One of the things I do as a VA is manage websites for clients and I’ve built many too. I started to do this out of necessity for myself back in 1996 when it was hard to find a web designer and I’ve learnt along the way. Having transitioned from MS Publisher (yes, seriously!), to MS FrontPage to Dreamweaver and eventually WordPress (2006) there is still much to learn. I doubt I’ll ever know it all but I know enough to get websites up and running in reasonably short time and teach my clients how to manage their sites – if they wish. Clients started coming to me to find out who I was using as they were having problems with their webmaster, or the webmaster had disappeared, or they found they didn’t have control of their sites. I firmly believe the client should have control of their website and not be left to having no control or access to their site. What if something happened to me? Where would they be then? I still come across people who have no access to their sites, and some don’t even have their domains registered in their names but that of the webmaster. What the? That’s just not cool at all and bad business etiquette.
“The day I stop learning is the day I die”. Dorothy Brimble
My grandmother told me this when I was just 14 years old. No idea what we were talking about at the time, but she was a lady that taught herself a new word from the dictionary regularly through her life, did crosswords, hand wrote out music just to keep her hands working well and because she loved the way the notes played on the bar lines and the curves of the treble and bass clefs, played multiple instruments, wrote stories and spent a lot of time in the garden. She and I were either in her dining room where the piano and other instruments were, or out in the garden together often. I loved staying at her place during school holidays, and, as I was the oldest grandchild, I got to stay with her long before the others did. She taught me much and my love of music and gardening, oh and writing, surely come from the many hours I spent with her and learning from her. I loved her very much.
I applied myself growing up, reading much, learning anything that interested me and always learning new things. Guess that’s why I took to the Internet quickly in 1996 when it became available here for the business and changed the way I did business with clients and showed hundreds, thousands actually, how they could also do business this way.
Somewhere along the line I became happy with the status quo, servicing my own clients, bringing on board new VAs and training some of them and teaching new clients about how to do business via the internet. I stopped reading as many books and I also became complacent about my own health and well being. Late last year I discovered I was the heaviest I’d ever been in my life, despite my doctor telling me 2 or 3 years ago I needed to get more exercise. I was walking regularly thinking that would solve things, but it didn’t. I needed to do more. And I was catching colds, flu, whatever was doing the rounds. I thought I was safe at home not mixing with the general public, but that wasn’t the case at all.
Early this year my youngest daughter invited me to join her on a 4 week transformation program at a local gym. I agreed and sat in their introductory meeting and realised, with a shock, I knew nothing about healthy diets, or what is a carbohydrate, that there are actually good fats, and so on. After just 4 weeks at the gym, 3 days a week, I began losing weight and eating much better and maintained that for a couple of months and then plateaued. The same daughter then introduced me to her new health program and business and I recognised I needed to do more. I joined her in that and now partake of healthy fruit & vegetable capsules, as well as having access to over 200 fantastic recipes cooking with fruits and vegetables (some of which we’ve grown here at home). Very little processed foods these days – I make it all from scratch. I have discovered I can still have my chocolate (and cake) and eat it too – they’re just prepared in different ways with far more nutritious and healthy ingredients and I’m continuing to lose weight and feeling far more energetic and healthy than I have in a long, long time. As virtual assistants work at home and are in front of a computer for many hours, it is important we look after ourselves and our bodies.
Taking it a step further I’ve begun listening in on the training programs and you know what? Some of the things they share via the health program I learnt years ago (through Amway) and had forgotten, or just not paid attention to. And I’m learning new things too – things that excite me and that I can apply to my own VA business as well. Last night they shared an excellent short video called Retrain Your Mind and I think it’s a valuable one for you all to sit and watch and listen to as well.
Late last year I left BNI (shock, horror!) after 15 years of membership. I felt I wasn’t learning anything new any more and it was just the same old, same old. For a long, long time I got a lot out of BNI and met some fantastic people, some of whom still provide me with services today (IT support, accounting, bookkeeping, printing, etc) and still have many clients I was referred to during that time. And if you’re considering joining I highly recommend you do. Remember, I was a member for 15 years so you will get a lot out of it. But my own personal learning had come to a standstill and so I moved on. I joined the local Rotary Club and have become actively involved there, meeting new people and giving back to community using the skill sets I’ve developed over the past 23 years, but still seeking to find another avenue where I can, once again, increase my learning. I believe I’ve found that through another fairly new group of business owners meeting together monthly. Early days yet but the two meetings I’ve attended have been really worthwhile and my mind, once again, is racing with ideas. Hopefully I can bring them to fruition over time.
While I do belong to several online groups for various things (business, hobbies, etc) and learn things from members there, I’m finding I really need to get back into reading and listening too.
So with the health and nutrition program and their teachings, and also the new business group I’ve joined, I feel like I’m getting back on track again and taking notice of those words my grandmother shared with me so long ago. The day I stop learning is the day I die. We can apply that to our businesses too – or anything in our lives. Important to keep learning to move forward. It’s why it’s important we should be networking, both online and offline, listening to others, sharing ideas, mixing and mingling and remaining visibly active.
What about you? Are you actively reading and learning or do you need to get back into it too?
Having a good Secretariat help run your daily administrative requirements is a must-have if your NFP is going to move forward. Over the past 20 years I’ve worked with several NFPs. Some have moved on because they got to a point where they needed a full-time staff member to handle the role, others I handed over to other team members of my VA Network when the hours increased and I was no longer able to manage the position.
There is a lot to managing the office of a NFP and many get to the point where it can no longer be run by their voluntary committee. And perhaps it’s about developing a professional outlook for an organisation that wants to be seen as growing.
What kind of things do Secretariat support staff do?
- Manage the day-to-day admin requirements of any office
- Answer calls
- Respond to emails
- Manage the membership database, enquiries, renewals, etc
- Prepare newsletters and organise the printing and sending out
- Receive postal mail and distribute as needed
- Take minutes of meetings, prepare agendas and coordinate meetings
- Manage the organisation of promotion of events, registrations and payments of monies
- Assist with conference and other event management
- Assist with publication of documents
- Update website
- Manage social media
- Bookkeeping and reporting to the Treasurer
- Banking (online or in person), invoices and payments
It takes time for a new Secretariat to get to know and understand the new NFP they take on and it’s really important that the NFP has elected a member of the Board or Committee to be the main ‘report’ for the Secretariat so you don’t end up with a ‘too many chiefs’ scenario. Can get confusing as to who you should be letting know what and when.
Secretariats provide their own office space, equipment, tools, software, etc and invoice for an agreed number of hours per month at a set rate. Additional expenses such as postage, stationery, printing, dedicate phone line, etc are invoice accordingly.
Ideally, having a Virtual Assistant manage the Secretariat for an NFP is the perfect answer! Why not contact me today and enquire how we can help you?
Do they mix?
Some years ago I wrote about the importance of getting outside and about vitamin D deficiency. And another about the size of our shadows. I probably haven’t covered this topic as often as I should. I, more than anyone, know how easy it is to stack on the weight when you’re sitting in front of a computer at least 5 days a week and not venturing outside much at all. To get something to eat is just a walk to the kitchen which is in the room next door. Hardly any exercise 🙂
Late last year, in December, I had a wake up call. My weight was the heaviest it had ever been in my life, even after several pregnancies, and I looked fat in the mirror. I hated what I was seeing. I had to do something about it! My husband and I had been planning a 2 week holiday in Tasmania to visit parks and gardens (my passion outside of work) so we made sure we walked every single day and I chose to eat healthy every day. I did lose some weight during that time but it didn’t take long for it to come back on again – especially with Christmas and New Year shortly after our holiday.
Mid January my youngest daughter invited to join her on a 4 week transformation program at a gym about 20 mins away. I agreed and went 3 times a week and started the meal plan that they gave us as well. I lost weight during that time and started a new regime of exercise and meal planning (one of the secrets to not binging is actually planning your meals and ensuring you’re eating enough to stop you wanting to nibble constantly). Then that same daughter found her dream business (all our daughters run their own businesses – think it’s because they grew up with a mum who runs one 🙂 ) which is a health business and they teach about lifestyle changes (not diets), provide lots and lots (over 200) recipes of good healthy fruits and veges and other natural foods, as well as nutritional supplements in the form of capsules that are made up of fruit, berry and vegetable powders, plus shakes (I’d gotten used to taking protein powder shakes while at the gym) and more exercise examples. There are even chewables for children to ensure they’re getting the fruit and vegetables they need in their diets.
You could say I’ve gone through a lifestyle change. My doctor certainly thinks so and hopefully, in a couple more months, I’ll be off my hypertension meds. She had told me a couple of years ago if I changed what I was eating and exercised more, that my blood pressure would improve – and it has. I just needed to be ready to do it!
I’ve been walking regularly for some years now, always with a camera in hand, but that still hadn’t been enough. Now the different meals I prepare, warm water with lemon juice in the mornings, along with raw carrot cake granola and greek yoghurt for breakfast (just one of the many recipes shared), and other really yummy foods, and working out in my loungeroom 3 days a week, has made a big different. 9kgs (19.8lb) down and counting. Not fast weight loss but regular steady weight loss. Not yet at my desired weight but well on the way to it and I’m very happy about this.
I love the work I do, as a Virtual Assistant, and I love helping many other VAs achieve their business goals too, but our health goals are also very important. I’ve found I’m now sleeping better, much more alert and active and feel like I’ve woken up from a fog cloud – even though I hadn’t realised I was in one, till I came out of it. This year I’ve become really active in local community groups too – because I feel like it and because I have the energy to do so. And my husband and I are working on a huge garden project here at home – definitely need the energy and stamina for that!
If you’re struggling with your health, and particularly your weight, now is the time to look at what’s happening in your life and make changes. And I’d love to hear about it!
I see this question often at Facebook groups (where I hang out most online) and here is one of my answers:
- work out what services you want to provide and what your rates will be
- set up an online presence, through a Facebook page, LinkedIn profile, and a website (if you can manage it)
- spend time networking with other business owners – not VAs but people who need your services. This can be through online business groups at Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and elsewhere, as well as locally where you live
- read as much as you can. There are publications published about being a VA and lots of blog posts
- check out the profiles and websites of other VAs to see what they do, what they’ve written and how they operate.
On the latter one clicking on the About part of any VAs profile at Facebook should lead you to their website and other places online that they have a presence with. From there you can see what they’ve put on their website, the services they offer, how they allow clients to contact them and so on.