Friday, February 20, 2009

5 Business Tips From Some Of The Women I've Interviewed Over The Years

One of these days I'm going to write a blog post about why you should use evergreen articles to market your business ( that is, articles that do not lose relevance over time.) I'll also write an article about how to reuse the articles/blog posts that you have previously published, highlighting fresh insights for your readers.

But for now, I'm going to share some tips that I have gathered from a number of successful women over the years. Some of the interviews as much as 15 years ago, but I kept my notes and the articles that were published.

Many of the people have moved on to even greater success, but their words of wisdom remain relevant years afterwards. Here are some of success the tips they shared with me:

1. It’s okay to dream

“It’s okay to dream big,” says Stephany Ogbonmwan. Ogbonmwan was a regional (sub-Saharan) sales manager for Motorola when I interviewed her for a profile published in Brainstorm, an ICT strategy monthly magazine. "Hold on to a dream and fight for it against all odds," she said.

2. Invest in yourself

Invest in yourself, says Maria Ramos, ABSA's new CEO. Interviewed in the late 90's, while she was still with National Treasury. She gave me the following tips:

  • Make sure you get a good education regardless of your initial circumstances.
  • Work, get scholarships, get loans or whatever it takes to get that education.
3. Adapt and grow

Look for opportunities to grow, said Zandile Nzalo, award-winning business women and founder of Zanenza Communications, multi-million rand South African Communications Company. Nzalo was still a presenter for Bop TV in the early 90s when I interviewed her for a profile published on Tribute magazine.

She said:“I don’t want to wake up one day and find out that the audiences have stopped listening, that’s I’ve become dry and boring,” she said.

Nzalo also said:

  • Keep up with new developments in your industry.
  • Learn to absorb a lot of information in a short space of time and retain it.
  • Constantly look for ways new information can benefit and your business.
4. Don’t be intimidated by challenges

Ramos also recommended we not let ourselves be intimidated by challenges. She said:

  • Choose your battles – don’t waste your time fighting battles that you cannot win. Once you know what you need to do to win the war, ignore the peripherals and just do it.
  • Be calm when there is a crisis. Don’t panic when there is a problem. Take a step back and ask yourself what you need to do to take care of it. Then do it.
  • Don’t give up – if you fail, try again until you get the results you’re looking for.

5. Never give up

My favorite piece of advice comes from a letter to the editor of “Move” a South African women’s magazine.

One of the readers wrote: “A cheetah misses its prey nine out of ten times, but the thought of becoming a vegetarian never crosses its mind. Be like a cheetah – don’t give up.”

I don’t know if it’s true that a cheetah has to be that persistent to find its meal, but I like the analogy very much.

Whatever your dreams are, fight for them against all odds. Don’t ever give up.

Damaria Senne is a freelance writer based in Johannesburg. Read some of her articles at and

Profile of Patricia Donmall, Medical Transcription

Patricia Donmall is Cape Town based medical transcriptionist (MT) that has been working in the field since 2002 when she started working for an American based company.

1. In your own words, could you give us a brief breakdown of what MT is?

An MT is in essence a medical language specialist who takes the dictations of patient/doctor encounters (be it surgery, x-rays, general check-ups, etc) and translates them into an accurate physical record.

2. Tell us something about your background and how you got into MT?

I’ve always worked in the administrative field and thoroughly enjoyed it. In 2002, I was retrenched from an Investment Company and was applying for jobs in the paper as I had a son to support. Having applied for the job, I was called for an interview, did a short typing/medical test. I was offered the job within an hour of my interview.

Due to personal reasons at the time I was very keen and glad that I had the opportunity to work for the company at that time.

3. How many years have you been in the field?

I’ve been working as an MT for almost 7 years now and loving every minute of it.

4. What specific field of MT are you in?

I don’t have any one specialty that I work with. My usual day compromises of a combination of the following: orthopaedics, OB/GYN, ENT, Physical Therapy/Rehabilitation, and Renal. I have also typed cardiology, oncology, general medicine, and a variety of others.

5. What specific field would it be good for newbie MTs to get into today?

Orthopaedics is generally considered to be one of the easiest specialties to work with, but from my personal experience I would say that there is no one “easy” field. There are how ever easy and bad dictators.

6. Do you have any advice for newbie MTs starting out today?

You need to have a love of learning to be an MT. The medical field changes and advances so fast, that you will often come across terms that refer to new procedures, drugs etc. Also be prepared that no matter what your experience there is going to be a learning curve to get into full swing in the job. Even an experienced MT when starting with a new company/dictator will have to go through the learning curve to get up to full speed.

7. What courses did you study?

I have no formal training as an MT. The American company I started working for in 2002 provided in-house training for new MTs. For me this was a two week period. After that I started typing what is called “live” work and have learnt everything else since then on the job, on the fly. I am lucky that I work with an incredibly experienced MT in America who I can call on for help and assistance when I have a problem.

8. Did you find it easy to break into the field after you’d completed your studies?

Not having had any formal training, I can’t answer this question personally but generally I think it is fairly easy for MTs to get their foot in the door.

9. What are the pros and cons about being an MT in South Africa today?

The main con about working as an MT in South Africa is that a lot of the doctors in South Africa, are either currently unaware of the availability of MTs to outsource their work to or are concerned about confidentiality and have the work done in house by their receptionists.

Also a lot of the doctors in South Africa have not yet moved towards digital recording yet and are still using analogue dictaphones. This by necessity requires the MT to be fairly near to the doctor to be able to offer a fairly quick turn around time.

The pros are that as an up and coming field in South Africa, it is great to talk to people/doctors who do not know of the career and that I can actively promote the benefits of outsourcing the work.

10. What are the benefits to an MT of belonging to a group like TAVASA?

While MTs are very common in the US and to a certain extent in the UK, they are not that many in SA, and most of those don’t actually work independently but rather work for either American or UK based companies.

I therefore find the camaraderie and friendship of TAVASA a great help to me.

11. Do you have anything else you would like to add?

It is a really interesting and exciting career to have provided you have the diligence to sit and work when the work is in, and that you have a great love of learning.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

4 Ways to promote your business this Valentine's Day

I guess it's hard to imagine what Valentine's Day could possibly have to do with your business as a transcriptionist and virtual assistant.

So I've decided to make a list of some ideas that you could implement in the next couple of days to generate some business.

As I've already mentioned in my email to TAVASA members, I believe that we should give some serious thought to the gifts we give our loved ones.

It's easy enough to walk into a store to buy a box of chocolates and get them gift-wrapped; it's even easier to pick up your phone or log onto the Internet to order flowers through Interflora.

And granted, those gifts are successful each year because they make us feel special. So here are 4 things that you can do for your business this Valentine's Day:

1. Promote yourself as a Valentine's Day gift

Imagine a busy home business owner/mother /father who is working long hours to make her business successful to support her family. How much do you think she would appreciate getting a virtual assistant as a gift to organise the little details of her life that she never seems to have the time to get to? How happy would she be to have her admin sorted more efficiently, allowing her some "Me" time?

So go on – go to your online forums and groups and offer the members a one-day special for your services, to be redeemed by their partners by the end of March.

2. Promote your services to businesses associated with Valentine's Day celebrations

If your client is the kind that traditionally benefits from Valentine's Day, then they already have the food, menu, drink, flowers, chocolate, gift baskets for their own customers well in hand.

But surely they need additional admin help to handle the busy time and make sure that their customers get what they ask for on time? How can you, as a virtual assistant, help?

3. Find out who among your clients has a Valentine's Day special

Is your client going to need virtual assistant help to meet the business demands generated by Valentine's Day promotions? Remind your clients that they too, deserve some romance, and you can help them make the most of the business generated by the day AND still spend quality time with loved ones.

4. Give your clients tips on how they can benefit from Valentine's Day

What does Valentine's Day mean to your clients? Write a short article reminding them of the upcoming holiday, and give them some ideas on how they can benefit from it (over and beyond the usual promotions).

Read more of Damaria's articles about Valentine's Day and how to show your partner you care at the web site for OneLove Southern Africa :

100 ways to show love to your wife HER way

http://www.oneloves outhernafrica. org/index. php/100-ways- to-show-love- to-your-wife- her-way/

Show your partner how much you care this Valentine's Day

http://www.oneloves outhernafrica. org/index. php/valentines- day/

Please read the articles, leave some comments, add your suggestions on what else
people can do to celebrate Valentine's Day.

Monday, February 9, 2009

What is Transcription?

What is Transcription?

Very I often, I’m asked what transcription is. Transcription is the transferring of recorded audio material into the written word. What does this mean in layman’s terms? It means that any material that needs to be documented can be recorded and transcribed, either live or at a later stage. Transcription can be done from analog or digital material although the trend is moving towards digital currently.

What is a Transcriptionist?

A transcriptionist is a person who transcribes the recorded material into the written word, usually making use of a computer, headphones, speakers and digital or analog playback equipment.

What Material Can Be Transcribed?

Material that can be transcribed includes but is not limited to: Speeches, notes, interviews, conferences, medical reports, forensic reports, letters, articles, website content, press releases, case reports, disciplinary enquiries, investigations and media reports.

Who can Make Use of A Transcriptionist?

Almost anybody can. People who can make use of transcriptionists include but are not limited to: Journalists, students, entrepreneurs, company directors, insurance agents, forensics teams, secret shoppers, lawyers, doctors and other medical professionals, production companies, government officials, university professors and other researchers, strategic consultants, translators, and corporates.