind that I do medical dictation) have been:
- The person who changed gender about 5 times in the space of a dictation of 1 minute.
- The person who had a short leg cast of his arm (now surely even with no knowledge whatsoever you can all work out what's wrong with that one).
- The person who had a Chief Comlaint of a Right wrist fracture who had a Left short arm cast placed.
If you're a Virtual Assistant (VA) starting out in business please remember to factor in time to proof read your reports when quoting to clients.
Monday, 2 November 2009
Setting up rules in Outlook is very easy, quick and will work on all the existing messages that you have already in your inbox.
There are some very simple easy steps that you need to take to set up rules:
- Go to Tools, Rules and Alerts,
- This will then open up another dialogue box where you select the various options to manage your messages. You can select it to work on a certain email address, a certain person or with certain words in the subject or sender email address.
- Once there you select where you want to move the emails to, you can create a new folder from here as well.
- Once you've set up all the rules you need/want, if you click Run Rules Now, and this will process all of the existing emails in your inbox.
- Once complete click OK and all future emails will be sorted out according to the rules you've created.
Friday, 30 October 2009
As a new VA though, when you take on your first few clients and until you have built up a relationship with them it might very well be worth asking for anywhere between 50 and 100% upfront for the work that you are due to undertake. While this may seem stiff it is a lifesaver for many a VA.
While not guaranteed a client who has to part with some or all of their money to get a project off the ground are likely to be more reliable to work with than one who is concerned about paying you anything upfront.
The main thing though is to trust your instincts and if something doesn't seem right about a Request for Service then before you get involved in the nitty gritty of preparing a quote why not run it past some more experienced VAs and see what they have to say, they may well have had dealings with the perspective client and be able to give you some good feedback on them.
Monday, 26 October 2009
I personally find this quite a shocking state of affairs. The rules for apostrophies really aren't that hard to remember and follow.
Firstly, there is the apostrophy when letters are missed out when words are combined, ie. cannot becomes can't, will not becomes won't, it is, becomes it's. Note that the apostrophy is used in each case where the letters are missed out and nowhere else.
The second rule, whcih granted is harder (but not really all that much) is for them to show possession, i.e. the boy's ball means the ball belonging to the boy. However the boys' ball means the ball belonging to the boys.
Incorrectly placed apostrophies can dramatically change how the sentence reads and means. Please take the time to use them correctly after all it really isn't that hard.While this is very plainly put and I'm sure if you want to take the issue a bit further than have a look at this website which goes into greater detail about the use of apostrophies.
Friday, 23 October 2009
While the aim of a Virtual Assistant (VA) is to provide office support to others in many forms of admin, it's very important that the VA doesn't forget abou their own admin policies and procedures.
If as you are starting out you create a plan for your admin processes, i.e. you invoice your clients on 25th of the month, you spend an hour a day marketing, and half an hour a day filing etc, then as you business grows and expands those policies will be easy to maintain and keep you on top of the all essential admin.Your clients won't be very impressed if they get invoiced on 20th this month, 30th next month and anytime in between the third month, it just shows that you are incapable of staying on top of your own admin procedures.
While filing may not be the thing you really enjoy doing, if you don't keep on top of it on a regular basis you will find yourself swamped under paper and unable to lay your hand on that vital file when your client requires it.
While the procedures should not be carved in stone they should at least be a start point for you to work from, as and when you get busier.
Friday, 9 October 2009
If you have received an analogue file it is possible to convert it to digital.
For this you will need a couple of things:
- A line-in or microphone jack on your computer or laptop.
- A dictaphone capable of playing the tape.
- A suitable recording program, ie Wavepad from NCH (http://www.nch.com.au/), or one of the many other programs that is capable of recording digital audio.
- Lastly, and by no means least, what potentially can be the most important, and yet least expensive, peice of equipment, an audio cable that is capable of plugging into the headphone socket of the dictaphone and into the line-in/microphone port on your computer.
Once you have assembled all the items and plugged the audio cable into your computer and dictaphone you are ready to go.
The first thing to do is under the recording options of the software ensure that the recording program is using the appropriate setting for where the audio lead is plugged in. Once this is sorted, then you can press record on the recording software and press play on the dictaphone. Wtih Wavepad, as I'm sure happens with the other packages, you will be able to see the sound volume moving up and down the scale as the file is converted to digital.
Once completed, save the file. The format that you save in will have an effect on the size of the file so you might want to experiment with them to see what gives you the smallest file without loosing quality.
The file is now ready to be sent on to your transcriptionist or sub-contractor to work on.
Monday, 5 October 2009
Why I hear you ask, well the answer is simple. The pros of using analogue dictation are mainly that the cost of the dictaphones are quite inexpensive. The cons however are many. The most traumatic for any transcriptionist is the faulty tape. this could be anything from the tape has stretched, broke, twisted or any of the other problems that tape is prone to. When this happens there is very little that can be done to retrieve the dictation. If you take into account that if you use your tapes often at least once, if not more a week, then they ideally should be replaced yearly the relatively low costs of an analogue dictaphone are no longer so cheap.
Also with analgoue dictation, for the quickest turnaround the dictator and transcriptionist ideally need to be in quite close proximity.
The cons of the digital dictaphone can be that they appear cost prohibitive, especially for the new up and coming business owner that wants to take advantage of them. The pros however are vast. The chances of loosing a dictation are usually pretty slim, unless you actually manage to delete it off the dictaphone yourself, therefore you won't have the problem of having to redictate letters. The transcriptionist can be and sometimes are located anywhere in the world. As long as the dictator and transcriptionist have access to one of the following (and this is just a basic list) then they can easily send the dictation and the finished work anywhere in the world), email, internet access, or FTP server. Obviously email is not necessarily secure but there are many websites that offer secure (meeting HIPPA security requirements in the US) file transfer.
Digital files can be quite large depending of the file format but they very often can be reduced in size iwth a little bit of experimenting with file formats.
Therefore, if you are interested in having work transcribed and you want to receive the best possible product then to be honest there is nothing better than going with the digital option.
Friday, 2 October 2009
There is nothing worse to me than receiving an e-mail that is so badly worded and with the incorrect use of grammar. I do understand that while English is the most commonly spoken language in the world that a number of its speakers are either second or third language English speakers. However with today's computers and the internet there really is no need for bad spelling and grammar. In fact those e-mails I get with incorrect grammar just confirm to me that the person has no consideration for what they are doing or who will end up reading their e-mail.
The classic for me was an e-mail I received for a business from China looking to get one of my clients to use their services. The opening paragraph of the e-mail reads as follows "We are a facotry about 300 workers.We have a long-standing experience in all kinds of knitting, & printing in all washes, designs, constructions & specifications. Like T-shirt, polo shirt ,singlet ,kid's wear, sleepwear, casual wear and sports wear."
Now firstly any decent spell checker would/should have picked up that "factory" is incorrectly spelt. Then can someone please explain how they can get some of the commas right and then mess up on some of them as well. What does that say to me, and this doesn't matter what language you speak, it says that you didn't even bother to read what you had typed or you would have picked up the grammar errors at the very least.
If you are not comfortable in the ability of your English when having business dealings then why not consider hiring a VA who can at the very minimum proof the file to make sure that the grammar is correct. Also please always remember to use your spell checker.
What is going to happen to the e-mail I mentioned above, well it went straight into the Deleted Items folder never to see the light of day again.
Monday, 28 September 2009
Friday, 25 September 2009
These are just some of the external challenges you'll face if you want to work from hom. If you can be strict and set guidelines for friends and family and not let them disturb you when you're working then working from home can be wonderful. However, having gotten past those hurdles we come to the one hurdle that will sink any work at home career faster than all of the above put together. How good is your willpower. If you are easily distracted if you're at home by yourself or if there are other people about then working from home might not be for you.
A case in point, someone I worked with a while ago was "committed" to working from home and making some money. She however had no concept of self discipline for working at home. Now I'll grant you she had a young child, but there was also a full time nanny to help look after the child and keep an eye on the house. Her work would often miss deadlines and when queried upon why her standard answer was "I needed to do something" for the child. Breaking point for me was the day at 8:30 in the morning she told me she was just going off to pay a bill, at 6:0o that night when asked about the file her answer was "Well I was out with my husband until 5:30, then we got home and it was time to make supper, then her son needed to be bathed, and put to bed before she could start on it". Needless to say that the working relationship didn't last much longer, unfortunately, she took it personally and the personal friendship suffered a bit as well.
While this is an extreme case, if you have the willpower and committmentto work from home then you will find you don't get yourself into such situations. But it is certainly worth consideringbefore decidingwhether working at home is for you or not.
A couple of good ideas if you want to work from home:
- Set rules about your workings hours. Yes they can be flexible but you do need to have some idea. It's also good for if you have clients to remind them of your hours so that you can actually have some family time.
- Think about getting dressed in the morning before starting work. I don't mean getting dressed in office clothes but at least get up and get out of your PJ's, it's amazing what an effect that it will have on your mind set.
- Don't run errands as they occur but rather try and keep them so that you can run them all together and save you time in the long run.
Monday, 21 September 2009
If you are bogged down with the nitty gritty stuff of running your business and finding that you're just not getting the time to grow your business then consider a VA.
When searching for a VA for your business there are many different things you can try.
You can try searching on the internet for virtual assistant, if you add in your field of expertise then hopefully you'll get a much smaller collection to choose from but they should be specialists in their /your field of business.
Alternatively, you can ask your friends and colleagues for word of mouth referrals. While this is a good way to get a referral you do run the risk that the VA you are referred to knows nothing about your business.
An important aspect to remember is that a VA is a business owner in their own right and they are not going to be willing to clock in and out iwth you every day, so long as they meet the deadlines that you set.
If the worst comes to the worst and either you or your VA do not feel that the business relationship is working well then you may well want to cut ties and start again. If you find yourself in this situation ask your VA for a referral as they might know someone who is better suited to the job.
By the same token if your VA approaches you about referrring you on to another VA this may well be because the new VA is better skilled in your area of expertise.
Don't get put off if you have a bad experience the perfect VA is out there waiting for you.
Friday, 18 September 2009
For those that still use analogue tapes or who e-mail or courier digital files to their transcriptionists the speed and ease of these web based services is now so advanced while remaining user friendly is amazing.
Depending on the how the web server is set up, it can allow you the ability to access your reports anywhere in the world, at any time of the day or night.
If for instance, you are called to an emergency at 2 in the morning, depending on where you and your typist are based, you could dictate and upload your file to the server and potentially have the report back on your desk when you get to the office in the morning.
If you are still using an analogue recorder, the option of moving to digital may seem exorbitant, but the amount of ease that it will allow for you and your transcriptionist to work will make the outlay pay for itself in no time at all. Also, factor in the cost of having to have two machines serviced, the costs of replacing the tapes (which ideally should be done yearly) and the potential that you may need to replace one or other of the two machines involved in the process (either your dictaphone or else the transcription unit) and really there is no comparison.
If you're still unsure about moving to digital, contact one of the many companies that offers digital transcription using a web based server and see how easy the whole process can be.
Tuesday, 15 September 2009
Has your secretary been booked off work sick and youve hired a temp.
You've given them some typing to do for you and you've now spent the last two hours correcting the work, you're now wondering how long your secretary is going to be off and how long you can hold onto the typing before you have to give the next batch to the temp.
Why not instead try a VA. We offer secretarial and transcription services and are highly skilled professional administrative personnel.
If your field of business has it's own set of terminology chances are if you hire a temp from an agency they are just going to send you however is next on the list and not bother to see what skill sets you require. Also what you pay the agency is never what the temp gets paid.
When you hire a VA you pay precisely for the services you want. You don't line someone else's pocket while you have to spend time "training" a temp that by the pure nature of what they do will only be there for a short period of time. After all the other choice is that you spend hours correcting everything that they've already done and if that's the case why have them their at all.
Next time you need temporary, short term or emergency cover why not try using a VA instead.
While VA's normal work from their own office, if mutually agreed upon they may well come to your office for a short period of time to help with filing etc. Then any work that they can do remotely from their office they will take and do for you.
So like I say why not give a VA a try next time you need a temporary short term solution to your admin crisis.