Become a member of our team today!
Please note – home based secretaries are known as Virtual Assistants globally.
You may join here application form, and forward to our office with your payment (in Australian $$).
Membership Benefits tells you what comes with your membership. Our FAQs are below.
‘A Clayton’s Secretary’ is a team of home-based secretaries and administrators, having served many communities and areas of business since 1994 in Australia. Each secretary or administrative support works independently, offering different services at different prices. As an independent contractor, each secretary works as his or her own boss, in their own business, based in their home in most cases.
Code of Ethics
Members of the “A Clayton’s Secretary” Network shall at all times:
Provide service with: integrity, dignity, loyalty, confidentiality, competence and trust.
All members must have minimal secretarial OR office-based experience (bookkeeping, transcription, data entry, etc) of at least five years and a good understanding of the use of computer and programs relating to secretarial service. It is not necessary to be familiar with all computer programs, but to have a good knowledge of a common word processor, use of keyboard and hotkey functions and the ability to develop skills and knowledge in other packages.
Memberships relate to the individual only and not groups of people. Therefore client jobleads given out should be completed by the responding member and not someone else (a non-member) they wish to pass the work to.
Upon acceptance to our team, you will be added to our chat forum and our job leads list online. You will also be added to our website so clients can find you by searching for skills or location. Please take note of your state or country web page address because this is where you will be listed and you can let people know that you are now on the web! You will also receive, as an added benefit, the networking opportunities that belonging to our team provides.
Accreditation: All members are entitled to apply for Accreditation as an online operator. Length of membership is not dependent on the application, as long as they are a current financial member. Approved Accreditation is dependent upon Recognised Prior Learning, continued professional development, experience in the industry and active participation within the industry.
REQUIREMENTS AND RECOMMENDATIONS:
Your membership fee must be current.
You are not required to register a business name, however we recommend that you get a good accountant and check with him/her about possible requirements. Because you are working as an independent contractor, you will be responsible for your own taxes, insurances, work cover, etc. If you choose to register a Business Name this will need to be done through the Corporate Affairs Office or similar department in your state or country.
You choose your own hours and the type of work you would like to do. You will also set your own rates, generally these are on a per hour basis in most cases, but sometimes might be per project or even per word or line – depending on the job. Therefore payment comes from the client and not via this office.
Please note: We cannot keep you engaged in full time work, but will provide referrals from clients, give clients web access to your details, provide exposure for your business, give you access to information, resources and advice from some of the most senior VAs in the industry and help you develop your business into what you want it to be.
The Secretarial Profile MUST be filled out to assist with your listing online. No applications will be processed without the all 3 items: application form, resume and payment.
SUPPLEMENTAL INFORMATION AND FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
If you’re serious about starting a home-based business, this may be just what you’re looking for. This is not a get-rich-quick scheme but a networking team of hard working, home-based secretaries who work as independent contractors. They are working in their own business as their own boss, contracting to a number of clients. There are many, many small business and home-based operators who do not have the skills themselves or the need for a full-time secretary, but are still requiring secretarial support. That’s where ‘A Clayton’s Secretary’ comes in – the Secretary they need when they haven’t got a secretary!
Like any business, it takes time and money to start. What is nice about this business is that it is possible to start with a little investment, and you can spend as much as you want on upgrading your office as your business grows.
To join our team, you need to fill out the application form. This form tells us what services you would like to offer (i.e. word processing, data base information, or input, bookkeeping, desk top publishing, faxing, pick-up and delivery, etc.).
The following list should answer any questions you might have. If however, you still have questions regarding this business… feel free to write to us or send an email to get the answers.
Q. How much work will I get? (This is our most asked question so let’s start here!)
We cannot guarantee how much work you will get and membership of our network doesn’t only include job referrals. See membership benefits for the full list. We do get job requests regularly, almost every day of the week, from many parts of the world, and often several requests per day. Whilst we do have a number of VAs on our team, they don’t all have the same skillset, experience, are in different locations, and have different time availabilities. Some work only a few hours a week, others full-time – it’s their choice. Consequently responses to job referrals are usually fairly low in number and clients are given the opportunity to decide who they would like to work with.
Membership of ACS will give you increased exposure to clients – you will have your own web page so clients may contact you direct if they wish and often do. Any contact made in this office by a client through email or phone is channelled to members to respond to, providing they have the experience and availability required by the client. Some clients do require onsite support and others don’t, consequently your location isn’t always a necessary requirement for the work to be done. Whilst a large number of job requests are Australian based we are getting increasing requests from other countries, including the US, UK, France, Germany, Asia and other countries. We will also help you market your business and promote yourself, and many members do separate advertising and then refer back to the team any work they cannot handle personally. So you benefit from the collective advertising of all members . Your membership subscription should be classed either as a business membership or as part of your advertising budget and is a tax expense.
Q. What kind of experience or education do I need to be successful in this business?
We have found at ‘A Clayton’s Secretary’ that the more services you can offer, in the beginning, the more money you can make. Basic typing should be the first thing on your list. As you go along, you will add services to your list. For example: you may want to add bookkeeping, desk top publishing or legal/medical transcribing. Some secretaries will bring these skills home from their previous positions or from attending college or business school. Many secretaries pick up skills from hands-on experience.
Q. Should I quit my current job to work my home-based business?
No. It can take years to establish regular clientele. And there are things you must do before you can expect to go at it full time (i.e. register your business name if you have one, print up your business cards, prepare a portfolio (samples of your work), etc.). Even if you are not working now, you may need to take on a part-time job, or register with a Temp Agency, to help with your income. Others may prefer to start full-time.
Q. Will I need my own equipment?
Yes, as you’ll be providing a service from your own home office. The minimum required is: modern computer and current software, such as Microsoft Office, deskjet or laser printer, internet connection (cable would be preferable to dialup – but if it’s not available, then whatever you can get), phone and answer machine, decent furniture as you’ll be sitting a lot of hours at your desk.
Q. How do I get referrals?
After we receive your application which tells us what services you would like to offer, we add you to our members’ list and refer clients to you. Sometimes a potential client will ask for a specific secretary specialising perhaps, in a service such as bookkeeping, or desk top publishing. Locality isn’t always a requirement and you could be servicing clients in regional areas, interstate or overseas.
Q. What if there is someone already in my area?
Membership is not exclusive to location. Whilst some clients will go into the website and seek someone close by, many contact our office via phone or email with specific skillset needs rather than location needs. Having more than one member in a particular area is often better too – means existing members have nearby back up support when needed and it gives the client choices if location is important.
Q. Do I owe ‘A Clayton’s Secretary’ any money after the membership fee is paid?
No. When you take on a job, you do the work, collect and keep the money. Plus, if the customer is happy with your work, they’ll come back to you over and over again… and you will not have to send us any of the money from that work, other than our regular membership fee. Membership fees are renewed annually.
Q. How much money can I expect to make?
Everyone will make a different amount, because each will have different abilities and services available. Some who are just starting out may not make a profit for the first couple of years because they will be investing in equipment. Secretaries who do have the desire and will to stick with it, can make good incomes within the first five years in business. The more skills you have, the more you can make.
Remember too, even if you should join ‘A Clayton’s Secretary’ or place your own Yellow Pages advertising, your telephone is not going to ring every day from a new client. You may only receive one call now and then, however, just one call can turn into a regular customer bringing in thousands of dollars in work in the time that follows.
Q. Why should I join ‘A Clayton’s Secretary’ and not just go at it on my own?
At ‘A Clayton’s Secretary’, we recommend that each secretary place his/her own advertising. Our advertising isn’t the only way that you will get work. Those who are advertising often refer business back into the group. You are tapped into that advertising as well! You’ll get many more ideas about promoting your business via the group chat forum.
Q. Can we join as an organisation or company group?
As we expect to have the resumes of each member on file here it is preferred that only individuals join, or partnerships where an application and resume covers both partners. On occasion we might accept a small team as one membership but you will need to contact our office direct about this – we need to ensure we maintain our standards and ethics, and that resumes of all those who will respond to job leads are on file. Where a partnership or small team are accepted into membership, only one page will be made available with membership details as for all members. It is expected therefore that there would be one main phone number, fax number and email address for point of contact. We do not accept organisations as members – but individuals only.
Q. I’ve seen a number of Virtual Assistant Networks online. Is it worth joining any of them?
All of the VA associations have benefits that make it worthwhile joining them. And yes, you do need to look at the benefits each offer and weigh up what’s best for you.
It’s important to remember that belonging to one or more of these networks is just the same as belonging to a professional association in any other industry – some will help you develop yourself and your business more, others will help expose you to prospective clients. Some will give you the opportunity to mix and mingle with your peers (albeit virtually) and others have different resources available to you. Whatever the benefits they have, if there is a cost involved (and there is for many of the networks) the cost should be considered as part of either your advertising budget, or your professional development budget, or even both. Membership subscriptions are a taxable expense.
If you were an accountant, lawyer, builder or another industry or trade, you would be expected to make the most of your industry association, and pay the dues that relate to that association. As much as the moderators/owners/founders of the associations love the industry they represent and would like to offer free resources to all in that industry, it’s just not possible – there is time, skills, facilities, resources at play that also cost and needs to be distributed evenly amongst those who make use of that which is made available to them. If you are running your VA practice as a business, then you can claim the membership fee as a tax deduction.
Q. Should I allow the public to come into my home?
Addresses of members are kept strictly confidential. We do not give addresses out to clients or to the other members on the team. We only give out first names, telephone numbers and general locations. It is up to each member to decide whether or not to give out their address. Further information on this is sent to you on joining.
Q. What kind of clients can I expect to hear from?
Most of our referrals are from small business people (management consultants, trade advisors, business coaches, authors, speakers, church groups, clubs, membership-based associations, etc.) however, many larger businesses and organisations have used our services, including Uniting Church in Australia, Fire Safety International, Shield Mercantile, Telecom MobileNet, The Daughters of Charity, RLM Systems, Dotmar PBE, The CEO Circle, engineering companies, medical practices, legal firms, recruitment agencies, business coaches, professional speakers, councils, membership based associations and other organisations. We also receive calls from many individuals (contractors, writers, TV producers, actors and actresses, teachers, solicitors, doctors, ministers, students, private individuals and senior citizens).
Q. How do I work out my rates?
We assist with this once you are a member. Part of your membership pack includes a formula designed to help you work out rates that are right for you. A sample rates guide used by the Principal is also included in this pack.
Q. Do I have to register for an ABN, or GST or VAT or similar?
We cannot give you tax advice here – it differs for each country and for each person’s situation. We do advise that you get a good Accountant and speak to them about what is required for you to operate. There are some things that will be necessary and others that aren’t. A Clayton’s Secretary is not responsible for your personal tax requirements and we will accept membership from anyone who applies, providing they meet our criteria (see at the top of this page).
Q. How Should I Accept Payment?
Generally, payment should be made to either by cash or cheque. It would be wise to ask new clients to pay on completion of work, but as you get to know the client, you could choose to invoice them at the end of each month, particularly if they become regular clients. On joining, we will give you information regarding merchant accounts.
Current membership rates in Australian Dollars:
Regular – $75.00 (renewed annually)
Premium – $150.00 (renewed annually)
Premium extras $350 (renewed annually at $150)
Premium and Premium extras will receive the membership pack and materials, information on creating your web page for this site and other member benefits.
Fill out application form, pay online via our secure server or send a cheque or money order to:
‘A Clayton’s Secretary’, PO Box 2044, Belgrave LPO, Vic, Australia, 3160. Or you may fax your application form with credit card payment to +613 9754 6330. If you wish to EFT the funds, please contact this office for account details. Upon receipt of your payment, we will send you your first set of information which includes everything you need to get started as a member.
We cannot guarantee any amount of calls will come your way. All calls are a direct response to our advertising both online and in printed materials.
We cannot be responsible for any actions placed upon the secretary by the public.
Membership fees are not refundable. This is a membership based network. The fees for the network are used to maintain the membership, website and to send out materials to you when joining the team.
Please note that names and contact information, i.e. phone, fax and/or e-mail are given out to clients, but addresses are withheld. You may choose to give them more information, such as your address once doing business. Your contact information will not be given out to any other sources. We have a ‘no Spam’ policy.
Note: The above rates may be changed without notice from time to time.
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