Recently on a VA forum a member commented about her computer woes. There were some things that stood out to me as possible concerns and I responded as below. She’s since been in contact with me and filled in with a bit more detail so not everything I wrote was relevant to her situation but I thought the information is important for all to see. So, here it is:
First – were you not doing backups before? If you’re running a computer based business then backups are absolutely essential – they are your insurance for your bread’n’butter – which is your data. Even if just burning to CD any backup is better than none. Losing data can also cause you to lose your business – I know of people that has happened to.
Second – anti virus programs are essential for your business, as are backups. You just can’t afford to be without them. But I am curious as to whether it was an opening of an unsuspecting email, downloading of programs that brought trojans with it (which children are often prone to do and I never let kids on my computer ever. Just taking a guess here but if that’s happening, keep them off your computer) or something else?
Third, if you’re paying this guy cash can’t you still put it into your bookkeeping system? I do. I’ve set up an account I call Petty Cash and any items I pay cash for get entered into that account with money taken from my business account. You should be tracking all business expenses whether cash or not.
Fourth, if this guy is only taking cash it sounds to me like he’s operating under the radar as far as tax is concerned. If you do number three above chances are it’s going to put him in the highlight at some stage. Whether or not he’s cheap, in the long-run he could become an expense if it causes tax problems for you. You are better off going with someone who is operating legitimately – that is most important.
Fifth – it’s time you started to learn to do some things on your computer and get familiar with your systems and be able to detect when something isn’t right. You don’t need to be a progammer or understand how the hardware is put together but getting familiar with what’s normal and what’s not, and knowing what is important to have in place to protect your system and your business are all part of operating your business.
I encourage you to start networking locally – find business networks like BNI or similar so you can find good reliable business operators who can provide these kind of backup support services and someone who might be able to teach you some basics.
Develop good housekeeping practices for your computer – updating your antivirus daily (you can set the software to do that so start exploring), backing up regularly – daily or at least weekly, depending on how busy you are in your business, and learning how things like defrag work on your system.
If you are a new VA and haven’t yet considered good practices for the care of your computer and client data, then the above should help you get started. It’s never too soon to start good systems.
Kathie is the owner of VA Directory and is former past President of the Australian VA Association. She founded the Virtual Assistant industry in Australia in the mid 90s, having already been operating a home-based secretarial service. Today the VA industry covers a multitude of office-based services for clients worldwide.