Some employees never thought of a future where they would be forced to work remotely for a week, two months or even longer than that. Many people lost their jobs or had to close their companies. Maybe you were a business owner who never dreamed that a ‘black swan’ like the coronavirus would hit, and now need to think of other ways to keep your business afloat or maybe you just need to start a new business so that you can earn a pay check.
When you decide to start a business, you first need to ensure that; your innovation or business idea is addressing a long term problem, it must solve a pain point, there must be a passionate market for your product or services and most importantly, it must be ethical and not be aimed at taking advantage of people during these difficult times.
If you are planning on starting a business, have no fear as a virtual assistant can help you with ANYTHING from administrative tasks to website design! We will ensure that all processes run smoothly and that your business can grow.
Here are some Covid-19 inspired business ideas that a Virtual Assistant could help with.
1. Become a professional speaker or move your speaking business online
Speakers would previously have travelled to different venues and events but since Covd-19 many of their coaching sessions, workshops and talks have now been cancelled. For this reason speakers need to turn their events into online experiences aimed at reaching audiences all over the world
We can help a professional speaker by:
starting an online community of followers and running private Facebook groups
deciding which tools, apps and platforms are best for you to host your webinars
teaching you how to speak specifically to your audience online
setting fee schedule documents which you can use to quickly respond to conference managers and event coordinators to ensure that you don’t miss out on any bookings
helping you get onto podcasts
helping you turn your conferences into books and designing book covers
researching speaking opportunities that are a good fit for you and contacting the event coordinator on your behalf
ensuing that you are paid after each event and assist you with the billing and bookkeeping
giving you moral support and encouragement when you need it
2. Starting a Membership Programme
Many businesses like yours may have had to temporarily close their doors. Don’t view this as a total shutdown; this is a great opportunity to offer your services online. People are craving community and connection and may be facing isolation at home. Provide your clients the same value they would receive if your doors were open.
We can help you start a membership by:
coming up with valuable content that will keep the members engaged and interested
building and maintaining your website
creating PDF’s, freebies and membership cards
creating a Facebook group to encourage and manage your member community online
writing and sending out invoices to members and keeping track of all monthly/annual subscriptions
3. Turning your Brick and Mortar Business into an online business
If your brick and mortar business is already thriving offline, then why not give web visitors the choice of either buying online or at your physical store? There are many different offline businesses that can be moved online. Here’s an example. If you like to bake, you can start baking customised wedding cakes, birthday cakes, fresh bread, cupcakes and pastries. These can be posted on your Instagram page or sent out in a WhatsApp group to people in your local area. People enjoy homemade baked goodies and may place repeat orders for two loaves of bread per week or a box of six cupcakes every Friday.
A virtual assistant can assist you by:
making your social media pages look amazing by creating beautiful posters of your products for sale
taking orders and ensuring that your customer s have made payments
building brand awareness and dealing with online customer queries
offering discounts, promotions and fun events to give people a reason to shop at your store
4. Starting up a Cleaning Company
Do you enjoy cleaning so much that you wouldn’t mind opening your own cleaning business? This is the perfect time to follow your dream as sanitation and hygiene are of utmost importance right now. Offices and homes need to be cleaned more often than before. As your commercial or residential cleaning business starts to grow, things can get tough and you will need an extra pair of hands such as ours.
A virtual assistant can help by:
managing your schedule-there is nothing worse than being double booked
creating contracts, invoices, service proposals and cleaning logs
ensuring you have sufficient cleaning supplies, detergents and PPE (masks and gloves)-keeping stock of the different products can be time consuming
placing ads on career websites and interviewing cleaning/driving staff and conducting background and criminal checks
creating social media pages and campaigns to boost your business and show off the work that you have done for other clients
5. Starting up a Gardening Club
Most people are staying home and gardening as it is one of the most stress relieving hobbies that you can have. Some of us need a breath of fresh air every now and then as we get tired of being indoors. You can plant trees, flowers or even grow your own food. You can offer your expertise to other gardeners. You can give advice and information on how to grow a specific flower or vegetable, or how to get rid of garden bugs or you can record a video on how to arrange flowers in vase. How big your gardening business becomes depends on the time you put into it and the creativity that you have.
If you only want to be involved in the gardening part of things, we can always help with the administration by:
coming up with creative ideas for your website and social media pages
planning and organising how you will showcase your plants or flowers
finding interesting new ideas all the time, such as an online cooking show using vegetables from your garden
Don’t be afraid to start that business, transform your business slightly or give it a total make over altogether. Whichever you choose, a virtual assistant will be able to provide the business support that you need.
Have you ever started designing a flyer or a social media post then forty-five minutes later decide that you don’t like it and end up deleting it?
Do you ever say to yourself, ‘’This project will take me fifteen minutes to complete and instead end up spending two hours on it? Some may say that it’s part and parcel of the creative process and that they have binned many projects.
Are you one of those designers who find themselves in a time-wasting trap leaving you feeling annoyed and overwhelmed especially when you have a list of other tasks that still need to be completed?
It is important to learn how to manage your time, so here are a few techniques that may help you:
Always keep a lookout for inspiration and new ideas
Your best source of inspiration may come from looking at similar or competing designs of others. Ask yourself what inspires you about their work? What do you like or dislike? Is it the colours, the idea or style? How can you change and re-invent the design by bringing in your own fresh ideas? Save your new ideas in folders. The next time you have a project; you can quickly go to your folder and put a creative design together.
Ensure you have a good pc and even better internet
If the tools you use are inefficient, you will be as well. You will need a computer that can handle heavy graphics and large files without crawling, losing information or crashing. You cannot wait for two or more minutes each time you need to upload images from the internet or download your project. You will eventually become de-motivated to do graphic design work.
Organise your files and folders as early as possible
Think of a way that you can consistently save repetitive client projects into one folder which will include their branding guidelines, logo, colour scheme, design style and projects. Give the folder an appropriate name that can be easily found. It is quite difficult to locate a file name called IMG0213397 especially as your portfolio grows rapidly. Well organised folders will save you heaps of time and hassle in the future from having to locate a folder.
Find out what your client needs
How many times have you found yourself working to what you believed to be your client’s objective, only to find way later that you have missed the mark? If you want to get things done and done correctly, you need to communicate with your client. Here are a few questions to ask. Why are you creating what you are creating? Who is their target audience, what are the goals they wish to accomplish with the project? What is their budget for the project? What are the must have elements in their design. Ensure that you ask questions before you begin and don’t spend two weeks trying to acquire information you need to complete work that only lasts two hours.
Plan your project in detail before you create it
Have a clear vision in your mind before you start with your creation. Sketch and draft designs for about 5-10 minutes as you may need to test layouts, colour schemes and experiment with the different graphics. Ensure that you know exactly what you want to do before you start.
You name it, they’ve got it! Canvahas so many templates for flyers, resumes, brochures, business cards and social media banners that you can choose from. You will save great amounts of time if the outline of the project is already there. Design should never repeat itself, however you don’t need to re-create the wheel with every project. Only use the elements, images or fonts which could help you put together your own project. Jump starting workflows by reusing and recycling parts of a wasted project that didn’t look so great can save you time.
Get rid of the distractions
Forget about multi-tasking. Turn off your notifications, put your computer on airplane mode, and don’t feel like you need to respond to every email that pops into your inbox straight away. According to Gloria Mark a Professor in the Department of Informatics at the University of California, it takes roughly 23 minutes to get back on track again once you have been disrupted. Ignore all interrupters such as Facebook and WhatsApp for as long as you can.
Keep track of your time
When you first offer Graphic Design as a service, your time estimates will probably be inaccurate because you won’t have the experience or measurable data to see how long you worked on a specific task. Use time tracking software such as Toggl to make you more aware of the time you need to set aside to complete each project which is the key to get better at managing your time. Challenge yourself by allotting a time less time than it would usually take and always try to deliver your project a day or two before the deadline.
Stop before you think you are done
The perfectionists may not agree! Noodling over every last detail will rob you of most of your time. That one little tiny fragment that keeps annoying you because it wouldn’t move into place will probably go unnoticed. Show someone your design and ask them to give you feedback. They may think that it’s absolutely perfect and you may not have to do anything more. Remember that you are not your client so you shouldn’t judge the brochure or flyer that you are designing only according to your own standard and opinion-your client may love your design.
Any one of these time management techniques can easily save you time and boost your productivity. And finally, always give yourself a reward for completing a complicated design or project before the deadline-whether it be a café latte or a treat to the mall for a new item of clothing. Remember that enjoying what you do increases your productivity and brings out the best in you.
I have stopped listening to the news and reading stories on the spread of the virus, infected numbers, businesses closing, staff being retrenched, and what is allowed at each level. Some would say this is naïve, but to be honest my heart just cannot take it. As humans we are built to want to help those that we can. We tip the car guards and petrol attendants, we give the waiters/waitress 15-20% and not only 10%. We buy extra food for the security guards of complexes and will always try and give what we can to the less fortunate, but during these times it is difficult to give when you do not have much yourself.
So, I have decided to rather focus on the opportunities during this time. Spending time we wouldn’t normally get with our children and partners. Getting to things around the house you have said you will do for years. Sitting down to finish that baby book. Finally organizing your workday, schedule and tasks. Finishing tasks you have not found the time for. And most importantly being able to switch off.
Enjoy your home
Just as we are built to want to help others, we as South Africans are built to work. It is inbred in us, every day revolves around what time to wake up to miss the traffic, how much can we get done in the prescribed office hours, what dinner will take the quickest to cook, then it is cleaning, laundry and prep for the next day to start it all over again, never mind the additional hours put in, in the evenings on emails and tasks that you just never got to during the day.
This driving work force, it still lives on, but within the four walls of every home, it looks a little different. There is the extra hour or two of sleep as traffic is no longer a problem-child, there is no hours lost sitting in traffic, struggling to get to the office to attend to emails and meetings. This time is spent cooking breakfast and enjoying one extra meal a day together as a family, some days it is attending to emails in your pajamas, exercising at lunch time and vacuuming at 16:00 before cooking dinner. The weight on my shoulders seems a little lighter.
Smell the roses
Not everyone has little people running around ruling their homes but, in our house, this is exactly what we have. Our little one is an early-riser, so our mornings start before the sun has risen and is fast-paced. Running and jumping and swimming and reading and snacking and eating and falling and climbing. I get tired just writing this, but these are moments that we normally miss, that we are not around to enjoy. Although it is crazy and some days, I feel the years I am losing off my life span, I wouldn’t trade it for getting back to the real world. I am starting to worry about how I am going to go back to the normal.
Do it now!
Before isolation it was a case of ‘why do today what can be done tomorrow’ so in essence it was never gotten to. The glass cabinet I’ve been meaning to reorganize has been done, the baby book I never got around to finishing, is almost complete, the meals I always wanted to cook – are finally being cooked, the painting project I wanted to start has started, and the book I wanted to read, has been read. The tables have all turned. The emails I can do tomorrow, the document can be reviewed tomorrow, the project can start tomorrow. And off course none of these missing a deadline but rather being done when you can within the required timeframe. The chicken seems to be running around with all its body parts for a change.
Everyone is worried and scared, industries are facing turmoil, turnover is at an all-time low, and every single person is doing what they can to not only survive but keep sane. During the time it is difficult to stay positive and to looks for the good in each day but all it takes is one thing a day. One task that makes you happy, makes you feel lighter. One extra hour spent with your little people doing something that makes them smile and laugh. Take 20min to have that cup of coffee outside with no cellphone or laptop. Finally finish the sorting of all your emails or finishing that one task that has been lagging at your side.
Everyday do something for you, something that makes you smile, makes you feel lighter.
The ever-looming word Lockdown has become a daily subject in every household across the world. Many countries have different rules and regulations; however, the end goal is ultimately the same.
Lockdown has forced humanity to change and develop new habits and ways of life. It is said, that on average a new habit takes approximately 21 days to form and integrate into our daily lives. Lockdown for most of us, has resulted in us being confined to our living quarters and has made us readjust our daily routines. Those in essential services are still braving the outside world and the rest of us are staying home and learning to navigate this current lifestyle.
Maintaining an optimum level of wellness
We have now seen that we don’t have to physically drive to the gym or sign up for a gym membership to actively exercise. Now we have no reason for excuses. There are many South Africans participating in the Mzansi Lockdown Marathon Challenge, running a total of 42 kilometers in 21 days in their gardens. Friends and family are having virtual exercise sessions together and many are learning new exercise regimes like Yoga.
The bottom line is it should not have taken a worldwide pandemic for some to add exercise to their daily routines. Exercise is vital in achieving an optimum level of wellness. All of a sudden, we find ourselves taken notice of what we eat and consuming copious amounts of vitamins. Eating healthy and making up for nutrients we are lacking in our daily diet is necessary, embrace this new healthy lifestyle and make it your new way of life. Skip the crash diets we all only start because there is a special occasion around the corner. A healthy body results in a healthy mind, so yes add achieving an optimum wellness to your list of new habits to keep.
Regular communication with loved ones
We should all ask ourselves why has it taken a pandemic to force so many of us to regularly interact with family and friends? The answer may be one regulation of Lockdown: Social Distancing.
Why is human interaction so important? It is important for our mental health. Social contact helps humans to cope with stress and major life changes. Yes, life gets busy, loved ones move abroad and there isn’t enough time in a day to do all things we want to achieve. Family and friends are our support structure throughout life, and we should ultimately interact and ‘check in’ on one another on a regular basis, regardless if life is looking up or down.
Nowadays, technology offers us so many exciting options to have virtual group interactive sessions like Zoom, Houseparty or WhatsApp. Recent social media trends have shown many of us uploading screenshots of group chats and participants are shown to be sporting big smiles. Make a pact with your family and friends to maintain regular communication after Lockdown, this will strengthen your support structure. Yes, this is added to the list of new habits to keep.
Increased cleaning and sanitization standards
Yes, of course we all washed our hands and cleaned our houses before the pandemic. However, the pandemic has once again forced us to increase the extent of any task. I’m sure most of us feel our sanity is slightly questionable, when we are singing Happy Birthday to ourselves in the bathroom mirror for 20 seconds, each time we wash our hands.
The fact of the matter is that our hygiene standards have obviously changed, we shower and launder our clothes excessively. We find ourselves sanitizing doorknobs and light switches on a daily basis and stock piling anti-bacterial detergents each time we see it on the shelf in the Supermarket (admit it, we are all doing it). Is heightened cleaning and sanitization standards an item we should add to the list of new habits we are going to keep? Add it to the list and adapt it to fit your new way of life after Lockdown. Create a weekly cleaning schedule, helping you to keep your home beaming with pride and destroying the pile of laundry you have been dreading all week. A cleaning routine will assist in achieving a peaceful home.
Be more sustainable
Lockdown trends have shown so many of us planting our own fruit and vegetables. Being stainable is the future, it is showing our planet how much we care. So, the answer is – absolutely yes, add being more sustainable to our list of new habits we are going to keep. Develop a recycling routine that works for you and your household inhabitants, recycle your fruit and vegetable peels, you can repurpose them as compost. Purchase the extra garbage bins and implement separating and recycling your garbage. Mother nature will thank you!
The art of Self-love
What does self-love mean? Self-love is taking care of your own needs and not sacrificing your well-being to please others. Not settling for less than you deserve. Loving yourself does not mean you think you are the smartest or most beautiful person in the world. Self-love is defined as “love of self” or “regard for one’s own happiness”. Many of us now find we have the extra time on hands to do things we don’t normally have the time or energy for. Many of us are searching for hobbies and skills we can develop to keep us busy or better yet sane. Going forward let us make the time to love ourselves, we only get one life. Yes, we are adding this to our list of new habits to keep. Start out small and progress, schedule that weekly pamper session and wipe the dust off your Grandmother’s sewing machines you have always wanted to learn how to use. Take advantage of this opportunity and make the time to love yourself and develop your portfolio of skills.
Why should we continue these new habits even after Lockdown is over and this pandemic has ended? We only have one life and we should give it everything we have! Make the time, make the effort, life is short. Appreciate the small things in life, like freedom, you never know when it might be taken away, even if it is just temporarily. Adapt your new habits to life after Lockdown and be the person you have always strived to be, but never had the time to become, your time is now!
Covid-19, the most discussed and disputed pandemic of our generation and the reason toilet paper has become a precious commodity in 2020!
Jokes aside, I have to start by saying how proud I am of how our President Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa has handled the Covid-19 prevention strategy in South Africa. He has made some tough decisions like implementing and now extending the national lockdown, that unfortunately has had some less than ideal impact on businesses and individuals BUT the consequences of not doing so would be far greater.
The positive side of Lockdown
There is always a silver lining in every situation, you just need to look for it sometimes. Lockdown has been amazing in so many different ways, individuals have been given the opportunity to take the time to slow down and have some time for self-care, families are actually spending time together and where they are not able to do so, the appreciation for one another has grown tremendously. Parents have been forced to be present in their kids lives and appreciate the amazing work our teachers/nanny’s do on a daily basis and businesses have realised the opportunities and possibilities of increases their productivity and expanding their market through going digital.
Without realising it, many of us have been given such an amazing gift through all of this – the gift of time! Time to relook at what is important to us, time to practice gratitude for what we have, time to tackle better ourselves and work on reaching or adapting our goals. I personally have decided to use the time I have between the cooking, cleaning and looking after my boys (Lets be real, lockdown has also brought some chaos into our households) to focus on upskilling myself in areas that I feel would benefit my business and clients.
There some amazing institutions running specials on various courses but there are also some awesome FREE courses that can be done on platforms like Udemy, LinkedIn Learning and Google. I will actually be focusing on some of the google courses that are available.
Growth through learning
Irrespective of what sector or role you are in, learning a new skill is always a win. The reason I will be focusing on the courses available on Google is because they have some amazing online courses that are practical, up to date and won’t take more than a take than a couple of hours of your time. Learndigital.withgoogle has over 126 courses to choose from, these four are on my current to do list:
Search Engine Optimization Fundamentals:
Gain an understanding of search engine algorithms and how they affect organic search results and websites. Building on this knowledge, you’ll learn the key elements for creating an effective SEO strategy, including how to select keywords and perform keyword research; consumer psychology and search behaviour; and how to conduct on-page SEO analysis to identify opportunities to improve a website’s search optimisation.
Course time: 13 hours
Marketing in a Digital World:
This course examines how digital tools, such as the Internet, smartphones, and 3D printing, are revolutionizing the world of marketing by shifting the balance of power from firms to consumers. Course time: 30 hours
Understand Customers’ Needs and Online Behaviours:
With just some basic web analytics skills, businesses can easily measure how well their online marketing is working and get even better results. Start our free course to find out how you can easily measure your activity and understand customer needs and their online behaviours.
Course time: 1 hour
Business writing is any written communication used in a professional setting. It could be an email, memo, presentation or report. In this free course, you’ll learn some tips and guides to help you make your business communication direct, clear, and designed to be read quickly.
Course time: 1 hour
I hope you find these interesting and helpful but if not whether you find something of interest to learn or even read about on the various platforms available online make a decision to step outside your comfort zone during lockdown and learn something new, make the most of this time, you will thank yourself later!
Most of all please stay home, stay safe and stay grateful!