Friday, June 21, 2013

How will you manage your business whilst on holiday?

How will you manage your business whilst on holiday?

By Dee Matheson

It’s that wonderful time of year again here in South Africa, winter has started, it’s cold in the morning and evening but during the day the weather on the Highveld is fantastic, blue skies and lots of sunshine. What more can you ask for? The kids are getting excited about the July holidays and all your plans are made for that vacation you’ve been saving so hard for. 

Now here’s the dilemma, what to do with your business while on that well deserved holiday? You can’t close the doors, you need the money and you also don’t want to let your clients down.  It’s only human to stress about this when you are supposed to have a relaxing time with your family. Some business owners have very understanding clients and communicate with them regularly and have created a good relationship when it comes to taking leave but what if you’re not that lucky and don’t have the backup support to allow you to take time off? Or do you make the fatal mistake of either not taking a holiday at all and disappointing the family or trying to work whilst away?

Here are some tips to help you enjoy your holiday this year:
·         Take care of the majority of work before you go away. Make sure whatever can be completed prior to departure is done and dusted and let your clients know that all the tasks or jobs taken aboard have been completed. Plan ahead and get help if you need it to get the job done.

·         Communicate with your regular clients or customers and let them know that you’ll be on leave and when you’ll be back. Don’t leave them in the dark because it’s Murphy’s law that when you’re not available, that’s when they want you the most.

·         Have a support system in place and if you don’t know of anyone, get yourself a Virtual Assistant to ‘run’ your business whilst you’re away. Let her have all the necessary emails, contact information and current work that’s not been finalised yet. She can be your go-to person and handle things for you and also liaise with clients on your behalf so that they don’t feel stranded. Currently I’m doing this for an influential client who is overseas and it’s working like a charm. My client still feels in control of her business even though she is not in this country.

·         Be available for any emergencies. Again, this is where your Virtual Assistant comes to the fore and she will be able to assess if there is any need to contact you.  She will very likely be quite capable of handling the situation herself and only contact you if the situation absolutely warrants it.  If you still feel it’s necessary while you’re away, set a time to speak to your Virtual Assistant and run through any important issues and the outcome thereof. She will be your right-hand person and has your business interest at heart. Remember, if your clients are kept satisfied, she will be happy too because she knows she will get paid and is pleasing her client, that is you, at the same time. There is no better reassurance than having a satisfied client and a job well done for both parties.

·         And the last but not least point, RELAX and enjoy the time that you’re away. You have now done everything in your power to make sure that all your ducks are in a row. You deserve that much needed break!

If you need support and are looking for that perfect back up Virtual Assistant, contact Dee Matheson on or look at my website on


Saturday, May 4, 2013

OIVAC 2013 its happening soon

It’s happening soon - OIVAC 16 – 18 May 2013

This year’s Convention, themed, Building Business Success in the Virtual World, is designed and the presenters assembled to guide Virtual Assistants at all levels of their business, so they can do their building and maintaining on a foundation strong enough to last for years to come.

Now, in case you may have forgotten even one of the benefits you’ll get in on by attending OIVAC here are some teasers for this year’s events:

• 45+ hours of training, best practices seminars, networking and workshops
• Learn how to get new clients, to make your current clients happy, and how to grow your business by leaps and bounds.
• You connect with like-minded colleagues and find new opportunities to branch out
• Recordings available.
• Intro to the VA Industry session – for new VAs or people thinking about entering the industry
• Awards presented to two Virtual Assistants for the footprints they’re leaving on the industry
• Events are presented completely on line in PC and Mac compatible VoIP meeting rooms
• Pay one fee to cover the entire convention. (No hotel, travel, food, babysitting or loss of business while   attending).
• Network with and exchange ideas with people from all over the world
• Sessions all hours of the day and night (across continents and many time zones)
• As the Seasoned VA sessions, a panel of experienced, expert VA
• And more

Check out the Speakers and their topic at this year’s OIVAC

The OIVAC assembly will salute the global VA industry during the International Virtual Assistants Day celebration, Friday, May 17, 2013. At this event, we will honor industry leaders, recognize VAs who are talking the talk and walking the walk, share client testimonials, and participate in intra-industry camaraderie, nurturing and networking synonymous with being a VA.

Hope to see you there.

Monday, April 29, 2013

There is an alternative to hiring staff.

There is an alternative to hiring staff.
By Dee Matheson

With all the tumult of the world wide economy, there are more and more smaller business owners and entrepreneurs who have seen opportunities and grabbed them with both hands. However, one thing that most of them did not think of at the time when launching their business, was all that admin. Many small to medium sized business owners get bogged down with the day to day running of their office and do not get enough time to focus on what is really important – making their business grow, networking and seeing clients.


Immediately there is the old school of thought  that “ I have to employ someone but I cannot afford a full time person with the type of experience that is needed and  I don’t have enough work to keep that person busy “. Yes, you can hire a temp but often you never get the same person and then you have to retrain each one. Where is the productivity in that? And you have to pay an agency fee.


The alternative is here in South Africa and not many business owners know about it. It is the Virtual Assistant. Yes, that is correct. Nowadays everything is done via email; Skype and the internet so why not use a Virtual Assistant as well?  A Virtual Assistant is a dream come true for small to medium size business owners. You would get a “secretary” with many years of experience that handles everything from answering the phone right up to sending out invoices and following up payments and only have to pay her for the hours she works.


What are the benefits to the business owner?

1.       Flexibility – available as and when needed. If you need 20 hours support one week but only 5 hours the following, a Virtual Assistant can do that.

2.       Pay only for the hours worked – as a Virtual Assistant is dependant on referrals and regular work flow, it’s in their best interest to complete your work as timeously and efficiently as possible. A virtual Assistant will provide you with an experienced service at an hourly rate.

3.       No need to pay employee taxes, benefits or office equipment – since a Virtual Assistant is not permanently employed, you don’t have to pay holidays, sick leave, maternity leave, taxes, training or even office equipment. A Virtual Assistant works remotely whenever you need her so you only pay for the work completed. No overheads as she will carry that herself.

4.       Match your requirements with a specific skill set – if you are looking for someone to transcribe legal or general documentation, look after all the invoicing or have something more specific in mind such as project management, search for someone with that skills set. By working with someone who matches your specific business needs, means you don’t have to ‘make do’ with someone unqualified again.

5.       No need to micro-manage – once you have delegated a project to your Virtual Assistant, you can focus entirely on other things safe in the knowledge that you willl receive the completed work back in time and error-free.

6.       Never miss a deadline – like you, a Virtual Assistant runs a business.  Your Virtual Assistant understands first-hand the importance of a good reputation. When you hand over work to your Virtual Assistant with a set deadline, that deadline will be met no matter what.

7.       Care about your business – your Virtual Assistant will understand the highs and lows, stresses and worries of running a business. They can provide you with support from a business perspective as well as an individual task level.  As your business grows, the likelihood is that so will your support requirements grow. By caring about your business and supporting you while you develop it further your Virtual Assistant will be your biggest support. She will have got to know your business and even use her initiative to help it along.


The biggest benefit is working with a Virtual Assistant that you will become to trust and whom you can build a solid working relationship with. Once you have found that person, you will have all the support you need to keep your business ticking over and reaching new heights.


For more information, contact Dee at or visit my website:

Are You A Virtual Assistant With Integrity?

Are you a Virtual Assistant with Integrity?
Regardless of where you are in the world, you can reach out to anyone within seconds nowadays and there are a lot of untruths about Virtual Assistants making the rounds, which is rather disheartening. Social media has opened so many doors for our industry, but they can close just as fast with tales being spun that can cause irreparable harm.

Because of the way the world works now, more and more people are turning to an alternative source of income and those that are very good at being Secretaries and Personal Assistants, use their skills by opening up their own Virtual Assistant businesses from home. This is great for the industry but with so many newbies starting out, business and personal ethics sometimes flies right out of the window. Most veteran Virtual Assistants are very happy to help and point a newbie in the right direction, which is one of the wonderful things about our industry. But when these veteran Virtual Assistants get paid back by unethical newbies, it makes our industry suffer and nobody gains. Veteran Virtual Assistants will stop helping the newbies and then where will we be?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Query from a wannabe VA newbie

We received this query today:
Hi there

The term VA  is new to me! I never knew anything like it existed, but at the same time, it makes so much sense!

I read about it for the first time in a magazine this weekend.

It makes me feel like there is hope after all!
I am in a complete “limbo” situation at the moment.
·         45 Years old,
·          female,
·          never been married,
·          no children,
·          retrenched from a reasonably-paying management position just over a year ago (interior industry),
·         now in a much more “scaled- down position” (…. with a “scaled-down” salary to go with it),
·         never invested in property….
·         Not likely to inherit much
·         … and EXTREMELY concerned about my future …(I have literally 20 years to get myself together before I retire)

Trish Donmall owns Conor's Admin Services.
Here she chats about running her business AND having children.

A Day in The Life of a Virtual Assistant with Children
I often hear people say that they want to work from home to spend more time with their children, then when they do they are discouraged as the “extra” time they have at home doesn't always turn into more family time. I know there are quite a few out there that will relate to this.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Is the South African Market Ready for Virtual Assistants?

Is the South African Market Ready for Virtual Assistants?

Description: the internet and making contact with experienced Virtual Assistants in South Africa has given me some insight as to what I would need and how to get my Virtual Assistant business started, but what no-one tells you is how challenging it can be to get the concept of a Virtual Assistant across to entrepreneurs, especially here in South Africa.

In the US and UK, as well as the Far East, this concept has been around for many years and widely accepted. But in South Africa, very few businesses are aware of this phenomenon and so far there has only been very limited exposure and most of that has been word of mouth. I take my hat off to veteran Virtual Assistants like AlisonFourie and Gaynor Paynter.  How they have managed to start off and keep going for 12 years, is astonishing.

I attended the local Chamber of Commerce networking session yesterday, and during my little promotional speech, I was gobsmacked to see the ‘aha’ moment that happened with some entrepreneurs. Unfortunately many business owners are still under the misconception that if they have work, they need to employ someone permanently in a job and these people need to work in their office.

Here is a challenge to all the Virtual Assistants that belong to this forum, get out there and tell people about this business and note the ‘aha’ moment. This entrepreneur might not need you, but you have now sold the idea to him/her and they could pass on this concept to others. The more we talk about it, the more popular it will become and everyone will be a winner.

I am doing my bit, are you?
Dee Matheson's ability to communicate with people from all walks of life, handle various tasks simultaneously and produce a top notch result timeously every time is what makes her a perfect Virtual Assistant. Small to medium sized businesses cannot always afford an efficient, professional and loyal person with 30+ years of experience, so her reliable, flexible and “can do” attitude is waiting to help you.

Friday, April 12, 2013

OIVAC Award Nominations and Early Bird Special

The Online International Virtual Assistants Convention (OIVAC) Nominating Committee announces they are now accepting nominations, through April 15, for the Janet Jordan Achievement Award and Thomas Leonard Virtual Assistant of Distinction Award.

As part of the 8th Annual OIVAC, May 16-18 2013, Virtual Assistants world-wide will participate in education, networking, training, partnering and intra-industry activities between successful VAs, industry member organizations, and businesses wishing to connect with the VA community.

Virtual Assistants eligible for nomination for the Janet Jordan Achievement Award and the Thomas Leonard Virtual Assistant of Distinction Award are VAs who “Exemplify the spirit of the Virtual Assistant Industry with their contributions to their clients and to the Industry as a whole”.

To nominate a Virtual Assistant for these Awards, complete the short forms located at and submit it by Monday, April 15, 2013.

To find out more about the OIVAC, the IVAD Celebration Awards and/or to take advantage of the Early Bird registration for the Convention ends 15th April.

Typing for Students

I thought I would repost this article as I am getting quite a few requests coming in from students looking for assistance in typing their Assignments.

When typing for students the first thing you need, whether doing copy typing, formatting or transcribing student files is the student’s guidelines from their professors on what they want the document to look like/layout, formatting etc. Each student receives the guidelines before they start writing up assignments.
Most students follow the Harvard Business methods and Academic writing methods with their assignements (there is copies of these documents in our Tavasa files online in our Yahoo group.

Referencing must be a specific way: (placing of brackets around references)
• start of a sentence, example: Malcolm Knowles (1984)
• middle of text, Lieb (1991: 1),
• end of a sentence, example: (Jarvis, 1987: 185)

University Professors are very fussy when it comes to references and students often get marked down on their referencing.
You can assist your student by checking that the references at the end in the reference list, link back to references within the document. With each reference listed within the text there must be a final reference for it at the end of the document in the reference list.

Example of Harvard Business method reference style:
Wayne, S., Liden, R. & Sparrowe, R. (2000). An examination of the mediating role of psychological empowerment on the relations between the job, interpersonal relationships, work outcomes. Journal of Applied Psychology, 85:407-416.
Put the book or journal title in italics the rest of the reference is not in italics.
The students, professor Guidelines will give you instructions on:
• Font
• Spacing
• Underline, Bold and Italics
• Justification
• Bullet points.

Your first page which is normally the student details, student number, title, the title page is normally not numbered, hidden number, your second page onward including table of content should be in roman numerals, then the page that your assignment, thesis, dissertation starts should be on the first page number 1, and carries on with ordinary page numbering.
Any tables, figures, drawing within your document, must be listed underneath the reference list at the end of the document. Each table, figure, drawing within the document must be named underneath or above it, example, Table 1, Graph of Trends, Table 2, Three Hats etc.
Underneath reference listing you should have:
List of Tables:
Table 1, Graph of Trends
Table 2, Three Hats

The same applies to appendices.

Make sure you proof and grammar check the assignments etc. At the end of your typing always read through your work to make sure you have missed nothing and reading through gives the addition of proofing after doing a spell and grammar check.
The one thing that I find it a hassle to use is Track Changes, I never seem to be able to switch it off and every time you open the document the track change come on, you then have to Review, and Final, this then closes Track Changes until the next time the document is opened.

If you want to add anything to this article or have additional comments please email me at or, or skype: amftyping.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

OIVAC 2013

Virtual Assistants Worldwide Eagerly Anticipate May, 2013, Convention
Online International Virtual Assistants (OIVAC) Leaders Planning
8th Annual Convention, May 16-18, 2013, themed
“Building Business Success in the Virtual World”

Baltimore, MD. One might think that after seven years of planning and presenting a highly successful convention for Virtual Assistants, the “well might run dry”; that ideas, resources and presenters might fall by the wayside. That supposition is way far from the truth as one can see from the schedule of events, speakers, their topics, and the networking opportunities that are in store for this year’s OIVAC Convention attendees. Historically, each subsequent year is topped with something new and even better than that offered the previous year!
With a theme like Building Business Success in the Virtual World” …and multi-level course offerings, this year’s OIVAC is no different. New this year, are two “main” Tracks; one in particular, to help “new”, “emerging” VAs, and even those in the “initial thought stages” learn “the basics” and some of the “how tos” of starting a VA business.
Not to leave anyone out of the events of this year’s educational opportunities, the OIVAC has specifically planned a “Track 2” for those Virtual Assistants already established in their VA business. As with nurses, doctors, social workers, teachers, and the like, who all must “continue their education” in order to remain viable in the ever-changing world, so too is it important for Virtual Assistants to be able to “further their education” in order to continue to excel in their business; to be able to learn about new services they could offer to their clients and to have the “hands on” experience networking can bring.
This Internet-based Convention is designed entirely to bring together all Virtual Assistants for seminars, training workshops, presentations and exhibits. This year’s line-up includes an additional track; “Social Media/Technology” for all, as well as inspiring speakers, educational topics and open invitation events to set participants on a workable course to take control and be successful in the ever-changing online environment.
Back by popular demand, OIVAC 2013 includes the UK VAs sessions and a session conducted by the Aussie VAs and African VAs, in addition to the “Make It and Take It Series”.
Now in its 8th year, the Online International Virtual Assistants Convention (OIVAC) is an opportunity to meet and to network with like-minded business professionals. It includes a gala celebration and award ceremony that honors individuals dedicated to advancing the VA industry through mentoring, education and goodwill. Exhibitor halls are “live” 24/7 for 45 days. Admission to exhibit halls is free.
“We’re inviting all VAs — from “aspiring,” to “emerging”, to “the veteran” virtual professional -- along with clients, small businesses, corporate supporters, associates and potential prospects -- to participate in our global VA celebration,” says Sharon Williams,, OIVAC Steering Committee Chair, and VA industry champion. She goes on to enthuse, “We also celebrate International Virtual Assistants Day (IVADay), a special event that showcases the accomplishments of extraordinary Virtual Assistants who best exemplify our creed: Dedication, Experience, Expertise and Determination to Succeed (DEEDS).”
As with previous years, “This year’s Convention has something for everyone — and is completely accessible from the comforts of a home or office,” adds Williams.
Virtual Assistants or VAs are independent entrepreneurs who work remotely and use the latest online technology, computers, printers, communications devices, social networking resources and the like to deliver professional administrative, creative, managerial, technical, business back-office and/or personal support services to busy clients.

About Alliance for Virtual Businesses
Established in June 2003, the Alliance for Virtual Businesses (A4VB) is a volunteer-directed organization, with a primary mission of advocating globally on behalf of the Virtual Assistants industry to promote the growth of free enterprise between Virtual Assistants, entrepreneurs, small businesses, corporations, associations, and other business entities.

About Online International Virtual Assistants Convention
OIVAC is an International Convention of Virtual Assistants providing learning, training, networking and information-sharing experiences conducive to the hectic schedules of work-at-home and virtual entrepreneurs.

For more information about the OIVAC, and to see all the upcoming 8th annual OIVAC activities, visit the OIVAC website, or email us at

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