What is it like being a VA for 16 yrs

 

I have worked for many clients over the 16 years since I started out in 2001. It has been difficult as well as easy, times where I have had enough and felt like quitting, but also lots of fun. Its been a great learning experience and I have never stopped learning. I have a job I enjoy doing, working from my own home office providing services to clients and also enjoy learning new things as I have gone along.

I knew very little about running my own business, so it was a learning curve from the start. I had the experience to do the work but not the experience in running a business, just like everyone else, who started out as a VA, at the time, I just got on with it. I have learned that being positive brings results, being negative gets you nowhere. I had to change my attitude from being negative to positive and that is when results started to happen and my business took off.

I learned about a VA in Australia called Kathie Thomas and I read up all about Kathie, I knew if she could do it, then I could too. I received my first big client with the help of Kathie. She attended a networking event and met Colin Adno a Migration Agent in Australia. She contacted me and asked me to join her network and she gave Colin my contact details. I worked for many years for Colin after that.

After a few years I met Gaynor Paynter and we decided to set up Tavasa (The Transcription and Virtual Assistants of South Africa). We have both written Ebooks that assist VAs in Virtual Assisting and Transcription.

I have had an assortment of typing over the years – from books, reports, to old Church Documents. I have typed up business presentation, creating pictures from client drawings, charts, graphs, flow diagrams. I once typed an enormous flow diagram which went over many sheets of A3 paper to create a flow diagram in a project. There is very little I have not typed or attempted to type.

Have I ever been lonely? no, we have great tools such as Skype, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp etc. to keep in contact with people and we also have email. Even in the early days of dial up, we had MSN Messenger. There is always a way to get in contact with others and therefore being lonely just doesn’t happen.

Client send me work through Fax, Email, Dropbox, WhatsApp, Courier and even come and deliver the work themselves. There is always a way to get the work to us.

I have had great clients and not so great clients. I’ve had clients who are easy to deal with and clients who are very difficult to deal with. The best clients seem to be guys (from observation), I often find with women is they don’t want to treat you as their equal but they want to put themselves onto a pedestal and treat you like a secretary or assistant – any position that puts you lower than their own position, as that is the mentality they know. We as VAs can overcome all challenges with our clients as we learn from our experiences as we go along.

I can work on my own, I am not afraid to approach clients and offer advice or my thoughts on how something should be done. I will speak out to a client when I know a deadline is unreachable and I will explain why and then let the client know a more realistic time line. I know my limits and know what I can and cannot do on a daily basis, I know what is achievable. I have tried to educated many clients about our Industry and about the work we do.

I love the benefits of working in my own office. My hours are my own. I choose who I want to work with and I choose the type of work I want to do. It was not always like this. At one time I did whatever work came my way, we have to, as we have to start out and get to know what we are doing and learn the job as we go. I have put in the hours required and learned that we cannot keep it up, we have to, in the end, work normal hours, if we keep going, we end up exhausted and unable to cope. It is best to organise our work days as if we are working in the corporate world, having start/end times with appropriate breaks in between.

I have done marketing through the history of my business. Back in 2001, advertising on the Internet was for free. I have always done marketing daily for my business, so my details are well and truly out there around the world. Marketing is something I believe we must do, even if we are hectic/very busy with clients. We must still find time to market as you never know when you may lose clients and have to find new clients (to replace them), so it is always good to keep marketing. It also shows you are active and your business is still going strong. There is always something new to learn with marketing to keep with marketing trends. When I started out with marketing there wasn’t Facebook or WhatsApp around and therefore I had to keep marketing on the Internet and in any way I could. Other the years Facebook came out and then WhatsApp and I started marketing on both as well as other social media.

My main advertising is via my website, I have never let it sit there, and I have always updated it regularly (weekly and daily at times). It is out there and has always brought in results. I track where my website reaches by using a plugin on my website and it gets seen all the way around the world, some Countries my website has been visited from is Poland, Russia and Canada. It is my main advertising tool and like TV adverts which change all the time, my website must be kept up with the times and changed also. A website should always be updated and kept fresh and with the times. http://www.amftyping.co.za.

I have leant a lot during my years as a Virtual Assistant and I like nothing better than sharing my information with other Virtual Assistant, if only one piece of info helps one Virtual Assistant then I have done my job in sharing my knowledge and skills.

I have decided to put my knowledge into a series of 40+ articles to share with Virtual Assistants. I will give some good tips and advice along the way and if I am able to assist you in maybe some problem you have or in something you would like to know by giving you real time examples, of what I have done in various situations and times then that would be great. I hope you sign up to receive my articles and I would appreciate any feedback you would like to give and I would appreciate that if you enjoy an article, you share it on your social media platforms, so that other VAs may benefit from the articles.

Written by Alison Fourie of AMF Typing Services, 23 November 2017.

 

“I run my own race: I am in competition with no one. I have no desire to play the game of being better than anyone, in any way, shape or form, I just aim to improve, to be better than I was before…”

 

 

#amftyping #amftypingservices #VA #virtualassistant #VAtip #Entrepreneur #SmallBiz #SmallBusiness #business #work

 

 

 

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Topics:

  1. Internet
  2. Learning on the job, never stop learning, learning something new all the time
  3. Updates, backup etc
  4. Different versions of Office products affecting Formatting of Documents
  5. Starting up your VA business (steps)
  6. Learning Transcription, Transcribing and Sub-Contractors
  7. Fees and Invoices how/structure
  8. Business Plan steps
  9. Working hours, scheduling your day
  10. Communication
  11. Customer Services
  12. Clients, Availability, Equal, Trust and Responsibility
  13. Being Assertive
  14. Providing a Service to Clients
  15. When to say Yes and No to Clients
  16. How to respond to Unpleasant Clients
  17. What is the best way to do your Work (Structure and Procedures)
  18. Best Software to use for VAs – Dropbox, Saving on Hard Drives, Computer etc
  19. VA Procedures, how to work
  20. Education – VAs and Clients
  21. Understanding what is asked of you – Listening
  22. How to deal with Clients
  23. Research
  24. Cut Throat Business, pricing some do it for a very low price
  25. Answering the Phone, Email, Social Media etc
  26. Rates versus Quality
  27. Time – how long do jobs take, know your timings
  28. Office Environment is Important
  29. Communicate with other VAs/Peers
  30. Not getting Paid, strict deadlines
  31. Upfront Payment versus after Payments
  32. How to deal with Non-paying Clients
  33. Talking about Rates
  34. Services we can provide
  35. Good Rates versus Bad Rates
  36. Acceptable and Unacceptable VA practices
  37. How to work with Students – PhDs, Masters (Typing, Transcription, Research etc)
  38. Importance of Websites
  39. Education/Books, learning from other VAs, Educating yourself
  40. VA Support / Support Structure around YOU

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If you have a specific topic you would like me to write about, please email me at amftyping@mweb.co.za or WhatsApp me on +27 82 871 3452. I would like to share my experiences and examples (16 years as a VA) with you, to assist you, in your VA business.

 

#amftyping #amftypingservices #VA #virtualassistant #VAtip #Entrepreneur #SmallBiz #SmallBusiness

 

 

Customer Service

I worked for a company for a number of years where providing a quality customer service was part of my job. I am now finding in South Africa, that no matter where you go customer service is dying. Some people are not interested in assisting customers at all, even if it is part of their jobs. It is far more important to stand and chat or to wander around, but helping customers, no way. No the wonder business is going downhill. I have always provided a Quality Customer Service and will continue to do so, but it is very disheartening to see that people just do not care enough about their jobs to provide a service to their customers. It is very sad to see here in our country.

People do not realise that providing a good service is what drives customers to a company. If I receive a bad service, I will never use your company again, why should I, it is my choice to accept a bad service or to be positive and take my business elsewhere. Today, we do not have to put up with bad service from anyone. If a person is having a bad day, that is not the customer’s fault. People should not take their problems to work or take their work problems home, both are separate issues.

When you work in the service industry it is part of your job to provide a quality service to those you serve.

Characteristics of Good Customer Service

Customer service is the act of taking care of the customer’s needs by providing and delivering professional, helpful, high quality service and assistance before, during, and after the customer’s requirements are met. Customer service is meeting the needs and desires of any customer.

Some characteristics of good customer service include:

  • Promptness: Promises for delivery of products must be on time. Delays and cancellations of products should be avoided.
  • Politeness: Politeness is almost a lost art. Saying ‘hello,’ ‘good afternoon,’ ‘sir,’ and ‘thank you very much’ are a part of good customer service. For any business, using good manners is appropriate whether the customer makes a purchase or not.
  • Professionalism: All customers should be treated professionally, which means the use of competence or skill expected of the professional. Professionalism shows the customer they’re cared for.
  • Personalisation: Using the customer’s name is very effective in producing loyalty. Customers like the idea that whom they do business with knows them on a personal level.

Source: http://study.com/academy/lesson/what-is-customer-service-definition-types-role-in-marketing.html

Next time you deal with customers make sure you provide them with a Quality Customer Service Experience.

Happy customers will come back time and again.

 

 

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WhatsApp Communication

Communication with Clients and Sub-Contractors is so important and today, it is made easier by social media technology. Most people have access to Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, WhatsApp etc, so there should be no reason to not keep in contact with people who we work with or for. Most people today have a Cellphone that can be used to keep in contact. If you can stay in contact with family and friends then you can stay in contact with the people you work with. It takes but a few minute to send a WhatsApp message.

Here are some WhatsApp Stats for interest:

Source: http://www.wapp4phone.com/facts/popular-whatsapp-world/

Percentage of WhatsApp users by country:

  • South Africa – 78%
  • Malaysia – 75%
  • Argentina – 74%
  • Singapore – 72%
  • Hong Kong – 71%
  • Spain – 70%
  • India – 69%
  • Mexico – 67%
  • Italy – 62%
  • The Netherlands – 61%
  • Germany – 57%
  • Brazil – 56%
  • Saudi Arabia – 56%
  • Indonesia – 52%
  • Turkey – 49%

Source: http://www.wapp4phone.com/facts/popular-whatsapp-world/

With WhatsApp we can quickly send messages to our clients and vice versa, if we have problems we can let our clients know just straight away. With the use of camera’s now in Cellphones I find is a great help, My clients can quickly send through pieces of text they want to add to their documents or photographs, graphics etc that they need me to add to their content via WhatsApp.

 

Another great tool with WhatsApp is groups. I am the Chairlady of our Complex where we live and we use our WhatsApp group to let everyone know what is happening, nobody can complain they do not know what is going on, as things happen within the complex we immediately put information onto our group to keep everyone posted. Having a WhatsApp family group is a great way to stay in contact with your family at a moments notice.

WhatsApp is one of the greatest forms of communication today in our social media world. There should be no excuse today for not keeping in contact with people. We have communication technology at our fingertips.

 

Written 21 November 2017 by Alison Fourie

 

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Dog Diaries – Dog Personalities Part 2

To continue with Dog Personalities, how well do you know your dog?
Do you know when your dogs call you to go somewhere? (like a recognizable noise), to go outside do they call you and bug you? Do you know when your dogs are hungry?
Well, we certainly know with our dogs and we certainly know they are around all the time. They are always where we are.

Everyday they spend their day in my office as I work, crowding around each side of me. They push each other for the best spot (under the window or at my feet). Scooby comes in first every morning to make sure of her spot (usually under the window – which allows them to look out the window and see the street), she growls at those who want to take her spot if shes already there, or she just pushes in and takes the spot from whoever else is there – which is normally Shaggy and he gracefully gets up and moves for her occassionally. Shaggy lies at my feet, unless the window spot is open. Sometimes he growls at Scrappy when she tries to push in from where he lies under the window to take that spot. Scrappy is everywhere from under the window to under the desk to behind my chair or wrapped around my chair and even lying just outside the office.
Scrappy (forever running around) comes and goes but Scooby and Shaggy stay around me most of the day.

Do your dogs pick up on most noises? Do they know when you are leaving the house?

Ours certainly do! They all hear when Dries, my hubby, opens our gate and of course start the welcome home party – which usually consists of a LOT of barking and yapping (Scrappy). They know when anyone is leaving, like when my son picks his bag up to leave to go to school, Scooby barks and then they all bark. And they certainly know when its braai time, all you do is lift the charcoal bag up n they sprint to the door ready to go (this usually includes a LOT of barking (mostly Scrappy) and a lot of looking at the door and then back at you, to rush you to open the door and then they all sprint to the gate and see who gets there first).

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Dog Diaries – Dog Personalities Part 1

Have you ever taken notice of your dogs personality?
All three of our dogs have very different personalities and levels of intelligence.

These dogs know when specific things happen. Example, Scrappy listens and watches the washing machine on its final spin, then she yaps and comes to let me know the washing is ready to be hung outside, I must then go and get the washing and put it outside, otherwise she doesn’t stop coming to call me. Then its the big race of who can get to the other side of the garden first, she nips at Shaggy’s legs to slow him down and he in turn nips at her neck to slow her down. Same story if you let them out into the front yard, the race to the gate this time. Scrappy plays with Shaggy as if he was a Sheep. She tries to herd you, so you go where she wants you to go even though it might not be where you want to go.

All three dogs have been taught to sit before they get there food. Scooby gets her food first and sits nicely, she is always enthusiastic about getting her dinner. Shaggy well what can you say, he takes some coaxing to get him to come and sit for his food, once he has sat he sniffs the bowl and leaves, if there is nothing nice in his bowl he want stay. Scrappy want sit unless Shaggy has just come and sat for his food. Other times she lies where her bowl is suppose to be and then won’t get up and sit for her food. Other times she also needs convincing to come and get her food. Scrappy is a very messy eater, she chews the food outside the bowl, in the middle of the floor, outside where we occasionally leave the pellets, so nobody will eat it. There is always a mess beside her bowl. Shaggy and Scrappy never rush to eat, you could never actually get them to eat. Scrappy can be lazy and will lie down to eat her food.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another example is when Dries arrives home from work, they listen to the sound of the car coming up the road, by the time the car is at the gate they are up and ready, Scrappy barking, they like to welcome you home in a big way, Scrappy barks and yaps, that horrible yappy sound dogs make. Shaggy barks a bit and cries, Scooby barks and occasionally cries at Scrappy for Scrappy to leave her alone. On special occasions Scooby and Shaggy will give you the welcome howl, (the way a Wolf howls).

 

All of our dogs have had a time whereby they all watch TV. Scooby’s favourite programme is ‘Meerkat Manor’ on National Geographic Channel. Shaggy tends to watch the same thing. Now Scrappy is a different story. Since she first arrived she has been obsessed to watching TV. Any channel with anything on it and often she will go right up to the TV and search for where it is if something goes missing off the screen, that was there a second ago.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scrappy talks, moans non stop, you certainly know she is around all the time. She makes her opinion known when you are busy in a conversation. Occasionally she will talk to the TV. To be continued…

 

Come back soon for Part 2 of Dog Personalities

 


 

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Dog Diaries – The Mischievous Digger

What can I say, Border Collie’s like to dig. In fact, all the dogs we have had, liked to dig. We find the digging seems to stop at around 18 month or so but before that, they sure can dig large holes in the garden.



We have been through this with Scooby and Shaggy and now here is Scrappy the ultimate digger. The problem with diggers is, they don’t just dig a small hole, they make sure it is large enough for you to see it and to know who has done it because of the signs, the brown nose and filthy brown paws – which are even filthier when it rains. It is difficult to catch the digger in the act as you normally find out afterwards when you go into the garden and see this lovely big hole, but, you do see the guilty face/dog that dug the hole. The culprit has this guilty look about them and is very submissive (trying to kiss up to you and act innocent), as they know it is them. This is exactly how Scrappy reacts.

It’s a well-known fact that dogs love to dig but they take it to another level when they dig rather large holes, which of course our Scooby did when she was still a puppy.

     Although Scrappy’s holes are big they aren’t as big as when Scooby use to dig, Scooby had the pleasure of showing the garden and grass who was ‘the boss’ and who was the ultimate ‘garden landscaper’. Scooby took this experience she had, with digging her landscaping holes and put it to use advising Scrappy on digging her first hole, of course Shaggy did not wish to be left out – especially after digging his fair share of holes himself – he stood by Scooby as they advised Scrappy in the art of digging holes and creating the lovely landscaping we wish they would not participate in.



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Dog Diaries

Dogs are fun – How well do you know your dog/s?
This is our Story – coming soon… Dog Diaries

Follow us, as we let you know a bit about what we are getting up to daily. Dog Diaries is our story of our lives, the fun we have, the good and bad times, its all about us Scooby, Shaggy and Scrappy. Coming soon Dog Personalities…

 

Dog Diaries: The lives of Scooby, Shaggy and Scrappy

The Mischievous Digger     Dog Personalities Part 1     Dog Personalities Part 2      The Cat Incident

 

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About us:

These are my dogs (see pictures), Scooby who is 12 years old, our ‘old age pensioner‘, Shaggy is nearly 6 years old our ‘adult‘ and the latest addition, Scrappy our ‘puppy‘ who is nearly one year old. Our aim in getting Scrappy was so that she can learn as she grows up from our two older dogs. Scooby is a cross border collie – spaniel and according to Shaggy’s records he is a short haired border collie, Scrappy is a pure breed border collie. All three dogs have very different personalities. All the dogs have recently gone to the Vet for their yearly checkups. The Vet says as Scooby is getting older her bones have muscle degeneration, the Vet also suggested, that Shaggy could be suffering from arthritis in his bones.

They don’t like strangers coming into the house. They will bark until they are used to you and if they are comfortable around you, they will come and sit by you. They tend to be around us all the time.

Scrappy and Shaggy both get on well together and play. Scooby is not so keen on Scrappy, if Scrappy comes near her she will growl or even get up and move.


At night the dogs are left to wander and settle where they are comfortable. Shaggy chooses to sleep in our room on his own blanket. He is the only one with a blanket, he likes comfort. Scooby goes between the kids rooms and Scrappy does the same but also sleeps in our room. When she wakes at dawn, she quickly goes and wakes up Scooby.

 

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They are fed in order of seniority, in other words Scooby’s bowl goes down first. They sit and wait for their food.
They each have their own places to eat, but sometimes steal if they can get away with it from each others bowls. We watch them and they know this. They all love treats and dog chews.

Pooch and Mutt

 

Where we are, is where the dogs are. I work in my office during the day and the dogs are never far from us, normally one in front of my chair, and one each side of my chair. I can’t move my chair for dogs, and its even more difficult if there are two of us in the office, then we battle for space between the dogs and they don’t want to move. They like to sit in front of the office window watching the world go by, often a bird will land on the tree or ground or a lizard might wander past. They can just see down the street, so any movement and they are there ready, watching and waiting.

Scrappy is our blue eyed girl, she has one brown eye and one blue eye, (this is part of border collie features). The coats on all three dogs are very different, Shaggy’s coat is quite course.

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Scrappy is soft and cuddly, Scooby’s coat is long and prone to tangle and knot. She visits the Parlor every now and again. Scrappy likes to watch TV and often goes right up to the screen and puts her nose there. Scrappy is able to occupy herself by playing with a big leather ball, she plays and runs around with it, having fun.


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