By Brent Lindeque on March 4, 2019

“They may have been up since 4am this morning to get to work by 8am… chances are they have left some toddler to prepare himself for school.”

Johannesburg, South Africa – Zama Titi, the CEO and Co-Founder of “BiD-Me” shared an important post on social media that is being shared by thousands of South Africans for it’s truth.

It was Dietrich Bonhoeffer who said that “we must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer,” and Zama’s post is a reminder of this… and to be kinder than necessary, always.

Read his full text below:

“This is reality for one of your family members, colleagues or employees.

I still have blood relatives who still brave this every morning.

They were up since 04h00 this morning to get to work at 08h00. Chances are they left some toddler to prepare himself for school.

They had to survive dangerous streets, unforgiving queues and overloaded public transport to be at work on time.

If they are late – it is not because of lack of time management or lazyness as that job is the only hope they may have. So before you yell at them, pull out another written warning – spare a thought.

When you ask them how their weekend was – they do not mention that a neighbour’s child was raped, their friend was stabbed and oh the left over foods you gave them from your staff braai Friday came in handy for their aunt’s kids who is unemployed.

They smile and say it was wonderful – but if you look and listened closely – you would pick up the teary eye. When you scold them for being late – they smile and say it won’t happen again! All they mean is that tomorrow – they will get up at 03h00.

Someone cleaning your desk, bringing you tea, looking after your precious kids – may have been in the taxi you blocked on the road this morning. Someone you share the aircon with in your office – may have been hanging for dear life on an overloaded train this morning to make it to work.

Be kind!”

Source: https://www.goodthingsguy.com/opinion/perspective-work-time/

Working as virtual teams  is growing in popularity as technology is enabling forward-thinking companies to embrace this change in how employees work. According to a global study done by Regus in 2017, 50% of workers report that they work outside the main office for 2.5 days a week or more.

In South Africa, we have seen a growing shift towards employers embracing virtual workers, many realising the financial and productivity benefits of hiring "on demand skills".

While employee demand and advances in technology are mainly responsible for this shift in work style, digitalisation has made it possible for a greater variety of work that can now operate from remote locations. Virtual jobs are now no longer just for data capturers and proofreaders, jobs like cloud-based accountants and IT developers are now also possible.

Whether you are an employer considering hiring virtual workers, or a skilled job-seeker looking for work-from-home job opportunities, knowing what online tools are available to make virtual working possible is essential to making it a success. Email paved the way for faster communication, but now there are new tools available designed to streamline virtual working. Here is a list of free online tools that make virtual working and team collaboration a reality in a digital world.

Real-time Communication

Clear communication is essential to successful remote working arrangements.

Slack allows team members to collaborate in real-time and set up discussion channels relating to a specific topic. Team members can be invited to contribute to different discussion channels. For instance, if you are a business developer and need to connect with members from the marketing and account management departments, Slack is a good platform to use. You can share documents, images, videos and other data necessary to get the job done.

On the free option, you get 5GB storage and integration with up to ten apps. A handy app to integrate Slack with is Google Sheets if you want to share documents and spreadsheets as an example.

Another tool that works wonders for real-time communication is WhatsApp. Using WhatsApp for work may be frowned upon, but it is one of the best ways to quickly notify your team members on issues that need urgent attention. By the way, did you know that you get a WhatsApp web app where you can use WhatsApp on your computer? It is free to use.

Workflow Management

Asana is a web and mobile application designed to help teams organise, track and manage their work. You can add up to fifteen team members, create projects and assign tasks. Asana has a very good free version. As a small company or single user, it will be unlikely that you need to ever upgrade.

Asana allows you to create projects with deadlines and assign it to a team member. This is a perfect tool for administrative tasks. For instance, you can schedule recurring tasks, such as sending out invoices on the 25th of every month. You can sync Asana with Google Calendar and have the task deadlines display on your calendar. Asana can sync with Toggl (read more on Toggl below) to track the time spent on each project.

A similar tool to Asana is Trello. Trello uses a board, like a pin-up board to keep tasks together. You can add a checklist to a project. It shows the project in more detail with colour-coded tasks. This would be a good tool for web developers to use when there are many phases to different projects.

Time Tracking

Billing by the hour? Freelancers often charge per hour, but employers, consultants and other Independent contractors are now using time tracking tools as a way of more accurately tracking time spent on projects. It is easy to spend more time on a project than quoted for. Using a time tracking tool will ensure that you bill or compensate the actual hours spent on a project.

Toggl is an online timer which tracks and reports the time spent on a project. Download the desktop app and simply click a button when working and switch it off again once you are done. It calculates the total time spent on the project in a report. You can even download the app on your phone and be sure never to lose time again.

Top Tracker is another option, it works much the same as Toggl. One difference is that it takes a screenshot of the work you have on your screen which can be included in the report.

Collaborate on Documents

Google Docs is a free web-based application in which documents can be created, edited and stored online. You can access it from any computer with an internet connection. Create the document online and share it with team members. You can co-write and comment live on the document. Once you document is ready, you can download it as a Word document.

A lesser-known online collaboration document tool is Dropbox Paper. You need to have a Dropbox account to make use of Dropbox Paper for free. It allows you to create checklists, insert images and even has a presentation setting where you can present a proposal.

File Sharing

Google Drive is a file storage and synchronization service developed by Google. This is the best place to store many company-wide documents. It is completely free for up to 30GB. Create folders as you would on your computer and choose who has permission to access it.

Dropbox can also be used in much the same way as Google Drive. The downside is that you only get 2GB on the free plan.

If you need to send particularly large files, like a video, WeTransfer is the tool to use. It is a cloud-based computer file transfer service for when you need to send big files. It only allows a certain period for the documents to be downloaded and does not store the files on their server.

Virtual Meetings

Zoom provides remote conferencing services using cloud computing. You get a unique URL and anyone with the meeting access code can join the meeting. Forty minute meetings are free, but you can always create a new meeting if the Forty minutes run out. It automatically enlarges the screen of the person speaking, so you can follow the conversation with ease.

Choose the tools that work best for you. The idea is not to use hundreds of apps and further complicate your day but to explore those that fit with your needs. If it improves the workflow of collaborating with a virtual team, then that is the one for you.

 

 

Today, we’re going to take a look at the "must-have's"  for your own VA website.

What makes a website go from:

That’s nice…

to…

“Holy Moly, I have to hire this person!!

We’re going to jump into that today.

Why is having a VA website important? 

Before we get into the nitty-gritty and show you the best ways to make your VA website stand out, we wanted to share with you a few reasons why having a website is important in the first place.

And because we like to number things, here are our top 5 reasons:

Reason #1: While the VA world is still a budding career field, competition is increasing.

Reason #2: You may have all the skills and experience, but if you don’t have a way to showcase those skills and experience, you may be looked over.

Reason #3: A website is an incredible way to show off your unique personality. Clients are going to be attracted to YOU and your website is YOU on a page!

Reason #4: What else are you going to put on your business card?

Reason #5: You have a place to house your services and prices. Aka – if someone isn’t a good fit for you, you don’t have to waste your time in a discovery call with them.

(No sir, I will not work for R3 per hour).

ELEMENT #1: A Services Page

If you’re building a business that offers virtual assistant services you need a Services Page!

A Services Page is simply a page devoted to showing your potential client what you can do. It lists the service that you offer, either as a list or in packages.

Aren’t sure what services you should offer as a VA? 

  1. NEWSLETTER DESIGN
  2. NEWSLETTER CONTENT CREATION
  3. EMAIL AUTOMATION
  4. MAILCHIMP ASSISTANCE / MAINTENANCE
  5. SOCIAL MEDIA AD SET-UP / MANAGEMENT
  6. CONTENT CREATION SERVICES
  7. TECHNICAL WRITING AND HOW TO POSTS
  8. LANDING PAGE CREATION
  9. WORDPRESS UPDATES
  10. WEB DESIGN
  11. SHOPIFY ASSISTANCE
  12. SEO SERVICES
  13. CONTENT CREATION FOR ONLINE COURSES
  14. WEBINAR SETUP
  15. LIVE WEBINAR ASSISTANCE
  16. EDITING
  17. RESUME WRITING
  18. PROOFREADING
  19. TRANSCRIPTION
  20. DATA ENTRY
  21. TELEMARKETING / LEAD GENERATION
  22. INTERNET RESEARCH
  23. CUSTOMER SERVICE
  24. BLOG MANAGEMENT
  25. RESPONDING TO BLOG COMMENTS
  26. BLOG TRAFFIC REPORTING
  27. MAINTAINING EDITORIAL CALENDAR
  28. GHOSTWRITING
  29. SOCIAL MEDIA GRAPHIC DESIGN
  30. VIDEO EDITING
  31. POWERPOINT PRESENTATIONS
  32. EBOOK CONTENT AND DESIGN
  33. CREATING INFOGRAPHICS
  34. LOGO DESIGN / GRAPHIC DESIGN
  35. PAYMENTS AND INVOICING
  36. ACCOUNTING / BOOKKEEPING SERVICES
  37. EMAIL REMINDERS
  38. CALENDAR MANAGEMENT
  39. CREATING / MANAGING DATABASES & CRM’S
  40. SCHEDULING SOCIAL MEDIA
  41. SETTING UP AFFILIATE PROGRAMS & AFFILIATE MANAGEMENT
  42. RUNNING/ MANAGING CONTESTS AND GIVEAWAYS
  43. BRANDING SERVICES
  44. PRESS RELEASES
  45. PR MANAGEMENT
  46. TRAVEL RESEARCH & BOOKING
  47. ......

This is your place to shine and showcase all of your wonderful offerings to potential clients.

Not only should you have a beautifully designed page, you also need to create a services page that converts.

Here’s our best tips on creating a services page that converts… 

Read more next time:

ELEMENT #2: Responsive design / mobile optimization

Excerpt taken from The Virtual Savvy

Author: ABBEY ASHLEY

As you begin to decide on the tasks that you WILL want to offer – you may change your title from VA to something more specific to what you do.

As you specialize your services, you may choose to call yourself:

A Social Media Manager
A Pinterest Expert
A Sales Funnel Strategist
A Business Consultant
A WordPress Wizard
A Copywriter
A Facebook Ad Manager
A Launch Strategist
A Webinar Rockstar
A Landing Page Liason
A Unicorn Strategist (seriously – it doesn’t really matter what you call yourself – as long as you have a SERVICE to offer and you know WHO to offer it to!)

In general, the term “Virtual Assistant” is what people end up asking for and searching for, even if they really want a specialist in a particular area. It’s the term that they understand. So, even if you choose to change your name to a more “specialist” term – don’t forget to respond to and search for clients looking for a “VA”.

Excerpt from The Virtual Savvy

Author: Abbey Ashley

When you first launch your Virtual Assistant business, there are 1,000 different questions to answer. It’s an exciting time, but, let’s be honest. It can be craaaazy confusing too, right?

So let’s tackle one of the BIG questions that is asked often. You know you’re thinking it, too…

How much should I charge for my services?

Most VA’s just starting out have a very difficult time choosing a rate, because they feel like they don’t have the skills and experience to charge the price that they need to make their business succeed.

That’s why I’m going to break it all apart for you. I’ll show you how self-employment taxes need to be factored into your rate, how to determine what your starting rate should be based off of your hours/ availability and personal financial needs, and the difference between the various types of packages and pricing for your business.

 LET’S FACTOR FOR TAXES

Before you start setting your rates as a VA, it’s important to understand what your tax responsibilities will be.

As a Virtual Assistant, you will be considered an Independent Contractor. This means that you are contracted to perform services for others, without having the legal status of an employee.

The great news? As an Independent Contractor, you choose how, when, and where to work – for as much or little time as you want!

The not so great news? All the work that an HR department would handle for you as far as paying employment taxes, you get to do solo as an Independent Contractor. This means saving for and paying provisional taxes and submitting all the necessary paperwork required to do so.

Something to soften the blow – as an Independent Contractor, you’ll have the advantage of deducting any necessary expenses needed to operate and grow your biz from your taxes.

Some deductions that may apply to you are:

• Education/Training expenses
• Website Development
• Website Hosting
• Computer Purchase
• Advertising Expenses
• Subscriptions to software programs (i.e. Canva, Hoostsuite, Freshbooks)
• Business Cards
• Rent and Utilities for home office space (if used only for your business)
• Office equipment and expenses
• Professional Consulting Expenses
• Business Travel Expenses
• Freelancing Expenses (when you subcontract out your work)

Let me go ahead and throw this out there.

From the beginning – record EVERYTHING.

There’s nothing worse than coming around to tax time and realizing that your invoices and receipts are all over the place, and missing out on deductions because you weren’t organized enough in the first place.

As an independent contractor, you’ll need to save back approximately 25% of your gross income to pay taxes.

As always, it’s best to talk with a tax professional regarding your individual situation.

When it comes to factoring your rate with consideration of your taxes, we’re going to assume that you’ll need to save back 25% of your monthly income for taxes.

HOW MUCH DO YOU NEED?

If you are planning to have your Virtual Assistant business be your main source of income, it’s a good idea to determine your rates by working backward from what you need to make.

So, let’s say you make R10000 (gross income)  in a month from your VA Services.  Now – you’ll want to save about 25% back for taxes.

You made R10,000 last month? You’ll save around R2500 for taxes, leaving you with about R7500 remaining.

OR...Need to take home R5000 each month to cover your bills, fees and expenses?

You’ll need to bring in about R6250 for that month in gross profit.

Remember – in this article we are talking about coming up with an ideal hourly rate for you. To really grow your business and skyrocket into making 10k-20k months and beyond, you’ll eventually start subcontracting some of the work that you do and targeting high-end clients with specialized services. The purpose of this particular article is simply to determine your base VA rate and monthly budget.

HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU HAVE?

Listen up.

Being an entrepreneur is not easy.

It’s not something that you can just do in your “spare time” (especially if you are looking for full-time income!).

In the beginning, you’ll have to HUSTLE to get clients. You will put in countless hours, wake up early, and stay up late to make the sale.

Brew up another pot of coffee… ‘cause there are some late nights in your future.

If you have 3 hours to commit per week to start your own business, go ahead and stop reading.

I know things are busy. I know your life is hectic. But I challenge you, don’t FIND time in your schedule.

MAKE time.

Go ahead and decide how many hours you are going to commit to running your business. I suggest making 5 hours per week (at the bare minimum) JUST for building and advertising your business when you first startup. Then, you will have to decide how many “workable hours” you have on top of that.

You may have to get a babysitter one day a week. You may have to wake up 2 hours early. You may have to work during nap time instead of watching the Bachelorette.

How many workable hours will you have during your week, if you schedule your time well?

I challenge you – go ahead and block out your time in your planner or calendar. Decide on the hours you are going to work on your biz and let that time be non-negotiable for change.

LET’S DETERMINE YOUR RATE

So – you’ve figured out how much to need to gross per month when factoring in taxes to meet your monthly budgeting needs.

You’ve also planned out how many workable hours you will have each week to meet your goals.

Now, we will use this information to determine your rate.

Let’s say you can commit 40 total hours per week to your business. We will subtract 5 hours for you to work on developing and marketing your business. Now, you have 35 workable hours per week. That’s roughly 120 hours per month that you can be making money in your business.

We will use this simple formula to discover the rate you should be charging:

Set Rates Virtual Assistant

For example:

R15 000 Gross Income Needed / 140 Hours = R107 per hour

Maybe you’re only able to work part-time on your VA business. We can also work backward to find out how much you could make starting out as a VA.

Let’s meet Jane.

Set Rates Virtual Assistant

Jane has 20 hours per week to commit to working on her business.

She’s going to spend 5 hours per week developing her business and marketing her services.

That means she has 15 hours to commit to working for clients. That’s about 60 hours per month.

She is just starting out, so a rate she feels comfortable charging is R80 per hour, at least for her first clients.

60 Hours Per Month x R80 per Hour = R4800 Gross Income
Let’s subtract the 25% you’ll need to save back for taxes.

R4800 x .25 = R1200 to save. That leaves you with R3600 net income for the month!

LET’S TALK VARIANCES

At this point, your brain may be racing. Let’s chat about what may be running through your head:

I can’t charge that kind of money!

Yes. Yes you can. You have experience and skills that people are willing to pay for! When you factor taxes and expenses for running your business, the take-home rate must be enough for you to live off of!

Here’s what you’ll find. If you offer your services at R10 an hour, you’ll get treated accordingly. People won’t respect your time as much and will want to get the best “bang for their buck”.

Repeat to yourself: “I am not a discount service”.

What’s even the going rate for specific skills?

The average salary of a VA in South Africa is R8299. They may also earn the salary starting at R250 per hour. The specialized virtual assistant may ask for higher rates as well. This salary estimate is based on the information provided by Indeed of the virtual assistant employees, its users and the information retrieved from the advertising agencies in the last 24 months.

The rates of virtual assistant vary from hourly rates to project rates. The hourly rates further vary in accordance to the services provided to the clients. Sometimes the hourly rates turn out to be more profitable, if the client adds some extra work, make some change in the given task which requires extra time to get the finish. The hourly rate helps the virtual assistant to track the time which he takes to complete it and it further helps him to invoice the amount the time which he actually took to finish that work. It helps him to quote rates in future. The hourly rates may be high if the client is of the local market. The local rates in South Africa for simple typing starts at R 75.00 per hour. The virtual assistant also creates the packages to sell their skills to the clients. The rates for per projects are determined to keep in view the size and the scope of the project.

If you have general Admin, Design, or Marketing Skills (data entry, social media posting, simple graphics, basic calendar management, etc) the going rate can be anything between R100-R250 per hour.

If you have Advanced Skills (Creating graphics, WordPress Edits, Writing Optimized Content, Course Creation, etc.) you can easily charge R250-R450 per hour.

If you have Specialized Skills (Web Design, SEO, Building Landing Pages, Social Media Strategy, Infusionsoft, etc) your rates should be no lower than R450 per hour. You can go up from there as needed.

I have no idea where to start my rates!

If you are going back and forth on deciding where to start your rates for general admin work, take this advice.

Start out at R150 per hour and sign your first client.

Then, with each new client, sign your rates R20 more.

For your second client, you’ll charge R170 per hour. Your third, R200 per hour and so on.

Your skill and comfort are growing, so your rates should too.

PRICING TYPES:

Once you determine your hourly rate, you can decide how you will package your services. Let’s look at the various ways you can package your services as a VA, so you can decide which is best for you.

Hourly Rate Pricing

Hourly rate pricing is where you set a particular hourly price for your services, keep track of your time, and bill your client after the work has been completed. Some clients prefer this method, as they know they are only paying for hours that were worked specifically for them. The downfall – you won’t have guaranteed income each month, as some months your clients may utilize your services for 20 hours and some months they may only utilize 2 hours.

Project Based Packages

A Project-Based Package can be used when a client has a one-time project to complete, and you will charge them a flat rate fee for the project. This is best done by approximating how much time it will take you to complete the project and charging at least your decided hourly rate, multiplied by that projected amount of time. This type of pricing is often used for large-scale projects, like a web design, course creation, or social media overhaul package. Often, the VA will collect half of the funds up-front and the other half after the project has been completed. One issue you may run into with this type of packaging is an inadequate estimate of time needed to complete a certain project or service.

Retainer Packages

A retainer is a monthly package for those who need reoccurring help in their business. For example, a client will pre-pay for 20 hours of services rendered per month on a recurring basis. As a VA, you will still need to provide details of how your time was spent each month. This is a great option for VA’s who would like more security and the ability to project monthly earnings. Plus, you will be paid up-front, which means that you won’t have to deal with unpaid invoices for work already completed!

Usable Hours Packages

With this type of pricing method, your client will pay for a certain amount of hours, to be used at their discretion. These hours are not renewed on a monthly basis. You will keep a record of the hours you have used and, once all hours have been used up, the client can choose to purchase another package of hours or not. It may be helpful to you as a VA to put an expiration on the hours after purchase (example: hours must be utilized within 6 months or a year after purchase).

*** Remember, these examples are posted to inspire your packages and gain clarification on what a great package looks like. Do NOT copy these packages word for word. Find your own groove!

 

Author Abbey Ashley

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