Can Your Business Survive a Recession?

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) announced today (7 March 2023) our tenth consecutive increase in the official cash rate. This means interest rates are the highest they have been in over 11 years. We’ve seen rising fuel costs, interest rates climbing, returns on investments going down, grocery store prices continuing to increase week on…Read more

VA Virtuosos is Back!

If you are a Freelancer or Virtual Assistant then you won’t want to miss my friend Tawnya Sutherland’s Season 22 of #VAVS – the Virtual Assistant Virtuosos Summit coming this October 24 to 28 to your home office. Tawnya kindly invited me to present again this year and I can’t wait. It’s always such a…Read more

School Holidays … Already?!

It’s school holidays already… again. They seem to come around faster and faster. And school holidays can sometimes send the work-from-home carer into a tail spin! What do you do with the kids? How are you going to get all your work done? This is a common problem for lots of work-from-home parents including Virtual…Read more

One flap up, one flap down

Run free Captain Jack – one flap up and one flap down! I never met this little guy in real life but was honoured to work on Dan Weedin’s latest book that included “quotes” from Captain Jack. He was definitely a real character. So much so he wrote his own obituary! You can find it…Read more

Warranties – Who’s responsible?

We buy and sell goods and services throughout the year – but especially at Christmas time, at Boxing Day Sales, Black Friday Sales, and end of financial year run outs. Warranties apply to all goods and services sold in Australia and in addition to manufacturer’s warranties, store warranties and express warranties, there are a set…Read more

Practicing Excellent Self-Care as an Entrepreneur

It’s been a tough 18 months – especially for SMEs and entrepreneurs. Now more than ever it’s important we look after ourselves. Stephanie Haywood from My Life Boost joins the blog as a guest contributor and shares her top tips for taking better care of yourself! Being an entrepreneur is often associated with late nights…Read more

Why are you in business?

I posted a quote to social media which caused a bit of a stir: “If you take a lot of time to ask, ‘how will this pay off’, you’re probably asking the wrong question. When you are trusted because you care, it’s quite likely the revenue will take care of itself.” – Seth Godin The stir…Read more

Your Digital Legacy

It was with sadness that I learned of the recent passing of a long-term colleague, Monika Newman of Absolutely Virtual. A well-respected, long-standing VA who had a passion not only for the VA industry, but also for helping those a part of it. I had known Monika for nearly all of the 20+ years I…Read more

20 Things Learned: Enjoy it!

Lesson 19: Really enjoy what you do! Remember why you got started in your practice. It could have been because of childcare needs; elder care; disability; a desire for more freedom or to be your own boss; or as a means for re-entering the workforce.  But if you don’t enjoy it why do it? Life is…Read more

20 Things Learned: Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Lesson 18: Don’t sweat the small stuff! I have seen so many VAs get really upset online when they see an article for example promoting the use of offshore VAs. Instead of getting riled up and attacking the author, refocus your marketing efforts on educating the market on what professional VAs really look like! Write…Read more

20 Things Learned: Accept Change

Lesson 17: Things change – accept it. Be aware things change and accept it. As Greek philosopher Heraclitus said: “The only constant in life is change”. The economy changes. Laws around doing business change. Clients change their mind. Your circumstances or those of your clients change. Perceptions around getting work done change. New technology emerges. Competition comes…Read more

20 Things Learned: This is a Service Industry

Lesson 16: Remember you are in a service industry. Remember you are providing a service – by which I mean we are in technically a ‘service industry’. After all our primary goal is to solve problems for clients. So you cannot help the client who calls you? Send them to someone who can – let them know…Read more

20 Things Learned: Be Professional!

Lesson 14: Be Professional – and Ethical! Professionalism is another key to your success – not only professionalism in your dealings with clients but also your colleagues, and especially if you are subcontracting to them.  It might seem obvious but in my 20 years I have seen some astoundingly unprofessional behaviour from colleagues. Professionalism can be…Read more

20 Things Learned: Be Authentic

Lesson 13: Be Authentic! What does being authentic mean? Well simply, don’t try to be something you are not. Don’t let people think you are in an office in the city for example if you are working from your lounge room with four kids under 5. If potential clients cannot trust you to be authentic,…Read more

20 Things Learned: Set Boundaries

Lesson 12: Learn to set boundaries and say no! It is really important that you set boundaries with clients and that you realise it is okay to say no. If you don’t, sometimes clients can take advantage of you and your time. It’s important that clients understand from the outset that your time is valuable…Read more

20 Things Learned: Use Your Tribe

Lesson 10: Use your tribe! Following on from Lesson 9 and the importance of networking is – use your tribe. Don’t underestimate the importance of people who know you well already. Tell people including your family, friends, old bosses and work colleagues what it is you are doing now, the benefits of outsourcing to a professional…Read more

20 Things Learned: Network

Lesson 9: Network – on and offline! Join networks: online and off – and engage in networking. Apart from the benefits of marketing your business and SEO enhancement of your site if the network offers links or a directory, belonging to a network of like-minded people gives you a sense of collegiality, opportunities for learning, and…Read more

20 Things Learned: Check Your Trainer

Lesson 8: Research your trainer! If you are the sort of person who likes training – and training is good – especially ongoing professional development – make sure you research your trainer! There are so many trainers out there now promising they can show you how you can make $10,000 in your first month or be a…Read more

20 Things Learned: Selective Advertising

Lesson 7: Be selective in your advertising. When you are starting out it can be tempting to go all out with newspaper ads, mail outs, cold calling, flyers, yellow pages (print or online) – but not all these tools work. You need to find out what works for your area – and for your target market….Read more

20 Things Learned: Be Flexible!

Lesson 6: Whilst a niche is good… be flexible! This is especially important when you are starting out because all work is good work. The most important thing you can have is a satisfied client – even if that client is another VA. You’re after testimonials. Testimonials are one of the best tools you have…Read more

20 Things Learned: Find Your Niche

Lesson 5: Don’t try and be all things to all people. Find your niche! You know the old saying: If you’re a jack of all trades you’re a master of none. It’s okay to be a generalist but try to find your niche. This makes you one IN a million instead of one OF a…Read more

20 Things Learned: I’m the Boss

Lesson 4: Have an I’m the Boss mindset! A common misconception is that this means you can do what you want. When I say no to coffee dates during the day, kick out friends who drop in, or when my daughter was at school and I used to respond to questions about what we were…Read more

20 Things Learned: Partner Buy-In

Lesson 3: You must have the support of your partner or family if you want to succeed in business. If you decide you are serious about setting up a VA practice, and you fully understand what’s involved and that this is not a hobby or a ‘side hustle’, then you must have the support of your…Read more

20 Things Learned: Not Everyone can be a VA

Lesson 2: Being a VA is not for everyone – and not everyone can be a VA! Just because you can type doesn’t mean you can run a successful transcription business. Just because you know your way around WordPress doesn’t mean you’ll have a successful web design business. Just because you were a PA or…Read more

20 Things Learned: Not a Hobby

Lesson 1: Being a VA is not a hobby or a side hustle. It’s a business – with all that entails! The first thing I’ve learned in this business – being a VA is NOT a hobby or a ‘side hustle’. It’s not a way to make easy money. It’s a business – with all…Read more

20 Things I’ve Learned in 20 Years

On the 28th February 2020 I will have been in practice as a virtual assistant for 20 years. I began when my daughter was then about six or seven months old. I want to share a few things I’ve learned while being in business: hopefully they’ll be of some help to you on your journey. Remember…Read more

Extended Warranties/Returning Goods

It’s holiday season – a time for gift giving and Boxing Day Sales! But do you know your rights when it comes to warranties or returning goods? Here are a couple of great videos from the team at The Checkout well worth a look to get a better understanding of your rights when it comes…Read more

VA Training – Do Your Homework

In a previous blog post I talked about the Evolution of the VA Industry. With that evolution – especially the fact so many newbie VAs are now coming from little to no experience in an office or admin environment, and others straight from school – the importance of getting training in running a business, or in…Read more

VA Industry Evolution

Tech transformations that happened in your lifetime A couple of months ago I was invited by veteran VA Sharon Williams of The 24 Hour Secretary and OIVAC to join a committee comprising other veteran VAs from around the world to discuss updating the Core Competencies we had worked on back in 2004. The other members…Read more

The address, the house and the land

Why you need all three if you want a web presence! One of the services I offer to clients is helping them set up their domain name and website. I also provide (for WordPress sites) an updating service including site, theme and plug in updates, as well as blog posting, social media graphics etc. (Contact…Read more

Outsourcing: Bad for Business?

I was sent a video (created by which raises an interesting thing to consider when you’re thinking about outsourcing:  Why outsourcing may in fact NOT be valuable to business. Check it out: Now, I won’t go so far as to agree that outsourcing is “bad for business”. After all I’m a virtual assistant and…Read more

Demio has had a Facelift

Recently we assisted in the running of, and presented at, the Online International VA Convention – a convention that takes place each May across multiple timezones and countries, across three days. Demio is the webinar/conference solution we used. And it’s recently had a facelift. Marketing features have been revamped and new interactive experiences added. The…Read more

Facebook Profiles, Pages and Groups

I was working on a project for a client – getting them set up with Facebook and speaking with them about engagement on social media. It became apparent during that conversation, and on posts and comments I was seeing on the platform, that  even though Facebook has been available to the public since about 2005…Read more

The Fraud Behind Living the Dream

Tim Ferriss – author of The 4-Hour Work Week – has never been the VA industry’s favourite person – especially when he advocated the exploitation of labour in developing countries for $5 per hour in order to get himself rich. As Meagan Day of Jacobin Magazine puts it: After dozens of pages of self-help and…Read more

How do you value employees?

I read an article by Shannon Aspinall of Shannon Aspinall Bookkeeping & Accounting. Even though I don’t employ people, I found it interesting because for me, some of the things Shannon said really reinforced what VAs have been saying for decades, and helped clarify the value a VA could bring to your business. In her…Read more

8 Email Failures

Some great tips from Seth Godin on how to avoid getting “blow back” when you hammer your email list. Remember Australia has a Spam Act – key elements of which can be found here – and breaches of it can land you in a lot of hot water. Now with the implementation of the European Union’s…Read more

The Cost of ‘Free’

Recently I tried to do something nice for someone – a pay it forward kind of thing – and somewhere along the line it backfired. I had discovered a gentleman whose writings I thought were very valuable. He talked about social issues on his blog that were important and had impact on the wider community, but…Read more

Employee or VA?

Just a reminder: If you are setting your assistant’s rate or dictating their hours and manner of work completion, they aren’t a VA – they’re a teleworker or home-based employee. One defining feature of a VA is that they are SELF-EMPLOYED. That means – among other things – they: set their rates set their hours…Read more

Personality Differences – Employees v Entrepreneurs

This article appeared in Business Insider – I’ve copied and pasted it below with a link to the original. Scientists Have Discovered a Personality Difference Between Entrepreneurs and Employees Around 13% of Americans are starting or running their own companies. Almost everyone else is an employee. We may have found out the difference between the…Read more

Dead Printer? What do to?

How environmentally responsible are you in your business? We’re used to reduce, reuse and recycle at home but what about your business? When my printer died I didn’t want to just throw it out and have it end up in landfill. According to Planet Ark Australians are some of the largest consumers of tech in…Read more

The Cost of Staff

Have you ever thought what it actually costs you to have onsite staff? In addition to their hourly rate you’ve got expenses like payroll tax, superannuation, workcover premium, holiday and sick leave, paid maternity/paternity leave, and the costs of office space, equipment (including wear and tear and upgrades), power, lighting and telephone. Then if your…Read more

15 Years!

Wow that went fast!!! February 2015 marks the 15th anniversary of my being in business as Executive Stress Office Support! What began as a way for me to remain at home with my then baby daughter, and continue to contribute to the household income, has blossomed into a very busy virtual assistant (VA) practice serving…Read more

Pricing your Work: Authors

How do you know if your book is priced correctly to move the maximum amount of copies? This nice blog by Anastasia V Pergakis on Indies Unlimited may help. How do you know if your book is priced correctly to move the maximum amount of copies? For some this might take some time and a…Read more

What’s a VA Do?

Ever wondered what sorts of things a VA can actually do? One of my clients did and recently asked me for a list. So, here’s that list. This is by no means comprehensive and if the task isn’t on this list it doesn’t mean a VA can’t do it. Just ask and you’ll find out!…Read more