Establishing good channels of communication is vital. No business
can exist without it and this is particularly true for your relationship with
your Virtual Assistant. Briefs change, goals shift and deadlines can be brought
forward – that’s life – and it is important to advise your VA about these
changes as soon as you can, but, as important, is keeping clear and regular communication.
Here are a few tips on touching base with your VA and creating and maintaining a mutually beneficial relationship.
A Virtual Assistant can become an integral part of the everyday running of your business. The best way to build a good working relationship is to speak to your VA regularly. Agree on a time that would suit you both. This can be weekly, bi-weekly, it’s up to you. Also, it is important to let your VA know, so far as possible, if there are set periods that you will not be contactable.
Use Written Communication
Calls can work for quick
updates, but for anything detailed, written is best. There is no need to write
a novel. Paragraph upon paragraph of
information can be overwhelming and lends itself more often to confusion than
Try putting details in bullet points. It is easier to understand and it’s also easier for your VA to put targeted questions next to points requiring more explanation.
Invest in Task Management Apps
Calls and emails are no
longer the only way to keep on top of things. There are many (more) effective ways
to manage tasks that are easier for you and your VA. Web and mobile
applications are specifically designed to be used by individuals or teams to
Create tasks, delegate assignments to members of project groups and assign deadlines. These apps also have instant messaging functions allowing your VA to immediately be notified of any changes or updates. If you are new to these applications or are not sure which one would be best suited to your needs, ask your VA – chances are they’re clued up and can make suggestions.
At times it can
be hard to come out and say something—especially when it’s not positive. You
may be worried you’ll hurt your Virtual Assistants feelings by pointing out flaws
or errors with their work. Don’t be! It’s possible to be kind while expressing
your needs and expectations. Being direct is the only way your VA is going to
learn what works best for you.
Everyone works differently – your VA knows this very well. If you do see anything, you’re not 100% happy with, speak up as soon as it arises and they can quickly address it, allowing you both to move on (and up!).
Communication is often a stumbling block that can cripple a company’s chances for success. As much as you focus on building clear channels of communication within your office, you need to aim for the same with virtual assistants. Keep the lines of communication open and flowing in both directions and you’ll quickly find that your VA can be one of the single most vital members of your inner circle.
In our previous post we shared 5 monotonous tasks that are time-consuming but necessary to the success of almost every business.
Here are 5 more important tasks that can help you delegate your time more effectively and boost productivity.
Online research is probably one of the most time-consuming tasks you may have come across. There’s a lot of information available on the internet and some of it is even true! Unfortunately, you don’t have the time to sit online going through website after website to weed out the important info you need; you’ve got a business to run. It’s not just a case of find, copy, paste; you’ll also need someone to verify that the information came from a reliable source. Just tell your virtual assistant what you need and how you need it presented – links, cited, etc. Ta-da! Problem solved.
Editing / Proofreading
Your website is often the
first point of contact potential clients will have with your business and
spelling or grammatical errors can be off-putting.
Whether you’re a student
writing a thesis, an author about to submit a manuscript or an entrepreneur
compiling reports, correct spelling and grammar is important. A Virtual
Assistant with experience in editing and proofreading can assist you by going
over your text and highlighting any areas that might benefit from a bit of
Quotes & Invoicing
Your VA can liaise with your clients, put together quotes and follow up.
Courtesy Follow up Calls
If your business revolves around providing a service, a happy customer can be your best marketing tool. If you impress them with your high standard of work, they’re more likely to tell their friends and co-workers which could become your next clients. As the cherry on top of your job well done, you may wish to follow up with a courtesy call to make sure they’re satisfied and have no follow up questions. Your Virtual Assistant can do this for you. If all’s well, great! If they do have any queries, your VA can assure them that the company will contact them, take all the details of any issues and let you know ASAP so you can maintain that high standard.
Transcription / Note Typing
One of, if not the most time-consuming task. It can take between 4 and 9 hours to transcribe 1 hour of audio and that makes 99% of people crawl under their desks. Unless you’re in the 1%, you don’t want to do it either. Fact is, some VA’s do! They even have software and hardware that can speed up the process. So crawl out from beneath your desk and call your VA.
Your assistant can also assist you with transcribing any notes taken in meetings, conferences and lectures. As long as they don’t need a degree in hieroglyphs to decipher your handwriting, your VA can have that all neatly typed out and presented to you in no time.
If you’re looking to grow your business at an effective cost then a VA is your solution. Feel free to contact us for a quote and hear how we can help you.
In every company there are bound to be repetitive tasks that, although vital to the running of your business, are time-consuming. Here’s a list of things you can give to your Virtual Assistant to free up your time to spend on the tasks only you can do, or enjoy doing.
So you’ve started your business and you’re getting emails from interested customers – great! But now you’ve got to juggle liaising with potential clients while chatting to or meeting with current clients and next thing you know it’s 1 am and you’re still checking emails.
Your VA can help by
monitoring your inbox, weeding out spam and sending pre-set replies to mails.
You may also find yourself taking a lot of calls from customers all requiring the same information such as prices on items or services. Supplied with the relevant information, your Virtual Assistant can help free up your time by answering these queries.
No one likes to have to cancel or (the worst!) miss an important meeting. Life happens, but a Virtual Assistant with access to your daily planner can help you avoid some of these situations by checking that you haven’t double-booked and that you have enough time to get from meeting A in Pretoria to meeting B in Johannesburg with time to spare.
You’ve got an opportunity to pitch your company to a big client. One problem – you’re in Pretoria, their head office isn’t. Your VA can arrange travel, car hire and accommodation for you all to your specifications to ensure you get to your meeting refreshed to land that client.
Conference / Teambuilding Arrangements
Your VA can also arrange
meetings, conferences and corporate or team building events.
The bigger the number of attendees, the more will go into arranging these. You’ll need to secure a venue with adequate conference facilities and possibly accommodation and shuttle services. You may wish to provide refreshments and will need to find out if there are any special dietary requirements. Handing out corporate gifts? No worries. Your VA can gather comparative quotes and get everything arranged to your specifications.
You are urgently trying to contact a client or supplier and then…”The number you have dialed does not exist.” Now what? Depending on your type of business, you most likely have client or supplier contact lists and those telephone numbers and email addresses are bound to change from time to time. Your Virtual Assistant can keep your databases up to date.
Have you outsourced these types of tasks before? How did it go? Got anything to add? Go on, comment below!
I’m sure that as you’ve navigated life’s
journeys and more specifically the many choices you have had to make, you have
also discovered that everything isn’t always white or black, either or neither,
this or that. In fact, the more evolved
you become as a leader, you will find less of your choices are simply black
or white, simply wrong or right. Often your choice is between good and slightly
better or bad and slightly worse.
When it comes to one of these more
complicated decisions where I cannot determine a clear this way or that way,
I’ve learned that if I look carefully, most of the time there is a Third Grey Option hidden in-between what I originally
thought were my only two options.
This option starts to appear once you open
yourself up to the possibility of its existence – once you allow your train of thought to become less limited and more
creative and when you start to view the problem from all angles and start to
think outside the box.
The Third Grey Option is usually a merging
of the two original choices that will
require some level of compromise. Therefore, it is important to establish
that the two sides (even if you are the only person involved) are willing to
negotiate and compromise on some terms.
It is good to start off by regaining some
perspective and reminding yourself of what
you and the parties are really trying to achieve. For e.g. the HR
department feels the team will perform better if the employees are afforded
more leave. The Stakeholders also want better performance, but don’t want to
incur the extra costs of the additional leave. Essentially though, they all
just want a sustainable, profitable business, and that is the overarching goal
they are ‘fighting’ for.
Grab a sheet of paper and a few minutes
where you won’t be interrupted. Write the overarching goal at the top of the
page and then beneath that, list the requirements/demands from each side. Now
you will get a clear picture of what you
are trying to blend and the colour it should turn into, i.e. which
solutions your Third Grey Option should aim to provide.
As you study the lists of each side notice the common ground, even if only
in principle, with both the overarching goal as well as the other side. This
will motivate you to keep going but will also form the bases of your solution,
as these points become the requirements each side will receive and won’t have
to compromise on. To hook onto our previous example, both sides want to improve
the team’s performance and neither want to reduce company profits. Is there a
way they can do that by working together?
The rest of the requirements/demands will on the list need to become
more flexible. As per the example, the Employees may not be able to get
more leave, but they will be guaranteed no interruptions by their colleagues on
the days they are away, allowing them to switch off completely. In this way,
the quantity of leave days and the
associated costs are not increased, but the quality
of rest is increased, and the Employee can keep his performance up.
The Third Grey option is usually a mixture of old and new suggestions and comes from a combination of some systematic legwork and innovative thinking. If there’s a way to give both sides what they really want AND benefit the company, you’ve created a win-win-win scenario, and isn’t that worth it all?
As we mentioned in our previous blog post every movie,
project, or company is only as good as the individuals behind it! Through our “Meet
the Team” articles you get a peek behind the curtain; to see who is making the magic
happen at AdminAssist, what makes them qualified, and most importantly, what
makes them different!
Up next in this series is Este Grove. Este, who was born and
raised in Rustenburg, is currently living her best life in Pretoria with her husband,
son and 2 dogs. Este joined our team as a Virtual Assistant (she also serves as
an onsite assistant in Pretoria) in 2018 and currently supports clients in creative
and marketing industries, consulting firms (based in the USA) and the security
Este is known for being our Excel Guru as she sure knows how
to get data organised in a way that is simple and easy to understand! To
further her already diverse admin capabilities, Este has recently completed a
Sage One Accounting Course and passed with a whopping 92.97% average.
We asked Este these 5 questions so you can learn more about her too!
Tell us about your career background?
I am a registered dietitian and
started out as a commserve in a very small rural hospital in the Eastern Free
State and even though the plan was to only stay there for a year and then move
back to the city, I ended up working there for four years. It was a great
opportunity to learn how to work with people from all social and cultural
backgrounds. The work, because I was the only dietician in the area, was very
challenging and rewarding as well.
After that I moved to Gauteng and
decided to build my skills in a more corporate environment (the complete
opposite from where I was) and ended up working in a call centre for a few
years! Again, very challenging but I learned a lot! I was eventually promoted
to the quality control department at the same company and after my son was born,
I joined AdminAssist in order to have a more flexible schedule and more time at
Through AdminAssist I have worked with various companies, and with every client I learn something else and improve my skills. It is really exciting to meet a new client and figure out how we can help each other to both reach our end goal. (For me it is all about building on my existing skills and finding new ways to challenge myself in my career.)
What would you say are your strength/s?
Logical problem solving
Describe the coolest project you have had as a Virtual Assistant? It is difficult to choose one, but the coolest project was when one of my clients sent me a voice recording of a meeting, they had with all the board members and asked me to summarize the meeting into “mind map” which they could send to all the attendees.
If you could steal credit for any great piece of art, song, film, book etc which one would you claim? The Harry Potter books by JK Rowling. Her books inspired me to read – as a ten-year-old, I wasn’t really interested in reading that much and it created a whole new fantasy world for me and so many others out there.
If you had to eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be? Sushi
It is a total pleasure having you on our team, Este. We look
forward to seeing how you grow as a Virtual Assistant and as a person. Thank
you for making the lives of our clients simpler! You really are appreciated!
are several well-made arguments for why you should outsource aspects of your
business to a Virtual Assistant and what it could mean for your growth. On the
other hand, there are a few myths that cloud virtual assistance.
We debunk 4 myths about outsourcing tasks by hiring a virtual assistant:
My business is
too small to justify outsourcing
Take a moment to think about what you do in a day. How many days you feel like
you just don’t get to everything or that the important work always stands over
to the next day and the next?
you weigh up writing a blog post at the cost of curating your social media? Or trudge
through a jam-packed inbox at the cost of scouting new business opportunities? No
matter how small your business might seem, you will definitely find several
tasks that can be taught to someone else, freeing up your time to get down to
require time and supervision
Virtual Assistants are excellent at multitasking and have a very proficient skill set that help them to quickly catch on to the scope of work and complete it efficiently. Touching base with them often is a great idea, but they most likely dislike being micromanaged. Think about a VA more as a support system in your business that can grow to be irreplaceable, rather than just someone who does your scutwork.
Assistants are expensive
true in the slightest! Virtual assistance can be booked at rates calculated
based on the work they need to do. For example, administrative tasks will be
billed for hourly, while speciality tasks such as copywriting, transcription
and minute-taking can be agreed upon at a per page rate. However, it is
imperative for you to be clear about your expectations and deadline so that the
VA has a fair amount of time to finish the task and deliver upon it.
No one can do
it better than I can
A Virtual Assistant is so much more than an admin lady or a secretary. As mentioned earlier, he/she is a person with a cultivated a specific skill set that might take you years to learn or that you have no background of. Depending on your needs, you can build yourself a team of virtual assistants with different skill sets that complement each other. Perhaps you need a tax practitioner to navigate your finances. Maybe you need to send a monthly newsletter but don’t know anything about MailChimp. Have you done one day of video editing in your life? If not, get someone on your team who is a pro at it.
done it, you’re an entrepreneur, perhaps still in infancy stage or perhaps
you’ve weathered (or rather survived) the start-up stage. Regardless what the
size of your business – you need a virtual assistant.
completely inundated with work and small, menial tasks that equate to busyness
rather than productivity is no good. Having too much work is not necessarily a
bad problem to have, but it can be crippling if it removes your focus from the
core activities required to build your
Here are 4 majorly successful entrepreneurs who’ve hired VAs.
Richard Branson (Founder of the Virgin Group)
Although Penni Pike, Richard’s personal assistant wasn’t virtual, she spent 31 years at his side and now trains other virtual assistants. She rightly states: “…learn to delegate — sooner or later you will have to get some help in order to grow. Delegation takes a huge amount of effort, patience and practice, but when you master it, it’s extremely powerful — just look at Richard Branson!”
Tim Ferriss (Author – The 4-hour Work Week)
calls outsourcing his emails to a VA “The Holy Grail”. He explains the use of a
VA for email screening on his blog and mentions that this is the last thing
CEOs and high-level Executives let go of –it also keeps them in front of a
computer for hours.
Tim set up his inbox using rules and trained his virtual assistant to sift through his inbox twice a day, answer relevant emails and create a to-do list for him that is concise and excerpts important tasks. Giving this list a once-over in 4-10 minutes per evening has freed up hours toward focusing on his business.
Michael Hyatt (Author – How To Get Heard in a Noisy World)
the selling point for hiring a VA, was that he could spend more time writing. As
his blog and demand grew, so did the amount of work that occupied his to-do
list. He subsequently realised – not all tasks were equally deserving of his
He delegated screening email, booking travel and managing his calendar. Michael mentioned that he was able to function that much more productively with the peace of mind that his VA took care of the rest.
Natalie Sisson (Blogger and Author)
brings hiring a Virtual Assistant right back to the core of why you wanted to
become an entrepreneur in the first place: “Do what you love and outsource the
rest.” According to her, you cannot do everything yourself and it’s imperative
to surround yourself with people who can do it quicker and smarter (a tip she adopted
from Richard Branson).
Natalie took time to train her VA for the required tasks and was clear about her expectations. Most importantly, she delegated and released control which is imperative in establishing an effective and productive working relationship with your VA.
Remember – you started your business to do what you love! A virtual assistant can help you achieve your business and personal goals faster and make the journey slightly easier!
Like in Hollywood, not all jobs in business come with
the fame and attention they deserve, but truthfully, these are often the
ones that make the whole operation possible.
Every movie, project, or company is only as good as the
individuals behind it, which is why we have decided to start a series of articles
called “Meet the Team” which will run the last week of every month. This way you
get a peek behind the curtain; to see who is making the magic happen at
AdminAssist, what makes them qualified, and most importantly, what makes them different!
We are kicking off this series with Karyn Sibanda who hails
from Zimbabwe, currently residing in Alberton. Karyn joined our team as a
Virtual Assistant early in 2019 and is currently supporting clients from a
variety of industries such as event planners, plumbers and professional artists
– talk about being diverse!
Karyn ticks multiple boxes when it comes to admin capabilities
(there are so many!) but has recently found herself focusing on keeping books
balanced in Sage One, and multiple other bookkeeping software for that matter! Karyn
also makes our clients’ lives easier by taking care of their personal admin
such as completing their logbooks, arranging and managing their meetings.
In an effort for all of us to get to know Karyn better we
asked her 5 questions:
Tell us about your career
I’ve been working in admin and bookkeeping since 2009. I’ve grown and learnt a lot as I progressed with time and technology, which is how I became a Virtual Assistant to keep up with the ever-changing times.
What would you say is your
I strive for excellence in everything I do, can cope under pressure and am always open to learning something new.
Describe the coolest project
you have had as a Virtual Assistant
I assisted with building a business from scratch. The business is now thriving, and I only met with the director, face to face, twice in two years.
What would your pet say about you if we asked for a reference?
Probably that I’m very affectionate.
You’ve been given an
elephant. You can’t give it away or sell it. What would you do with the
I would start an elephant-for-hire business for TV productions.
**We are excited to have you on our team, Karyn. We look forward to many more successful projects and happy clients joining in the celebration of your amazing work ethic and dedication! You really are appreciated!**
In an ideal world, you would be able to delegate all the tasks you dread. It is an important ideal because the quality of our work is so much better when we do something we’re good at and/or enjoy than when we plod through something that drains our energy. But, life happens! People call in sick, deadlines are brought forward, other urgent matters arise meaning that on occasion we have to just get down and dirty and complete some tasks we actually don’t want to do (I’m looking at you, Taxes….)
When this happens and you have to be an adult about it, here are some very useful ways to ease the burden.
Give it Meaning Have you ever noticed that your energy spikes when you work on a project you believe in? Before starting this task you dread, take a minute to reflect on the greater purpose behind it. You’ll find yourself with the bigger picture and more motivation to get the work done. Yes, some tasks like folding laundry don’t really have a ‘higher purpose’ in the general use of the term, but it does have advantages. Taking proper care of your clothes keeps them in better condition for longer, saving you money and kerbing waste.
If you can’t find the higher purpose of a task, aim at least to find the advantages. If the task has neither, should it really be on your or anyone else’s to-do list?
Divide a Big task into Chunks Your brain releases dopamine when you complete a task, but it starts doing so already once the finish line is in sight. When the end is not in sight, your energy may drop. Overcome this by dividing big tasks into smaller chunks. This way, every time you finish the chunk you’ll experience a spike in your dopamine levels, giving you more energy and making you feel happier before you tackle the next chunk.
If the task is really big you should also consider celebrating a little after each completed chunk. For e.g., after you’ve completed the first half of your taxes take a coffee break and have that cookie, and then continue the next half. How about, after calling 10 sales leads you ring a bell in the office? I sometimes just cross the item off my to-do list with a fat, dramatic red marker…. It may sound childish, but that doesn’t matter, because it’s just the way our brains work!
Turn Distraction into an Ally We’ve all heard of how counter-productive distraction can be, but we’re drawn to distraction because it works. Think about workers singing long songs while carrying the harvest from the fields, prisoners of old ‘drumming’ beats with their hammers or just yourself watching shows while folding the laundry. Boring work can ‘pass quicker’ if we use distraction to our advantage.
Naturally, not all tasks are suited to distraction, but if it’s a long yet simple task listening to stimulating talks via YouTube or podcasts works great.
Delay that Treat Saving something you enjoy to use as a treat or reward for completing a dreary task works well as an external motivator. Yes, a delicious brownie works well, but it doesn’t (and shouldn’t) always have to be food-related. I have a friend who, when she finds a good book to read, puts it aside for her next long flight. This not only makes her journey more enjoyable but she ends up actually looking forward to it. Or how about a massage for after the 10km race you committed to? Or a steaming bath after doing the DIY-job?
Mix it Up We all find excitement (and thus energy) in novelty. Something new and different gets us going again. We’ve inherited a brain that responds to variety, so find ways to build it into your day. You could go write the next chapter of your book at a coffee shop or sort your receipts on a blanket in the park. Complete your workout in a different order or incorporate new ingredients when you cook dinner. A new route to jog, another location to work in, a fun task in the middle of the dreary one, doing old tasks in new ways. You may think you don’t have the energy for this, but you might get a surprising boost.
In the end, these strategies will have limited results if you’re not healthy. Nothing can substitute for proper sleep, nutrition, and work/life balance and these should be your first priority.
Recently one of our trusted Virtual Assistants took to the streets to compare prices of a few products that many of us add to our shopping baskets on a weekly basis. Why? We want to determine which grocery store offers the lowest prices in South Africa.
It’s no secret that consumers are looking for ways to cut back on expenses and grocery purchases easily take up a large portion of our budgets.
Retailers continue to market themselves as the most cost effective and trying to help their clients save money.
For this comparison, we have taken 9 common food items from Checkers, Spar, Pick ‘n Pay and Woolworths and compared the prices. We compared store brands (indicated in RED), where popular brand items were not available.
Comparison at a glance. Items as priced on 3 May 2019
With these specific items you would have saved between R8 and R31 shopping at Checkers, although the saving is not as extensive as expected. It is definitely worth shopping around, but as it seems these four retailers are sticking to their promise of delivering value for money and factoring in the cost of fuel, you won’t necessarily save money by driving from a store further away just because it’s a Checkers.
Saving Alert! We identified a saving of R10.00 on Baby Soft® White 2Ply Toilet Paper 9Pk from Pick ‘n Pay and Woolworths, both R59.99 compared to Checkers and Spar which is charged at R69.99