Onboarding a new client is always a very exciting experience for any virtual assistant. However, sometimes, a few weeks down the line one or both parties may feel disillusioned and frustrated with the business relationship. I’ve especially found this to be true when either the VA or the client is still new to the virtual assistance industry or when both are. Here are a few pointers to help VA’s (and clients) avoid the pitfalls of unnecessary frustration.
My clients and colleagues will all tell you the same thing about me. I ask questions… a lot! I don’t just accept the status quo of anything, just because someone said so… It might work on your nerves (I know), you will, however, thank me later! Why do I ask so many questions?
The answer is simple, with more information comes informed decision-making.
Whether an athlete plans to run a marathon or a 100m race, one thing remains the same. The planning, preparation and training take up way more time than the actual event. Similarly, we should remember that a lot more goes on before we get to the actual execution of the tasks at hand.
A lot of the time I find clients want to skimp on this part. Make sure as a VA that you help them understand the value of first gaining insight into their business and current structures and procedures while gathering all the information you need to start planning the next step.
“Failing to plan, is planning to fail.”
This step can’t be stressed enough! Plan your day, plan your week, plan your month! Yes, anything or everything might change, depending on the type of industry. But…without planning, you will not have realistic goals, this will limit your feeling of achievement as a VA and will give the client a false impression that you’re not making the progress they had in mind. It may also lead them to inevitably believe that a virtual assistant is not a valuable contribution to their business. Planning means goals and goals means you can measure results. Let the results speak for you.
Your client may not understand your need for planning, so I suggest you ease them into it. Start with something simple like an email or message (using whichever means of communication your client prefers) every day at the start of your session with the client to just let them know 2-3 things you will be focusing on for the day (it obviously depends on the complexity of the tasks or projects). Also, give them an estimate of the time it will take you to accomplish your goal. At the end of the day give short, to the point feedback.
Vital to every successful business relationship is communication. So why do we often tend to neglect such an extremely important tool for success in the hustle and bustle of our day?
If you find yourself explaining or re-explaining yourself or a task or project’s progress to your client more often than not, it definitely demonstrates a communication gap. This means your client feels their expectations aren’t met, and you might end up feeling the client doesn’t value your service.
The key here is effective communication. Make sure your client understands the process and time each task or project might take and if you run into any delays, which often happens, communicate this with your clients, so they get an understanding of what it takes to get the job done, right- the first time.
It’s not rocket science
Only rocket science is rocket science. You’ll find your groove before you know it. We just need to remember that we all started as newbies in the industry some time, so, a little patience and coaching will go a long way towards building a lasting business relationship.
We all experience emotions from an early age. As adults attempting to navigate the often chaotic world of modern life, the range of emotions we experience in a day can change dramatically.
Our ability to feel and respond to our emotions is often taken for granted. We rarely stop to think and pay close attention to what we’re feeling. We do not consider the impact it has on our mental state, or the long-term implications that holding onto emotions has, that might be harmful to us.
Until you become fully aware of your inner experiences, emotions will rule. Emotions are highly conditioned, meaning that they are automatic reactions that arise in you in response to things that happen. A memory comes to mind? You don’t need to make yourself feel sad, you just do, and your whole day may be affected.
Feelings begin with either internal or external events and follow a cycle which eventually leads to an action urge. By understanding the feelings model below, you will be able to apply mindfulness to cope with emotions as they arise in response to events.
- Action Urge
- Action Results
Identifying & naming emotions
An important part of emotional regulation is the skill of identifying and naming your emotions. This helps you to access a wise mind by quieting your body and mind to prevent being caught up in an emotional mind.
7 Primary Emotions
Your other emotions either fall under one of these broad categories or are made up of a combination of the above. Sometimes we experience secondary emotions, these are an emotional reaction to a primary emotion. The key here is to figure out what the root or primary emotion is so that you can take action.
Emotions are neither good nor bad, right or wrong
Feelings just ARE. You do not choose to feel what you feel.
Emotions do not last forever
What you are feeling at any given moment will eventually lift and another emotion will take its place.
Feeling and emotions versus acting
There’s a difference between having an emotion and acting on an emotion.
When a strong emotion is experienced, you do not have to act on the feeling
All you need to be able to do is recognise/name the emotion and feel it.
Emotions are not facts
Emotions can be very powerful and the person experiencing it may feel that it’s undeniably true, but emotions remain subjective.
You cannot get rid of emotions
Emotions can only be felt and thought about. You must be willing to radically accept your emotions as they arise, without judgement, and finding appropriate ways of handling these feeling without turning to impulsive behaviour.
Emotions are the best way to tell you what you are thinking
If you are feeling sad, anxious or angry, you are thinking sad, anxious or angry thoughts.
When emotions arise, it may be helpful to see the emotion as a wave coming and going.
“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.
What Makes Women Better Virtual Assistants?
I am woman, hear me roar! It is Women’s Month in South Africa and we are celebrating all women in all shapes and forms and saying – YES! You are strong. You are capable. You are loved. You are part of a tribe that cannot be broken.
The date, 9 August is the day we celebrate Women’s Day here in South Africa, and it is not to be confused with the International Women’s Day which takes place globally in March. This date, 9 August, is significant to us as a nation due to the fact that a plethora of women, regardless of age and race, stood together and marched to the Union Buildings declaring the need for the abolishment of passes which women needed to have to move around freely – I mean really now – how was this even a thing at all??
But anyway, due that movement and the amazing women who stood together then – and for those who stand together today and shall stand together (hopefully) going forward, women have being liberated and are free to go wherever they want. Do whatever they want (within reason of course …..hehehe). Our daughters can choose to be ballerinas or they can choose to be astronauts or rally car drivers. The sky is the limit!
So – what does this have to do with women being better virtual assistants? Well isn’t it obvious??
Let’s break it down….
MEN ARE GREAT, BUT WE ARE BETTER
Okay, so I adore my husband to no end, and men in general are pretty great to have around, right? So I am not saying they are not up to the challenge of being a Virtual Assistant – not at all – but the likelihood is that a women will always be better at this particular job than a man.
Well simply put, women are fierce and can take on anything that comes their way. We are daughters, wives, mothers, sisters, friends and, in this instance, virtual assistants – that is a whole lot of hats to wear – and we wear them all almost every day.
The ability to wear those hats and juggle, what seems like, a million and one things daily is the art of MULTITASKING. Now I do not know about you, but in my house “male” does not equate to “multitasker”. I can pretty much be reading an email, putting food on the stove, preparing some juice for the kids and possibly even be filling the sink to do dishes – all at the same time – and not miss a beat. Hubby cannot even talk and do the dishes at the same time (bless his socks!)
As a virtual assistant, multitasking comes with the territory a lot of the time. So that is reason number 1.
How about TIME MANAGEMENT? Yep, you guessed it, again women are generally better at this too. (I say generally because it is not always the case, but it is more probable for a women to have better time management skills than men.)
Being on time is not always a thing for men but women tend to always have schedules and routines and although this can maybe cause a bit of stress, the end result of being organized and focused and things falling into place because of it will be worth it.
Time management is an important, in fact incredibly important skill to have when working as a virtual assistant.
Now scientists also did studies on what differentiates men and women (besides the obvious!) and came up with things like a women’s ability to recall things better, better memory. A woman can recall if things have changed or being moved in certain spaces they frequent as they tend to use landmarks a lot in every day life. Men are generally more about the route to the goal and how to get there and whatever is along the way kind of falls by the wayside (eg women shopping vs men shopping)
They also discovered that females tend to work with and recall numbers and lists better than a male would and things like putting pegs into a peg board was more meticulously done by females.
This brings me to the last, but certainly not least, skill that a woman has, giving her an advantage in the VA world – ATTENTION TO DETAIL.
Attention to detail is key when you work as a virtual assistant because most times you would have more than one client, more than one task on the go and missing details could be to the detriment of the client, and ultimately you too.
Being able to analyse and figure out things, looking for and scanning the finer details, these are things that women do better and that is probably also due to the PATIENCE LEVEL of a woman, versus a man.
I think it is also important to note that PASSION is another element that plays an important role in being a virtual assistant – not to say men do not have passion, but for a woman working as a VA is usually a choice made so that she can stay home with the kids and therefore having a passion for what she does means that she will do it well and be able to continue her journey and therefore also set a fantastic example for her kids – using her passion for them and for the work that she does.
Wow, that is a whole lot of words right there about how amazing women are – so I think it is only fair to also mention here at the end that MEN are pretty darn special too and hopefully most of us ladies that work from home and are trying to win at this remote lifestyle have an incredible dude standing beside us egging us on. Someone to lean on at the end of a treacherous day of technical failures or failures of other kinds – providing a good shoulder rub and topping up the wine glass!
Again I will end by saying – I am woman, hear me roar! Go out and have a stupendous Women’s Month – hey make it Women’s 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!