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:
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.
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.
“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 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.
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.
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.
Get Your Goals Done With this Mid-Year Check-In
Goal setting is essential to living a life with purpose and meaning. Goals give our lives direction and focus, and help us stay motivated.
Nearly everything in life revolves around goals, they encompass all of our plans for the future, all of our hopes, dreams and visions for what we want in life. And yet we often fail to reach our goals. That’s because we’re all human and can be easily distracted.
Avoid the Mid-Year Slump
Maybe you’ve been powering through and are making great progress toward your goals. If so, that’s great! Take a look back and enjoy seeing what you’ve accomplished. At this point, the danger is letting complacency set in. You want to keep moving forward and avoid that mid-year slump that can derail your progress for the remaining half of the year.
Check In to Reach Your Goals
Checking in on your goals might show you progress you didn’t know you’d made, that’s always encouraging. Checking in can also give you some insight about how you need to change your goals.
How to Check In
Go back to your goal list (if you’re pursuing more than one) or your goal description.
Ask yourself, where did I start? Where am I now? The point is not to berate yourself, it’s to accurately assess your rate of progress, the obstacles encountered, and to determine how you can keep going and even improve for the rest of the year.
Set some markers for progress, one every two to four weeks, and check in when you reach each marker. A little at a time adds up to a lot, and you’ve got five more months in this year to get things done.
Evaluating your progress is like drawing up a roadmap for the year. You can’t get back on track if you don’t even know where the track is or if it leads to where you want to go.
Have you ever set a goal at the beginning of the year only to realize you don’t care about it just a few months later?
That’s why evaluating your progress isn’t just about making sure you’re working hard on your goals, it’s about making sure your goals still work for you.
Ask yourself why you want to accomplish each goal. If you don’t have a good enough answer, it’s time to say goodbye.
- What are my achievements?
- What are my struggles?
- What is the next step?
Using these three questions to work your way through your goals for the rest of the year, really gives you the opportunity for a reset. I urge you to physically write the answers to these questions down, and not just think of the answers, you will find if you can be honest with yourself and write out your struggles, you will be more likely to pinpoint the steps needed to achieve your goals.
It is important to not get defeated at this point. If there is a goal on your list that you haven’t even began to work towards, don’t put yourself down for it. Break the goal down into smaller, tangible goals. Try to give yourself the grace you would give to someone else.
It is never too late to start again. Trust where you are in your journey and be honest with yourself and you will find a way to reach your goals.
SARS Implemented Changes – 3 Reasons You Need to Rethink Submitting Your Annual Personal Income Tax Return Today
This year SARS has not only updated their e-filing platform but also made some other notable announcements. Today we’re looking at what this means for the individual taxpayer and if these changes are something to be worried about. Let’s dig in!
In June this year SARS announced that if you (that would be all personal income taxpayers) earn less than R500,000 a year there would be no need to submit a tax return. This limit was set at R350,000 previously. While this sounded like an announcement to celebrate to most, there are hidden implications that few have thought of when they started celebrating not having to submit returns to SARS anymore. Now it also needs to be said that there are conditions attached to this announcement and this was the first bit of crucial information that I saw neglected as people started sharing this announcement in great celebratory fashion on social media. I had a distinct “uh oh” moment when I saw the comments of course, with total disregards for the conditions accompanying this announcement!
3 Possible Implications
At the moment, there are five possible implications that could be highlighted as concerns. So, why would not submitting a return this year get you into hot water later or have you pulling your hair out?
#1 An unbroken record
If you have been submitting returns for the last few years, you are already in the routine of submitting your returns. So why not continue to do so? Yes, I know you hate dealing with SARS! To tell you the truth very few people find it enjoyable, do they? The thing is, up to date you’ve had an unbroken record, don’t you think it’s worth it to keep it that way? What will happen if SARS suddenly changes their minds…AGAIN? And now you have to suddenly run around, compiling docs because you slacked off with your filing… No, that’s not for me!
#2 Need a Tax Clearance Certificate?
You might need one you. Why? To borrow money! Should there ever be a need for you to borrow money of a long term nature i.e. a mortgage for a property, you will usually be requested to provide a TCC (Tax Clearance Certificate) which can only be obtained if ALL returns are submitted and up to date with no outstanding payments, penalties or interest of course.
#3 You won’t get your refund
I left the most meaningful one (to me and of course all sole proprietors like me) for last. If you have been bargaining on that refund cause you overpaid on tax you won’t receive one cent if you don’ submit that return.
I hope you found this blog informative! Remember if you have any concerns or specific queries please do contact your registered tax practitioner with your questions. Make sure you are informed. Everything isn’t as black and white as it seems. With SARS in any case!
The importance of being consistent
To be able to be a top-notch Virtual Assistant, is it extremely important to make sure that you understand that keeping your clients happy and building loyalty takes time. To build this trust you need to build a foundation for a sound working relationship and you need to deliver a consistently high standard of work on an ongoing basis. As a Virtual Assistant, you need to remember that your client’s confidence in you and VA Connect will only increase if you continue to deliver a high standard of work within the deadlines provided to you by your client.
The road is never smooth and naturally, there will be obstacles that need to be overcome. Your clients will understand and they will forgive an occasional mistake, provided the issue is handled quickly and in a professional manner. Clients need to be confident that you will deliver on your deadlines every time, rather than only when it may be convenient for you.
When it comes to flying the VA Connect flag high, there are a few points you need to remember. One spends a considerable amount of time at work and building healthy positive relationships with your clients through consistently high-quality work helps retain your clients and makes for a happy day at work. Bear in mind that all the work that you do for VA Connect ultimately reflects on the VA Connect brand.
If a chink in the armour develops it is up to you to make sure that the issue is resolved timeously. As a Virtual Assistant, it is imperative that your client’s bad experiences are kept to an absolute minimum, even when your service is not necessarily at its highest level. One needs to remember that your client’s journey with VA Connect begins with many promises and expectations. It is up to the Virtual Assistant to deliver on these promises. Your work ethic and quality of work can make or break your client’s expectations. To put this into perspective, a client will tell people about the great service that they have received from VA Connect, however, they will tell even more people about the bad experience that they had with the service.
As the business world takes on a different working environment, clients have a much larger voice than they did in the past and are therefore a lot more demanding and pay more attention to detail. You simply cannot allow any part of the client experience to be jeopardised, as this will ultimately affect the VA brand as a whole. The only way to ensure ongoing success is to pay attention to detail and to provide an impeccable service on an ongoing basis. All virtual assistants need to make sure that they remain focused on the task at hand and strive to consistently achieve and surpass the high standards and deadlines provided by their clients.
By setting consistent goals you ensure your long term success and in turn manage your client’s expectations.