Monday, 28 September 2009

A New Career for 2010

Are you an experienced administrator or Personal Assistant looking for a new challenge, or are you struggling to get into the field. If so, you could consider becoming a Virtual Assistant (VA). There are many different definitions for what a Virtual Assistant actually is but a broad definition as taken from the Virtual Assistant Networking website is as follows: A Virtual Assistant (or VA) is a solopreneur who specializes in providing ongoing, one-on-one, collaborative-style administrative support. Like other professional service providers, Virtual Assistants operate remotely from their own places of business and utilize today's technology to deliver their services and communicate with clients. Virtual Assistants are first and foremost administrative experts. Virtual Assistants sometimes offer additional, separate specialties that fall under creative and/or technical services. Having a look at this definition it is clear that not all VA’s are equal. All VA’s will carry with them a different set of skills that they are able to provide to their clients. Among the many services that are offered routinely by VA’s are transcription and typing services, data entry, web site design and maintenance, drafting of presentations, diary management, project management, internet research, proof reading and many more. The skills and services that you offer as a VA are directly linked to the skills that you have and are comfortable offering. It is possible, and many VA’s do start their business as a part time, additional business while holding down a full time job. This obviously initially places limitations on the services that they are able to offer. Once comfortable it is possible to increase the size of your business and also ultimately say goodbye to your existing full time job. While working from home as your own boss may seem idyllic there are many considerations that you need to take into account. The first and foremost thing that you need to consider is your own ability to manage your own time. If you are capable of ignoring the glorious day outside when you have a deadline to make then you can consider the option of working as a VA. If you get distracted at the drop of a hat then you may wish to consider doing a time management course before considering this as a career.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Working From Home is easy Right!

You've decided that you think working from home would make you life easy, well you'd think so but you would be wrong. You would be amazed at the number of people who think that because you work from home you don't really work. You'll have the friend who stops by unannouced for coffeedbecause they're on leave for a day/week. The neighbour who doesn't understand why something hasn't been done that they spoke to you about urgently this morning. The friend who asks you to go on a shoppingspree with them, and then gets upset when you explain you can't as you're working. And lastly what about the partner who asks you to do something, and rings back 5 minutes later to check if it's been done.

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:
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

Hiring A VA

A VA can be great for your business if you choose the right one. Likewise, a bad VA can be very bad for your business.

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

The Wonders of Digital Dictation

Recently I was given access to a wonderful web server that facilitates the transfering of digital voice files to either a single, or pool of typists. They can then transcribe the documents using specialized software on their computers, and at a click of a couple of buttons the document is returned to the originator.

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

Secretarial Assistance

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.