A carefully planned road trip can lead to success
My journey as a Virtual Assistant has not been an uneventful road-trip without any potholes or road blocks.
When I started my journey as a Virtual Assistant, it was a means to an end. A way of making money after having my job of 24 years pulled out from under me. It was a case of sitting in my vehicle and starting the engine and driving, occasionally stopping for fuel and then continuing my journey. I have to say I was a cautious driver, never wanting to turn left onto the dirt road.
As with many a carefully thought out road-trip, one cannot take your eyes off the road. If you do, there are bound to be challenges and I have had my fair share on my journey. There have been times when I have hit a major roadblock. When my journey has come to a complete standstill and I have had to get out of my vehicle pop the hood and look inside to see what needs to be addressed. In some instances, it has been a case of topping up on my knowledge and my vehicle roars into life again, and off I go.
There have been other times when I have not been so lucky and the road side assistance have questioned me, and made me take a long hard look at myself, this had led to lengthy delays while my vehicle has been up on blocks, until the engine is repaired and I am once again able to turn the key and start driving again.
You will know I am sure, that on any road-trip one stops on-route to have a break and recharge the batteries, whilst reflecting on your journey. I have found that these breaks lead to a refreshed view on things. It has been during these picnic breaks that I have taken decisions to drive along the dirt roads less travelled. The dirt roads came with challenges for the cautious driver. I had to negotiate twists and turns of acquiring new skills and working in unchartered working territories. I do have to say though, that at the beginning of the left hand turn onto the dirt road, it took a while to enjoy this new found route of travel. I have looked at the new scenery with a smile full of confidence and self-belief that anything is possible.
This journey has taught me to become a helpful traveller. A few years ago I would have kept to myself and not shared my experience and knowledge with any other Virtual Assistants. This has changed, thanks to my VA Connect mechanics. They have always been at the road side to assist, whether it was a flat tyre, major overhaul service or just a picnic break.
My petrol gauge is on full and my vehicle is ready. I wake up every-day looking forward to my journey, wondering what I will learn and how I will grow!
The Unstoppable Force of a Motivated Women
Overall, becoming an entrepreneur is a very daunting task for most individuals, and rightly so. While the individual’s success might be seen so easily, what doesn’t get seen is the sacrifice, long hours, the having to make tough choices, the commitment to learning new skills, the self – doubt, the failures nor the amount of coffee it takes to get to that point of success.
Women in business very often have the added pressure to find the balance between perusing their passion with their role of being a wife, mom, friend, daughter, etc. This daily struggle to be the best version of themselves is, however, what makes a woman in business so unstoppable.
Paving the way
Growing up I was always fascinated with powerful, successful women and many hours where spent reading bibliographies and news articles on women such as Margaret Thatcher, Oprah Winfrey, and Esteé Lauder while daydreaming of how I wanted to have my version of their success one day. For years women have been showing the world how resilient and powerful they can really be, paving the way for us to be able to freely and confidently step out of our comfort zones and conquer any sector or industry we choose to enter. Aside from these powerful women, I have mentioned, my biggest inspiration and example was my mom. A woman who left her birth country behind to support her husband in trying to build a better life for themselves and their children, she used to work 12 -14 hour days in the business with my dad and would get home and be a full hands-on wife and mom. Today more than ever, I am convinced she is secretly superhuman because I don’t know how she did it all on her own but aside from that I realised it was an ‘ordinary’ woman who paved the way to my entrepreneurial journey.
Ordinary, the new Extraordinary
This past women’s day, I was fortunate enough to spend the morning with a diverse group of female entrepreneurs. We started the morning with as ordinary women with general chatter and introductions, we left as powerful, motivated and united women in business. After listening to each women’s story, learning about their challenges, their different skills, their motivations, their failures, the heartaches they have had to endure, their successes, I have never been prouder to be a woman! FH Sin put it beautifully saying “her soul is fierce, her heart is brave, her mind is strong”. These women, like various other I have the privilege to work with daily all seem to have the following seemingly ordinary characteristics that make them extraordinary:
- They are deeply passionate
- They do not expect perfection, they assess, learn, do their best and adjust the plan if needed
- They are not afraid to take risks
- They believe they are a success
- They practice gratitude
If it was easy, everyone would do it
Some people define an Entrepreneur as a crazy person who risks their own money for freedom, rather than exchanging their freedom for money – and I have to agree that takes a special individual to take the risk to go out and build their own legacy and their own version of success. To all my fellow women in business I would like to say thank you for being such an inspiration to those around you, keep showing up when most people would quit, believe you can – because you will and no matter how you feel, get up, dress up, show and never give up!
7 Reasons why it is good for a women to be her own boss
Internationally and in South Africa, every year we celebrate the amazing achievements of women and the progress we have made towards gender equality. Women everywhere are recognised for their leadership, particularly in business. Of course not everyone can be “Woman of the Year” but every women who is her own boss is a leader.
This year, the United Nations encourages women to innovate, think equal and build smart. Here is what the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, aims for:
“Let’s make sure women and girls can shape the policies, services and infrastructure that impact all our lives. And let’s support women and girls who are breaking down barriers to create a better world for everyone (https://www.un.org/en/events/womensday/)”.
With encouragement like this, women are finding the freedom to be their own boss all over the world and embrace these ideals. They empower themselves and are am example to other women and girls and free themselves to achieve.
But it’s easy to overlook this freedom if you only focus on the bottom line when running a business.
Free to choose!
Whether you are single, a wife or a mother, you can choose how your time is spent for a balanced life. It doesn’t matter when, how long, or where you are working as long as you deliver. You are in control You choose how to meet the challenges of running your business because the responsibility begins and ends with you.
Free to grow as a person!
As your own boss, you go from strength to strength by not relying on the approval of a boss. You measure your success by what you achieve. When things go right no one else takes the credit, you are the one who becomes more and more confident by being the boss.
Free to learn!
You learn every day that you manage your life, whether you realise this or not. You can devote that little bit of extra time to learn how to improve whatever aspect of your life and work, whether it is related to running a business or not.
Free to earn!
There is no ceiling on your earning capacity nor that of your employees. Unlike being employed at a set salary, when you have your own business there is no waiting and hoping for a tiny increase in your salary.
Free to create!
You don’t have to be the creative type to find better ways to do business, or how to make everyone’s work fun and rewarding. As an entrepreneur you must and will innovate to solve problems, use new technologies, improve your service and create new products.
Free to give back!
When you hire staff you help fulfill their own hopes and dreams. This is a perfect opportunity to create an amazing job and work environment for yourself and for others. You are giving back to others as well as growing the economy.
Free to celebrate!
This year Women’s Day in South Africa focuses on focuses on celebrating the strength, beauty and love of all South African women. As your own boss you are free to love what you do, and do the work you love.
You can be very, very proud of yourself and everything you do and celebrate your strength and entrepreneurial spirit, not only on women’s day but every day of the year.
STOP, Revise and end 2019 on a high!
I don’t know if you will agree with me but it feels like 2019 has been on fast forward mode, I cannot believe we are already in mid –July. Just a few more weeks to go and the stores will be setting up with the much-loved Christmas décor that will silently have you feeling all ‘Merry’ed out by the time the 25th December comes around. Yip, the year is going by that fast!
Having said that I’m sure you that at the beginning of the year you set some goals for yourself and you might have even added a few since then, but have you been tracking your goals? If yes – Well done! If no – that’s ok! Either way a mid-year goal check in is important. Why? For these reasons.
One of the biggest advantages of doing a mid-year goal check in is to evaluate your progress, especially with regards to work orientated goals. What have you accomplished so far? Where did you Slack off? Which goals amongst the ones you have identified are of priority to you and need more focus? Which goals have you not started on yet? What obstacles have hindered you from achieving your goals? What have you done to overcome these obstacles or make changes to your goals? Asking yourself these questions will give you a clearer picture of what you have achieved and will also give you a better understanding of what you need to do in order to finish 2019 on a high note!
Declutter your goals:
Let’s face it, the first week of January is when we are full of steam and ambition for what we want to achieve during the year, both personally and professionally and sometimes the goals we set for ourselves can be over-ambitious. Now is the time to sit and be completely honest with yourself and look what you truly can handle/do. If there some goals that you need to remove from your list, go ahead and scratch it off! After all there is always next year and it’s better to focus on two or three goals and achieve them, than have ten goals where nothing gets done.
Establish the way forward:
We often look at how far we still need to go to achieve our goals, but how often to we look at how far we have come? Doing a mid-year goal check in a great way to access and analyse how much we have actually achieved. If your not where you want to be or if you realise how you haven’t even started working on some of the goals you set out, now is a good time to put together a game plan of how you’ll change your actions/plans in order to do achieve what is important to you! Taking the step back and really determining what you want to get done, is a great way to inspire you to get back in the game, course correct and achieve more than you thought possible this year!
There is a lovely quote by Sherry Swain that says “Reflection enables us to evaluate the experience, learn from mistakes, repeat success, revise and plan” so when you sit to do your mid-year goal check in, get a notebook, start an excel spread or PowerPoint presentation whichever works for you. Physically document your goals, your progress, your to do list, set deadlines for yourself (be realistic and set mini goals that will help you in achieving the bigger goal.) after all this is what you would do when working on a work project to ensure success of a project, right? Well you as an individual and where you want to go professionally is one of the most important projects you will ever work on.
Make it a Success!
How to have a good working relationship with your Virtual Assistant
Start out with an open mind
If you have never worked with a Virtual Assistant before, first think of how it can benefit you and your business working this way. Understand that the transition from having an assistant in your office to working remotely is going to be an adjustment and allow for that.
Garbled communication produces garbled results and is a huge time waster. Decide exactly what it is that you want your Virtual Assistant to do and how you will communicate it to him or her in a way that is clearly and easily understood. Schedule a way of communication that is done daily or weekly as standard and should anything else come up that needs to be dealt with, let your Virtual Assistant know through what means you would prefer communication, be it via phone, WhatsApp, email etc and inform him or her beforehand when you know that you are not going to be available for a period of time.
Learn to be a good delegator. This is sometimes a problem for a start up business that started out with one person making all the decision and doing everything themselves. Understand that you are working with another individual that possibly doesn’t see everything as you do, so may produce results in a slightly different way than you did. Take a step back and look at the result from a different perspective and you might be pleasantly surprised to see that the result is better than what you produced originally.
Goals and time management
Let you Virtual Assistant know what is going to be expected of them and what takes priority. Be realistic in what is expected of him or her within their specified work hours. Plan ahead of time and set goals for when certain tasks or projects need to be completed by and communicate this clearly. If something else comes up that needs to be done urgently, realise that there will be a delay in getting other tasks or projects done within the original planned timeframe.
Mutual Respect and Trust
If your Virtual Assistant feels that they are appreciated and respected, they will feel a sense of commitment to you and your business. Be open to hear other opinions, your idea might not always be the best idea. Show them that you value their positive input and even constructive criticism. as this will make them feel more part of the team and even more committed to the growth of your business.
Morals and Ethical Practice
If you’re wanting a professional Virtual Assistant to be dedicated and committed to your business, don’t expect him or her to stay if you are in the habit of unethical business practice. Being clear about what is and what is not acceptable in your business dealings, will remove any grey areas and you will gain your Virtual Assistant’s respect and trust as well as your customer’s. Be upfront and let your Virtual Assistant know exactly what you and your business stand for before you start your working relationship.
“Honesty is not the best policy, it’s the only policy.” Dr Myles Munroe