Dear Client – Please allow me to help you

Dear Client – Please allow me to help you

Dear Client – Please allow me to help you

When I started out as Virtual Assistant the only thing I could think of was how to keep my clients. Many times I wondered if they saw my value, understood my mindset, appreciated the multiple hours not billed for.  I was just happy to have work, not recognising my feeling of unworthiness.  Now being more wise, older, more balance conscious with a mindful spirit, a lot has changed for me when working with clients. I realised I am good in what I do, and I do add value, that is why my business is still thriving.  These days I feel confident to raise my opinion or speak out when I do not agree (in a respectful manner).  I can help you, sometimes it just takes 3 easy (and I mean, easy) steps:

Remember that people differ

 As a virtual assistant people think that we sit in front of a computer and do not talk, see or meet with clients.  Some weeks it felt like I have had more “personal” meetings with my clients than I ever had when I worked in corporate.  These meetings can be draining and stressful when you start out.  But as time go on, short weekly update meetings, schedule planning and strategizing will leave you with more time to focus on the job to be done.

  • Before your meeting, write down pointers to keep you on track, keep it short, and raise any concerns you have had that week.
  • We all see and experience problems differently. Remember to focus when an issue is raised and try to stay open minded.  At first, I got frustrated when my client’s suppliers could not understand me. Now being more open to the language barrier and time difference I know when to contact them, and remember it is for them just as difficult as it is for me.
  • If you feel you need to discuss certain issues with your client more, then bring that up and keep discussing it until a mutual agreement is reached.

Remember you know what you are doing, it is not about what you are saying, but about HOW, WHY and WHEN.  These days you do not need to study Human Relations to be an effective communicator or understand people, you can just google and find online courses that can help you right now.  Only a few of many:

Pluralsight

Udemy

Skillsportal

Stop Multitasking, start Batching

Early on I was multitasking so much, I sometimes called my clients by the other client’s name.  Earth please swallow me.  I was stretched thin, making mistakes, working crazy hours and got very near to burnout.  During one December some of my clients went on vacation the same time and I could focus on one wanting something done urgently.  I could focus on the project for a few hours and got the job done smoothly.  When the others returned, I was in a routine of focusing on one client’s projects for the first 2-4 hours of the day, that I had no other choice as to leave the other projects for later.  After the first 3 hours, I started to work on the other client’s projects, and guess what, I got that done quicker than I thought.  Realizing that I should focus on the one client, and not try to multitask multiple clients at the same time, made me suggest time frames to my clients that I am available to them.  This made them conscious of when to call, text or email, not being annoyed if I did not respond out of those hours.  Now I group my similar tasks in batches and can get through the projects quicker.  This helped my clients to eventually batch their tasks better. Yes, sometimes something is urgent and its needs my time now, but then I can focus, and reschedule my time around that.

Let me train you in my skillset to make your life easier

You may be the CEO of your business, but you appointed me for my skills to make your life easier.  Please allow me to modernize, edit, update and change your logistic process my way. I know what I am doing.  And after that (and usually this process takes a few months to tweak and get correct), let me train one of your people/you to work and understand the system.  Nothing is as frustrating as having to communicate mundane answers when the system is put up in such a way for you to easily access and understand it.  Especially after a long day, and I just want to spend time with my family, I am not going to give attention to something that can wait till tomorrow when I have energy.

In conclusion

It all boils down to respect.  We differ and all have bad days, but we can still work together to get through it whole and happy.  Talk to me, work smarter and remember I can help you in a way that makes your life easier.  I believe both our chapters will be interesting, sometimes stressful, but all the time respectful.  Then the outcome will be faster, smarter and hopefully profitable for us both.

Hashtag I’m staying

Hashtag I’m staying

With all the negative news in the media, and there is a lot of it – it is easy to become despondent, hopeless, fearful, angry, frustrated… the list could go on. One episode of Carte Blanche and you are guaranteed to see something to add to the gloom feeling a Sunday night can bring.

 

#ImStaying Facebook Group

While flipping through Facebook a few weeks ago, an old colleague had invited me to the #I’m Staying group. I was curious. I am sure all members have at some point in the lives been tempted or have seriously considered immigrating. We all have friends or family that have taken the leap and packed their bags for greener pastures.

 

Positive change

I was pleasantly surprised at the positive stories people were sharing. Some real lump in the throat moments that make one feel all warm and fuzzy inside. And there it was, the ember of hope in my heart, that South African people, can change this country! I believe that the Cape Town real estate entrepreneur Jarette Petzer hoped it would achieve. It now has 416,627 members and counting.

Politicians and the media love bad news. It sells, and we certainly give them enough to keep them going. The page is fostering compassion and connections between South Africans from all backgrounds. But as in life, there are always people who disagree. Instead of seeing the positive aspects, they only see the negative, claiming the group is extremely elitist, catering to a privileged white minority. I really hope that the camp of people feeling this way are the minority and that the group continues to grow – with members from all over our beautiful rainbow nation. The positive stories posted by members are being posted daily and in abundance by people of all ages, across all cultures who share a deep love for South Africa. For some, this group has been a life changer. Some have been truly despondent, and do not have any option but to #Stay!

 

Hope for the future

While people spend those few moments a day reading and seeing the good news it really does give one hope, and we can all do with some hope. Hope will overflow into our own lives, to the people we interact with daily – our colleagues, our children, our neighbours and friends. It has a huge spinoff effect. You never know how a random act of kindness, or a few kind words could impact someone’s life, it could change their life forever. And it is not only happening on SA soil, there are stories of South Africans all across the world! How amazing that it can reach all corners and impact the lives of those people around them too.

We can’t change what the politicians and negative people are doing to our country, but we sure can change our attitudes and focus on the good that there is around us. Try it, and see how it works for you, maybe you’ll be sharing your moment on #I’m Staying next!

 

“And as we let your own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same” – Nelson Mandela.

“It is in your hands to create a better world for all who live in it” – Nelson Mandela

“I believe that in the end that it is kindness and accommodation that are all the catalysts for real change” – Nelson Mandela

“Three things in Human Life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. The third is to be kind” – Mother Teresa

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless” – Mother Teresa

“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person” – Mother Teresa

The Best of Online Shopping Now

The Best of Online Shopping Now

“Just Google it” – a phrase most of us use multiple times in a day, maybe even utter to ourselves when going through the many thoughts we have in one day. In need of a red top, “just Google it”, looking for the chocolate covered pretzels, “just Google it”, in need of some new Christmas decorations, ‘just Google it”.

Nowadays anything you can think of can be found online. Even everyday needs can be found online, groceries, medication, clothing, gifts (last minute gifts – thank goodness for same day delivery), and we even have the help of social media. Online shopping is great all year round, but it is especially helpful during the Christmas period. There is nothing worse than having to visit a store – any store – on 23 or 24 December. So what do we do to ensure we are not one of the many flocking to the stores to find that last minute gift or Christmas stocking filler? You shop, and you do it all online.

I think this especially came apparent once my little girl came along, during the first three months I never wanted to leave the house, not even for a bottle of milk. So I did what every new mom does, I asked other moms how they do it, and the answers were amazing and oh so helpful. So here it is my top 10 online sites for all your shopping needs – and not only during the festive season

Zulzi

Zulzi is an app you can download onto your smartphone. Zulzi allows one to order form Woolworths, Pick n pay, Pick n Pay liquor, Dischem, and Clicks. Now the most amazing thing about this app is you can shop at all 5 stores, at the same time and someone goes and does all your shopping for you and off course delivers to the set delivery address. You can get all you may need with one app and if early enough you can have same day delivery – worse case first thing the next morning.

Woolworths and Pick n Pay online

Now I group these two together because as a mom, you know that a shopping trip always involves a trip into both of them. Now the only catch here is both online stores require a 2 to 3-day lead time, which doesn’t always work but should you be eyeing out a new pair of shoes from Woolies, a 2 to 3-day lead time is no problem.

Zando

There was a time in my life that my husband on numerous occasions thought that I was keeping Zando in business. But I must admit they make shopping so easy and cover everything one may be looking for – shoes, dresses, make-up, bedroom, kitchen, etc. you name it and they will have it. I especially find them helpful when looking for gifts for birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and even Valentine’s day, and of course some new outfits for the December holidays.

One Day Only

I’m sure I am not the only one who religiously clicks on their morning emails and scrolls through the deals of the day. Their daily deals range from kiddies, to dads, to husbands, to bosses, and more importantly for yourself. My girlfriends are always keeping an eye on any new holster specials that pop up now again, that we can all take advantage of.

One Deal a Day

So this one is kind of like One Day Only but focuses on one deal only every day. Should you come across an offer you like, definitely take advantage of it as these items go quickly.

Take A Lot

I must say this is probably the site I use the most because of its vast selection of electronics, clothing, furniture, kitchen, home, i.e. everything you may need in one place – especially on Black Friday.

Cotton On and Typo

Name the occasion, and you can find a gift. The ability to change from Cotton On to Typo also helps – meaning you can satisfy the fashionista and stationery hoarder in one go. Especially now in the festive season, they have great deals. One of the many perks is also the ability to buy for the whole family, no matter what age, gender or size.

Superbalist (the old Spree)

Very similar to Zando. The love is what I cannot find on Zando I can find on Superballist and what I cannot find on Superbalist, I can find on Zando. It is great to have options, and I love that both sites also now have a baby and kids’ range.

SA Go to Girls

I stumbled upon SA Go To Girls on Facebook and I absolutely love everything these ladies do. They are able to make and personalise almost any item you are looking for and especially have the most amazing goodies for Christmas. From home decorations, Christmas pajamas, personalized stamps, Christmas Eve kiddies’ boxes and even their new Christmas Eve mom and dad boxes. You will not be sorry getting in touch with these ladies – follow their page on Facebook.

co.za

If you are looking for something that is a little unusual and cannot be found everywhere, then this is your store.  They have great variety and allows you to get something personal for those very close to you and then something for those that you may not know as well – also known as Secret Santa, where you don’t know who may end up with your gift.

 

Now one must also not forget Netflorist, Mr Price, Clicks Online, Silvery (amazing jewelry), Nics Novelties SA, to name a few others.

A personal tip is to keep an eye on these sites during the year and grab a deal when you see them. These are great for stocking fillers or that one family member who decided at the last minute to join Christmas lunch. I hope some of these sites help you get in the last-minute shopping and some great deals before the mad rush.

What every Virtual Assistant really wants for Christmas

What every Virtual Assistant really wants for Christmas

They say hard work pays off and I thought about what I need that can make the “pay off” so much sweeter.  As VA I realised I need a gift registry to make my life easier, and why not for Christmas.  Family and Friends, please look up and take notes!

As the holidays are getting closer, I think a bit of spoiling is always a nice way to show appreciation towards the people that are working for you.  Not that Christmas is a time for presents, but rather spending a relaxing time with family and friends.  Show love and appreciation and remember to take care of yourself and others.  And as VA, I will still log in and make sure my clients are taking care of, because during the year they showed appreciation with kind words and emails.

They say hard work pays off and I thought about what I need that can make the “pay off” so much sweeter.  As VA I realised, I need a gift registry to make my life easier, and why not for Christmas.  Family and Friend, please look up and take notes!

Everyday technology to make our life easier

Apple’s list is endless, but here are a few items I would love to have.  You can shop online if the rush of Christmas is too much for your nerves (I prefer this option).   Click here for online shopping

  • The Apple watch: You can walk, be in a shop, in the car, even at home and never miss a call or text. We know VA’s need to be ready and available all the time.
  • The Laptop MacBook: With this compact and beautiful design you will look and feel professional and your work can travel with you anywhere.
  • With the Logitech 1080P desktop camera, you can speak face to face with your client and for group online meetings, no more wondering how your clients look. Just remember, you should always look your best, test the camera and view yourself before login 🙂
  • The Blue Vet microphone for that host of podcasts so that you can make clear recordings.

My choice for the Virtual Assistant’s time to relax

As I struggle to switch off, the following 2 ways still make me take a back seat and relax:

  • Kindle for those VA’s that loves reading and the choice in books they can get right there.
  • Airpods: And when you feel overwhelmed and exhausted, put on your airpods, listen to binaural beats and iTunes, and let Apple swift you away to dreamland.

For office gift ideas

  • Please buy me a good office chair for comfortable work.
  • Desk with enough space to work on and enough file space for filing.
  • Foot stool for those long hours just for comfort.
  • Lamp that has enough light.
  • Massive dry erase board if you’re the one that likes to keep an eye on your work.
  • Coffee mug warmer, for those long hours VA’s spend in front of computer or desk and sometimes get up only for a little while.

Business gifts

Investing in your Virtual Assistant and their business is sometimes the best investment you can make, so by encouraging them you can give them the next jump in your business.

Extra paid vacation

VA’s do need time and that always helps to stimulate them for the next workload and show them your trust in them.

And then just for something to consider even if it is not for a Virtual Assistant

For the ladies:

  • Shopping gift cards because some ladies do like to shop.
  • Massage gift card, for a relaxing time of no thinking.
  • Fitbit, so that your VA knows you care about their wellbeing and health.
  • Hair gift card, ladies like looking and feeling good and it gives us a boost.

For the men

  • A fishing trip, depends on how well you know your VA.
  • Sport tickets, so that they can entertain themselves.
  • Shopping gift card, men like looking neat in an outfit.
  • Airbnb gift card, so he can take a break for a weekend.
  • Nice watch, men like looking sleek.
  • Some other gifts can be found here

As the holidays are getting closer, I think a bit of spoiling is always a nice way to show appreciation towards the people that are working for you.  Not that Christmas is a time for presents, but rather spending a relaxing time with family and friends.  Show love and appreciation and remember to take care of yourself and others.  And as VA, I will still log in and make sure my clients are taking care of, because during the year they showed appreciation with kind words and emails.

What to Expect When Working with a Virtual Assistant

What to Expect When Working with a Virtual Assistant

What to Expect When Working with a Virtual Assistant

A Virtual Assistant (VA) is a person who works remotely – she can sit in an office down the street or across the world.  Working with a VA is very different from having an employee sitting in your office.  Most Virtual Assistants work for more than one person, splitting their day up between their different clients. Virtual Assistants can assist with anything from general admin, marketing, diary management to virtually anything. The concept of working with a VA is a relatively new idea and so there are things that people are not always aware of.

Communication is key

Communication in this working relationship is key, use emails, WhatsApp, voice notes or weekly meetings.  Be mindful that the Virtual Assistant is not in your office and is unable to come into your office and speak to you face to face, should the need arise.  When giving instructions to your VA, be sure to provide all the resources that might be needed for the task at hand, together with all the relevant timelines and goals that you as an employer will expect.  There should always be an open line of communication.

Work out the process

Working with a Virtual Assistant takes time to perfect.  It is suggestible that especially in the beginning, all the assignments that are given to your Virtual Assistant are reviewed and that constructive feedback is given to the VA.  This process will allow her to grow in her position and for her to ensure that over time she consistently provides what you are looking for.  Never under estimate the power of a few kind words or praise for a job well done.  It will do wonders for her self-esteem and will make your VA strive harder to ensure her work exceeds your expectations.

Stay in touch

It is the client’s responsibility to ensure that your VA knows what is expected of her.  Regular communication to make sure she is coping and on point, will eliminate unwanted surprises.  Having said this, there is no need to micromanage her.  This could lead to serious problems down the line and could very well disrupt the relationship between the client and the Virtual Assistant and blur the boundaries as to what exactly is expected of her.

Remember the human touch

Remember that your Virtual Assistant is a person, who also has feelings and emotions.  Given that that many clients have never had a face to face meeting with their VA, they forget that she too is a person.  When problems arise as they normally do, it is easy get upset and vent their frustrations at their faceless Virtual Assistant.

All in a day’s work

Having a well-balanced working relationship between client and Virtual Assistant is one of the best things a client can do for his business.  By the general day to day tasks been taken over by someone else, the client is left free to focus on growing his business without the everyday mundane tasks to contend with.