I am the owner of a virtual business – SetUFree Virtual Services.  In order to provide quality service, I must possess the skill and equipment to deliver.  Well, I have the skills but my equipment did not reflect the cutting edge quality I nor my company represent.  Thus began my search for a better, high performance machine…this is why I bit the Apple – I bought a Mac!

I’ve been a p/c user for years; so I expected to continue in that path.  I surveyed friends – virtual and non-virtual – and did my due diligence about p/c’s and Mac’s.  I enjoy providing administrative support virtually but I’m a technophobe – I comfortably reside in the realm of end-user bliss – so an all-in-one computer with minimal moving parts was ideal for me.

Entering the Apple store was like an epiphany – helpful, patient and knowledgeable customer service personnel as well as high-tech all-in-one computers – wow!  I purchased a 27 inch iMac with wireless keyboard and mouse.  With one credit card swipe I moved from the Dark Ages to the world of the Jetsons.  I am officially a MacVA!

Of course, I’m experiencing some growing pains, but that’s a small price to pay to be on the cutting edge of technology.  My new purchase opens the door to learn more skills – video editing – and offer more services.  I’m happy I bit the Apple!

I was recently summoned for jury duty.  Part of me wanted to just do it and get it over with; the other part of me feared a long, drawn out trial with possibility of being sequestered (an experience I did not want to repeat).  I reported to court as requested, really demanded, and was chosen to participate in a robbery trial.  We were assured it would be a short trial, 2-3 days, and it was.  When we, the jury, gathered to deliberate, one of the issues discussed was the credibility of the witness.  Did we believe her?  A weighty decision given that none of us knew her previously.  We had to base our decision on the brief interaction in the court room.  That made me think – how is credibility assessed?

As a business owner, especially in the virtual world, your word is your bond – “under promise and over deliver”.  The highest form of praise and acknowledgement is a word-of-mouth referral.  A personal testimony to your credibility!  A simple concept but a major tenet of any business.

My credibility sustains not only my business – executing projects in a timely-fashion to the satisfaction of the client – but all aspects of my life – promises made to family and friends.  Once lost or even slightly tainted, this intangible attribute is hard to restore.

Safeguard your credibility – it speaks volumes about you when you can’t speak for yourself.

To be successful in business, you need to sell a product and/or service.  Some virtual assistants (VAs) do both; currently, I only sell services.  To that end, I actively seek clients in need of my services, word processing, project coordination, social media maintenance.  The vetting process between VA and client differs with each person and situation.

I met a potential client at a Chamber function.  I educated him about the VA industry and my business.  He expressed interest in my services and I found him to be sincere and a good fit for me (the interview process is a two-way street).  We discussed his goals, my ability to assist and of course, my rates.  The deal was almost done – just one crucial piece of documentation was required – a signed contract.  That’s when – POOF! – he was gone.  Was it something I said?  Or perhaps didn’t say?  Does he have commitment issues?

I try to glean some gem from every experience I have to enable me to refine my technique or approach for the next encounter.  It’s definitely a growing process with highs and lows!  As I replay this scenario in my mind, I can’t think of anything I would change, except perhaps the amount of time invested.  I’ll be better prepared for the next client encounter – experience is the best teacher.

Have you had a similar occurrence?  Would you like to share?

I like to help – hence being a Virtual Assistant (VA) is a great fit for me.  While getting paid for services rendered is necessary from an economic standpoint – sometimes you do things simply for the feel-good factor.

Volunteerism is an opportunity to assist a community, a cause or a movement.  The payment is the feel-good factor in helping a community, cause or movement.  In the VA community, 2 of the professional organizations I belong to are sustained by the VAs willing to volunteer their time and knowledge to assist other VAs.  The payment is paying it forward – the feel-good factor.

I volunteer – virtually and physically.  My virtual volunteer position is as a VA for a non-profit organization in California.  Yes, I get the feel-good factor from this opportunity, but I also increase my confidence and expand my skills with each project – a win/win situation.  My other volunteer position is with a food pantry for a church.  My personal belief is that everyone should have something to eat – regardless of socio-economic status.  I try to attend 2-3 Saturday’s a month.  I enjoy helping!

Do you volunteer your time?  What are some of the activities you participate in?  Can you relate to the feel-good factor?

I have a great coach – she’s been in the Virtual Assistant industry for close to 20 years.  Our sessions are always educational – sometimes a little painful if I’ve been slacking (lol) – but definitely informative.  She told me to create a Vision Board – a physical representation of my long term goals; something that will inspire me and help me over the bumps and bruises of building a business.

My vision board consists of various pictures and scenes from the web that capture my wishes and plans for the future.  I have a map of the Caribbean Sea and the various islands – moving to a warmer climate is a priority; I also have 2 doves in a heart (I’ll keep you guessing about that one) and I have 3-5 headline captions of my ultimate business goal – to become an event planner extraordinaire! This is how I choice to create my vision board – this is no right/wrong way – just your personal preference.

I must say that this exercise was not as easy as I expected.  I had to stop internalizing my hopes, dreams, and desires and physically display them – not a comfortable situation for me.  But pushing through that discomfort enabled me to focus on the ultimate goal and work towards it.

Do you have a vision board or goal board?  Does it help you to stay focused?  How did you feel during the process?

Comments are welcomed!

I’m fairly new to the Virtual Assistant (VA) industry…I opened my business in August 2008.  The VA industry is growing and more people are acquainted with the term and its definition.  Still, it is common to have a “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQ) page on your website which outlines, amongst other things, the general definition of a VA.

I recently received a message from another VA stating that my FAQ page duplicated hers – practically verbatim – I was a copycat.  She was notified of this infraction through copyscape.  I immediately responded that I would look into the matter as I don’t recall where I got the verbiage and did not make my own web updates.  Within 3 days, at most, she had escalated the issue to the attention of the board of directors for 2 VA professional organizations we are members of – wow!  Now, in addition to my own personal ethics and standards, there is an ethical agreement amongst VAs. She accused me of knowingly taking her intellectual property!  Calling into scrutiny my business and personal ethics as well as my integrity as a business owner!  She pulled out the big guns before I realized weapons were necessary!

In short order, the issue was resolved – but it left me wondering – what is the process for conflict resolution? For me, I first seek resolution with the perpetrator and allow a reasonable amount of time – more than 3 days! – for response and/or solution.  If the issue remains outstanding with no sign of effort to settle – then perhaps its time to escalate.

What is your approach to conflict resolution?  Do you use a baseball bat to swat a fly?  Or do you have a more gentle approach?

There is an old adage that says “you never stop learning” or something to that effect.  The learning process can be formal – classroom setting, instructor-led-, informal – life experience, skills picked up along the way or new age – virtual self-paced learning.  Each of these mediums has their own following or followers.

For me, virtual self-paced education, both free and paid, work best for my schedule and attention span.  highly recommended and offers a variety of courses and certifications for Virtual Assistants.

Sharpening your skills as a VA and business owner enhances your value to your clients as well as translates into an increase in your bottom line.  But, do you ever feel overwhelmed by all the things you should, could, need to learn?  How do you prioritize your continuing education?

Your comments are welcomed and appreciated!

As a Virtual Assistant (VA), I seek to, want to, need to improve my skills and learn more about the industry. My preference is to learn from those that know! My last post chronicled the highlights of a fantastic week and anticipated an even better week ahead. Well, I was not disappointed! I attended Forum on Virtual Assistance (FoVA) organized by absolute highlight of the event was the generosity shown by VA coaches Jeannine Clontz, Sharon Williams and Kathie Thomas – each successful business owners – to coach/guide/mentor 3 virtual newbies. That was pay-it-forward to the hundredth degree! Even better, I am one of the recipients! I will be coached by Sharon Williams, owner of the 24 Hour Secretary. This is the breakthrough I have been praying for! Thank you Lord!!!

A big shout out to my new friends; Kristi Pavlik, Lauren Pibworth, Grace White and Evelyn Olivares.

Special thanks to Barb Lang for organizing this mastermind event and to Patty Dost for being the catalyst to my good fortune.

I wish you all continued success in your VA practices. Thanks again! See you @ FoVA 2010!

I had a great weekend and am looking forward to a great week! A few short weeks ago, I felt overwhelmed, over-extended and dare I say – out of control! I asked myself – am I doing enough for my business? You already know the answer when you ask the question! But after this past week and weekend – I’m recharged.

First, I received the VAccolade Business Entrepreneur award from – a great honor and even bigger surprise! Nothing warms the heart more than to be acknowledged by your peers! Thank you again to everyone that nominated me!

Secondly, the church fundraiser I organized, a bus trip to DC on May 30th, went off without a hitch – enough food, enough entertainment and the most important factor – great weather! Planning any event is stressful – gratis or not – but I do enjoy it and look forward to the next bash.

Then, this week I’m heading to FoVA (Forum on Virtual Assistance) in Niagara Falls, Canada. I am looking forward to networking, learning and meeting some of the leaders in the virtual assistant industry. Kathie Thomas, founder of A Clayton’s Secretary, will be traveling from Australia to present at the forum. For me, this is an educational opportunity worth its weight in gold! The stars are aligning in my favor!

Here’s to a fabulous week ahead on the heels of a fantastic week gone by! I’ll have more to report soon!

The unofficial beginning of summer is here officially 😉

Memorial Day – traditionally used to host barbecues and family gatherings, also commemorates the acknowledgment of those in the armed forces – past, present and passed-on. We thank them for their bravery – and for looking so darn good in their uniforms!

Use this day to make memories and rediscover old memories – HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY!