My Journey with VA Connect by Melissa Nicholson
“Some people don’t change only a direction in our life; they change everything in our life.” – Christelle Salameh
I started my Virtual Assistant journey in 2014, a journey that is very scary and extremely difficult at times to take on your own. A VA entrepreneurial journey is simply not possible alone without the help of mentors and people who have been there and done that previously. Having an idea on your own is great, but a mentor can identify and see areas in you where improvements are necessary for your own personal growth.
In January 2017 I partnered with VA Connect, not knowing how this partnership would change me as a person and also affect my entrepreneurial path. Working alongside the co-founders and serial entrepreneurs, Karen Wessels and Albert van Zyl has changed and impacted my journey profoundly. Not only have I learnt and watched how they nurture and take care of their clients, but how they have made it their life’s journey to not only positively impact everyone they come into contact with, but how they strive to motivate and uplift every single person around them.
We live in a world where people are put down and broken down according to their net worth, education or their abilities and it is very seldom that you come into contact with people who stop and listen to what you have to say and diligently seek to reach down deep and pull out from the core of your being what your strengths are and encourage you on a daily basis to be all that you were meant to be, weaknesses and all!!! That is who Karen and Albert are, and the basis on what VA Connect is built on, uplifting, entrepreneurship, assisting clients to the absolute best of our ability and harnessing a person’s skills until you become the absolute best you can be.
I distinctly will never forget a VA Connect team meeting we recently had in August, Women’s month, where the sole focus of the meeting was to get every single one of us out of our comfort zones and reflect on who we are as people and how to do everything we can to be the best we can be. There is nothing more uplifting in this world than hearing that as a person, you are valuable, you matter and that you can be anything you desire to be. It’s just not something that happens often enough.
I have seen and learnt so much in the last 7 months, that I as a person no longer question my abilities and what I am capable of. I am much more confident in my work on a daily basis and absolutely believe that I can be everything that I was created to be. Thanks to VA Connect, the word “can’t” no longer exists in my vocabulary.
I believe in life certain people cross your path for a reason and I am truly thankful that mine has crossed Albert and Karen’s otherwise I would not be where I am this day. I encourage every Virtual Assistant to identify mentors like this in your VA career path who will help you to do the same.
Things that have helped me make my life easier and more productive as a Virtual Assistant by Melinda Pennells
In my previous blog I discussed my journey as a Virtual Assistant. This month I want to discuss how to make your life easier and how to be more productive when working from home. As I said previously it was really daunting at first, I knew that I would have to “sort my life out” in order to be able to handle whatever was thrown my way and in turn make it a success.
I thought long and hard about what I could do, I am already by nature very “OCD”, I thrive on structure and being organised. When I feel organised I know things will get done, that is why I knew I had to bring my “OCD” into my Virtual Assistant position.
Here are some things that helped me and hopefully could help you too:
My work day rules
We have the luxury of sleeping in a little when all our friends are stuck in traffic but make sure you start work the same time every day. It is also important to set your hours of work same as if you had a desk job, if you would leave the office at 5pm then do the same when working from home.
Set up your office space so that everything you need is at hand, and make it beautiful, it really does help if your surroundings make you happy.
Take breaks, take the dogs for a quick walk, sit outside in the sun for 5 minutes. It is so unhealthy to work straight through the day, no matter who you are or what you do.
Organise, Organise, Organise!!
In this environment, it is so important to be organised and know what you want to do during your work day, it’s way too easy to get ahead of yourself and have everything crumble around you. Make lists if necessary, nothing fancy just jot it down on a piece of paper (preferably in a note book as little pieces of paper always go missing) and try your best to stick to it. Obviously, you will have days that “don’t go your way” but there is always tomorrow. And by having your list it won’t fall through the cracks because chances are you’ll forget to do it.
Communication is Key
When you are sitting alone at home working it is so easy to go into your own little bubble. So, it is vital to communicate and to do so often. If you don’t understand something that you have to do, ask the necessary questions. Some might think it’s best to keep quiet but that is definitely not an option when working like this, or in that matter any work environment. If you communicate everyone will be on the same level and you will understand what is expected of you, this makes your life easier and you will naturally be more productive. An added bonus is your work will be immaculate and your clients will love the work you are giving them.
The most important thing when working from home is making everything around you benefit you and make you happy and comfortable. If you are happy and organised you will automatically be more productive and life will be easier.
These things have really helped me on my Virtual Assistant journey and I really hope they will help you too.
How to Optimise Your Virtual Assistant Business This Spring
Spring has arrived and as we know this is traditionally the time for spring cleaning. Out with the old, in with the new, a good scrub and clean and we then have a fresh start to a new season. We get rid of all the junk that we never get to, clean in all those hard to reach spaces, repack the cupboards, we rearrange the furniture and so on. This should also apply to our Virtual Assistant business. We get so busy working on projects and daily tasks and the clutter tends to build up so quickly if we are not careful and systematic in where we store files and documents. That paperwork that keeps piling up, those little notes stuck here and there, and yes, also those computer sticky notes. Things can also get untidy when working on several different tasks at a time and often with more than one client at a time.
Now is the time to take stock. Schedule a time to clean up your desk, your computer and your home office. This will freshen and brighten up your Virtual Assistant business, make you feel more professional, organised and could be your springboard into the coming months.
Here are a few simple things you can do which can make a world of difference:
1) Take a Snap Shot
When last did you change your profile photo? This can so easily be done with your smart phone and look very professional. Keep it updated so that if you do meet your client face to face or on a Skype meeting that they recognise you because you “match” your photo. Go to all your social media sites and update your profile which really shouldn’t take long to do at all.
2) Up-skill Yourself
Have you taken any courses over the last few months or learnt a new skill? Go and add them to your LinkedIn profile. Regularly up-skilling oneself is a very appealing quality to potential clients as it shows drive, ambition and a keenness on your part to take on new challenges.
3) Clean up your computer inside and out
Do you know that your computer is contaminated with more germs than your toilet? That is gross isn’t it? Not a pleasant thought, but nevertheless true. Find out from your computer dealer what is recommended to clean your computer and give it some well deserved TLC.
Get rid of the clutter in your inbox. This is a sore point for me. Ever had that sinking feeling of inbox overwhelm? You’ve just got too many emails and not enough time? There are some of those emails and newsletter that you just never get to but just keep on piling up. You are most likely never going to get to them and instead of having to constantly be deleting them, just be done, stop wasting time and click UNSUBSCRIBE. Yes you can! It’s not against the law and you are not going to hurt someone’s feelings. Guaranteed they do it too. Sometimes you are going to have to say no thanks. Relevant emails, deal with and place in a specified folder. If a particular email is in a thread, keep the latest and delete the rest. Ultimately, work out what system works the best and most effectively for you and stick to it. That way you will avoid confusion and overwhelm in those times when the pressure is on.
4) Clear and Clean Your Desk
This can really make you feel great. Get everything off of your desk and give it a good clean and polish. Now you can start over by placing everything where you like them and perhaps add a new plant or desk organiser that catches your eye. Get some new stationery. Clean out those drawers and throw out that old stapler if it keeps on getting jammed. You spend many hours at that desk, so spoil and indulge yourself a little. You deserve it too.
5) The Freedom of a Mobile Office
Spring brings warmer weather, so why not take your office outside or perhaps visit that very enticing looking new coffee shop up the road? You don’t have to be stuck working in one place all of the time. Remember, variety is the spice of life.
What can my website be used for?
Websites – What are they?
According to Google “a set of related web pages located under a single domain name”
According to Wikipedia “A website, or simply site, is a collection of related web pages, including multimedia content, typically identified with a common domain name, and published on at least one web server.”
For a business a website is an online storefront, “online presence“, that is shown to potential customers, that can offer information about the business, what it does, the services provided, generate “leads”, create credibility and create awareness for potential customers.
However, some businesses, although they have an “online presence“, do not utilize this presence correctly. In business, everything you do should generate revenue, directly or indirectly.
So how can we make your website generate revenue, directly or indirectly? There are 2 simple ways, either through an information based website or a sales page also known as a “landing page”.
Is the address where your website lives on. So in essence, users will go to your domain, e.g. www.vaconnect.co.za and they will find information about your company.
Domains are usually bought with hosting, from companies like afrihost and godaddy.
An information based website is a website that has the following characteristics:
- Interactivity does not exist. There is only one-way communication
- Information about products and/or services
- Needs interaction from representative of the company before a sale can be completed
The best platform to use is WordPress. WordPress is used by 20% of all websites and is the most user friendly platform compared to it competitors, such as Joomla and Drupal.
Sales Website “Landing Page”
A sales based website generates sales with minimum interaction, and that has the following characteristics:
- One product page
- Shopping Cart
- Social Credibility
- Operate without you, automated process
- Single focus
- Specific purpose / Call to Action
The best platforms to use are:
- Click funnels
- Active Trail
- Get Response
The website types mentioned above can be integrated with email software that can generate a subscriber list of potential customers, which you can then create email newsletters every month to send out to these prospects.
HOW CAN I BE OF SERVICE TO YOU?
Since my blog written earlier this month, I have been thinking long and hard about the various services I can provide to my Client’s as a Virtual Assistant.
In other words, WHAT is a Virtual Assistant, WHAT are the benefits of having a Virtual Assistant and HOW can I be of service to YOU?
Let’s kick off with WHAT a Virtual Assistant is?
Most Virtual Assistants are contract or freelance workers who do their jobs from home and focus on administrative tasks that are similar to those of an executive assistant, personal assistant or secretary.
A Virtual Assistants “job” is to assist a business / individual with various tasks, whilst offering an impeccable service to their Clients.
As a business owner, one cannot always afford to take on a full-time / permanent employee. An effective way of getting “help” when you need it is to acquire the services of a Virtual Assistant.
WHAT are the BENEFITS of having a Virtual Assistant
- With a Virtual Assistant you will only pay for time / hour’s worked on YOUR project and work can be done outside of normal business hours.
- A Virtual Assistants hours / time spent at work is flexible. They work around your schedule. They are your “on-call” go to person.
- Virtual Assistants can get the job done while you are taking care of other important matters.
- They fill a temporary need for a business, YOUR business, for those special projects that may require additional staff or time to be worked.
- Virtual Assistants provide their own space, supplies and office equipment.
- Virtual Assistants strive to provide quality service, since their reputation and success depends on how they please their Client base. At times, these assistants may perform at a higher level than your own full-time / permanent employees do.
- As a business you will not need to spend additional money on upskilling your employee, as a Virtual Assistant comes to you with ALL the necessary skills to get the job done!
Some of the key tasks that can be undertaken by a Virtual Assistant:
- Typing of Letters / Emails / Reports and General Correspondence
- Email Management / Filtering
- Creating / Updating and Maintaining of Databases
- Data Mining / Online Research
- Booking Appointments
- Obtaining Quotations / Doing Comparative Tables
- Following up with Clients / Customers
- Calendar Management
- File Management (Organizing files using Dropbox etc)
- Database Building (eg. updating email or contact lists)
- Research on certain topics for blogposts, newsletters or others
- Hotel and Flight Booking
- Transcription (transcribing voicemail, video or audio, podcasts etc.)
- Creating basic reports (reports on weekly tasks, deliverables, sales)
- Preparing Slideshows (Powerpoint Presentations)
- Liaison between you and other team members
- Set-up Social Media Accounts (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube)
- Manage and update Social Media Accounts
- Manage your Blog (Basic WordPress Skills)
- Publish posts on your Blog (content you provided)
- Filter and reply to comments on your blog
- Answering support tickets (with the use of Zendesk)
The above are to name but a few key tasks we can assist you with.
So I leave you with this one question, HOW can I be of service to YOU?
Contact us for more information!