5 Top Tips for All Your No-Fuss Black Friday Shopping
It’s already November, and the ads for the annual Black Friday 2019 specials are displayed everywhere! This day in the annual calendar marks spending of epic proportions and usually kicks off the holiday shopping season even in South Africa. Never one for shopping in malls or overcrowded shops, I’ve always favoured online shopping with delivery. It’s convenient, I’m not frustrated by long queues or afraid that my toddler might get lost, abducted or throw a tantrum for some toy or chocolate that is displayed right by the checkout line. I don’t have to drive so there’s no fight for parking close to the mall entrance or the constant buckling up of children when they must get in and out of their safety seats. Any mom would second me here that it’s a skill and a task best left to days when you are on vacation, relaxed and have absolutely no schedule or deadlines to keep in mind.
Shopping Online is an Acquired Skill
Despite all the benefits online shopping offers South Africans still prefer malls for their biggest shopping spends. I believe it’s because they are still a bit scared of being defrauded when shopping online. A type of fear of the ‘virtual unknown’. So, I decided to shed some light on this topic so that my virtual assistant colleagues who are planning to fill up on their technology during Black Friday can navigate any possible pitfalls successfully. Not to mention my clients shopping for their year-end gifts!
My Top 5 Check Points for Making Sure You Get the Best Deals:
Plan Your Purchases
I probably don’t need to say any more… or do I? You will be surprised how easy it is to overspend when the 60% discount banner is flashing in front of every website and online shop you open. That’s why it’s essential to determine upfront what you are looking for and how much you are willing to spend on the day’s purchases. Especially if your thinking of purchasing expensive items like electronics.
The most important piece of advice when it comes to online shopping? Makes sure to buy only from reputable shops. Ask for recommendations from friends and family and choose well-known brands until you can identify new reputable online retailers for yourself. Avoid the stampedes by registering a profile on your online shop of choice. Try to do this at least a week before the actual day. The reason is that you still need time to search and compare similar products. Not all retailers offer the same discount and it makes no sense to buy the first discounted product you see just to realize afterwards you could have saved an extra R1,000 on that same product.
Make a Wish List
Use the retailer’s online option to put certain items in your checkout basket or if they offer the functionality, create a wish list to store your favourite items in during your week of research. Now remember many retailers only display their discounted merchandise at 12 am when the online shops open so you may not know which of your favourite products are on sale. What I did last year when I wanted to buy some of my favourite expensive sandals was to choose which ones I liked beforehand and I stored them in my checkout basket.
Set the Clock for Eleven Thirty pm
At this point it would be noteworthy to tell you that my husband just raised his eyebrows at me when I told him I would be getting up at 11h30 that night to finalize my purchases. Well needless to say, never has a man under-estimated the powerful attraction of shoes on sale more than at that moment. When my alarm went off, I ran to the kitchen for a strong cup of coffee and by the time the online shops went live at midnight I simply opened my basket to see which of my favourites were on special and which weren’t. The shoes that were still full price were deleted within seconds and my checkout and payment completed within the next 5 min.
Use Comparison Tools
At this point I want to impose a few words of wisdom on those of you not yet comfortable with online shopping. Just because someone flashes an ‘ON SALE’ or ‘MASSIVE DISCOUNT’ sign at you doesn’t mean the item is really a great deal. You need to shop around, know your prices – the normal prices and compare these with the ‘promotional’ price. So, if you’re not a seasoned online shopper, compare prices first. If it’s not a great deal – then don’t buy it! The numbers never lie, and you can eliminate any emotional spending before it rears its head.
Bringing it Together
There are really some amazing deals to be had every year, but the secret is to be a smart shopper. You can use Black Friday deals to purchase your family’s Christmas gifts, your holiday reading list or technology and electronics for your business. What you buy is up to you, but hopefully the ‘how to do it effectively’ is less daunting after reading today’s blog. Happy shopping everyone!
How Women in Power are Changing the World
Public holiday, who cares? We can rest….. But every single woman in South Africa needs to care. We need to understand why this is such an important month in the history of our country. Women’s Month in August is a tribute to the more than 20 000 women who marched to the Union Buildings on 9 August 1956 in protest against the extension of Pass Laws to women. The Government of South Africa declared August as women’s month and 9 August is celebrated annually as Women’s Day. Women were somewhat regarded as inferior to their male counterparts then. Fast forward 63 years, and women are seen as equal and paid and treated as such.
Women in power in South Africa making a change
Growing up I always imagined being someone that can make a real change, not only to my immediate family but also to people around me. Especially during August I have seen articles about women doing just that. It all started with a heart, to be understanding and empathetic towards others. And let`s face it, women are good at seeing the need of others. Salute ladies, and let us go on this journey of getting to know my top four inspirational women:
Saray is an award-winning mountaineer, a Mandela libraries ambassador, a social entrepreneur, a mother of two boys and also an executive for one of the distinguished financial institutions in South Africa. Over time she has demonstrated her commitment to making a difference in her environment through mountaineering. Through her climbing with a purpose initiative, Saray has organized and been part of the following initiatives:
- Climbing Kilimanjaro with a purpose (self-funded climb) which built an outdoor gym for Kids Havenworth R200,000 and also converted a room into a library.
- Climbing Everest in 2014 raised funds forThe Lunch Box Fund to feed over 60,000 children.
- Climbing Everst in 2015 raised funds for The Mandela Library Projects and built a library for Isiziba Primary School in Thembisa, Johannesburg.
- Climbing Everest in 2018 raised funds of over R800,000for The Mandela Library Projects and built four libraries across South Africa. She continues to campaign for more libraries as she takes steps towards the seven highest peaks on the seven continents around the world.
# Caster Semenya, standing up for human rights.
Wikipedia describes Mokgadi Caster Semenya as follow: “OIB (born 7 January 1991) is a South African middle-distance runner and 2016 Olympic gold medalist. She won gold in the women’s 800 meters at the 2009 World Championships with a time of 1:55.45 and at the 2017 World Championships in her new personal best, 1:55.16. She also won the silver medal at the 2011 World Championships in the 800 meters. She was the winner of the gold medal in the 800 meter events at the 2012 Summer Olympics and 2016 Summer Olympics.
Following her victory at the 2009 World Championships, it was announced that she had been subjected to sex testing. She was withdrawn from international competition until 6 July 2010 when the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) cleared her to return to competition. In 2010, the British magazine New Statesman included her in a list of “50 People That Matter 2010”.”
Semenya is not allowed to participate in this year’s World Championships in Doha, as her testosterone levels need to be reduced as ruled by the IAAF. Luckily the South African Cabinet fully supports Semenya as she appeals and fights for her fundamental human rights. Like all other athletes, she is entitled to compete without being obliged to alter her body by any medical means. And following Semenya`s very public career over the last nine years, I am sure she will still be fighting for many years to come.
# Tracey Chambers and Tracey Gillmore, educating and clothing the underprivileged
These two women realized they can make a difference in the lives of women, and people in general, by letting their empathy grow into a business. They started the ClothingBank of South Africa, by clothing and educating people. In their own words: “We believe that becoming a self-employed business owner is something everyone can do, irrespective of their education levels and resources, as long as they are self-motivated and well supported (mentally and emotionally). We have developed a holistic eco-system, which successfully engages families living in poverty to chart a path out of poverty. Our projects have been changing lives for the last eight years.” Visit their website for more information: https://theclothingbank.org.za/
How can I make a difference
Following these wonderful women did make me feel unmotivated for a second, before I was left amazed. I wanted to be them, and here I am 37 years old, not summiting mountains, un-athletic and unentrepreneurial. I voiced this to my friend and very small business partner (who is really unprivileged, sleeping on someone’s kitchen floor, cleaning houses for a living). She said that you should never think something is unimportant to the person next to you. We can always, as women, have an empathetic heart and ear to our sisters. Sometimes, without even realizing it, by listening you can show love and affection. For too many years, sisters in South Africa were not heard, until they gathered, mobilized and moved. And because they did, my heroes are out in the open, voicing their concerns and making changes without needing to stand back.
Secondly, we should remember to never quite. Even if we feel we do not have the capacity or mental ability to do something, just keep going. All of the women mentioned above must have felt deflated and wanting to quite somewhere down the line, but they pushed through and always educated and kept training in their areas of specialities.
In bringing it together I thought it would be best to share this poem by Maya Angelou:
’You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.’
How is that 2019 goal list looking? A 6 month check in with…myself!
What?? It is July already??
Well that was unexpected – seems like just the other day I was getting my kid ready for his first day at big school and now we are 6 and bit months down, 2 terms into school and a talking, almost 2 year old, into 2019!
So I thought it fitting to do somewhat of a check in with myself – have you done something similar?
Now I will admit – this year really has challenged me a fair deal, but in a good way (if there is such a thing) because challenges mean we are learning or have been given an opportunity to learn, take a step back and reassess situations that may not be all that great for us and have the chance to make a change.
One of my big challenges was balance this year – and funny how it was also something that was on my list, my new year’s resolutions if you want. Balance in life and work. Finding more time for me (which still eludes me it would seem) and because of this, I found myself on the brink of mental meltdown.
In this blog, I will share how I plan to get back on the proverbial horse and put me first in order to be there for everyone else who needs me. Because if you do not take care of you, no one will!
How am I going to reach my goal in the last half of 2019?
Now, I had a few things on my list of resolutions, goals that I wanted to achieve for 2019 but one of my main ones was finding balance in my life, family and work. But the main thing I knew I needed to do was put me first!
If I am not at my peak when it comes to health and mental wellbeing, how can I possibly be there for my family? How can I possibly be there for my clients? How can I possibly be there for me?
After my personal hurdle knocking me on my behind for a few days – I decided to sit, take a breather, have a mini digital detox and reassess the situation and how I was going to overcome the madness.
This is what I came up with (these were on my original list):
- ME FIRST – I have to take time for me. Whether that be a morning out on my own for breakfast or meeting with a friend or my mom or sister for a coffee then so be it. Perhaps even just having a bit of time to pamper at home is what I will do – set aside an hour or so to do nails, have a spa bath or get a foot massage.
- BE MORE PRESENT – Being a working mom, working at home and still trying to be present with the boys can be challenging, especially when deadlines and tasks are at the forefront of my mind most of the time. But I have noticed remarkable changes in my kid’s behaviour when I spend, even 10 minutes, of time just with them, fully present and participating in whatever silly little game they want to play. So I know that I have sort of checked this one off the list – but will continue to have this on all lists going forward.
- EAT BETTER – Seems like something that should be easily done – but this is possibly the one goal that has eluded me the most. Convenience is king and most times that results in take-outs and snacks and so on. But after re-looking my list and realizing that I definitely need to make the change – I am prepping meals and making sure that not only my kids are well fed and eating their veggies but that mommy is too … after all, we lead by example.
- GET QUALITY SLEEP – I have also had serious trouble with getting more than 4 hours of sleep in every night and something that I am trying to get around.
And this brings me to – how this relates to me as a VA….
All these things make for a better me, and a better more balanced home life and therefore a more quiet and focused brain when it comes to working and providing clients with the best and more.
I would say that this would be the same for anyone whether working from home or at an office, freeing your mind of the clutter and madness and having balance can definitely help you achieve your goals. It can make a serious difference when it comes to completing tasks and learning new things and taking on more challenges with a positive outlook.
I have complete faith that all of the above – as well as a few extra things – will be achieved before midnight chimes at the end of 2019!
How far have you come this year? Did you reach any or all of your goals?
Happy half year and let’s end it with a bang!
Why Successful Entrepreneurs Choose Extra Help in Their Business
Nowadays, business owners are looking for supportive solutions for generating more profits. Entrepreneurs, who succeed in their business, perform two things very well:
- They proceed with business objectives strategically.
- They make utilization of the resources available and remain positive with the outcome.
As your business starts to grow, your workload starts increasing and at the end of the day, you think:
“How can I manage this pressure all on my own?”
If you analyse this situation well, you would understand that you need an alternative to hiring a full-time employee. So, what is the best option for you?
Seek help from a virtual assistant and achieve more than your expectations.
Wondering who are Virtual Assistants?
In the simplest sense of the term, virtual assistants are self-employed experts, who work for clients from a remote location. With specific skills sets, they can serve multiple clients and work on different projects. They work according to the specifications provided by the client and offer a wide range of affordable services. With their top-notch assistance, you’ll get things done easily and within the deadline.
So, Why Successful Entrepreneurs Choose Extra Help in Their Business?
VA’s push Business Growth:
You cannot work on all the tasks yourself. Having an “EXTRA HAND” on projects is essential to your business growth. COLLABORATION is a powerful tool that will take your business to the next level. Your business can flourish with strategic partnerships and shared interests.
Decreased Operational Costs:
By having a VA, you save expenses for office space, maintenance cost and additional expenses.
As a business owner, your important tasks can often get overshadowed due to your jam-packed schedule. In such circumstances, VA’s might come handy, as they can focus on several crucial tasks. VA’s can decrease your work-related stress, and help you keep everything organized. They make sure that these tasks get completed within the stipulated time frame.
Focus on The Core Operations:
As an entrepreneur, you need more time to focus on your core business functions. On the other hand, not everything requires your direct attention. You can manage it all by simply asking your VA to take care of your routine tasks. They would provide personal as well as administrative support, providing you with more time to focus on the most crucial aspects.
“Every successful entrepreneur knows that his or her achievement depends on a community of persons working together”– Paul Ryan
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