I have worked for many clients over the 17 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 learnt 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…”