Advertising Your Virtual Assistant Business on a Budget – Lesson Six – Test Everything

As much as is possible, you should always test your advertising and marketing efforts. You might want to jump in and try a range of different ideas and formats and that’s great, but try and keep tabs on where each enquiry comes from, and which enquiries go on to convert into paying customers.With this data to hand you can then look at has been cost effective and what has not. For example if you paid £500 to join a networking group and attended 50 breakfast meetings costing £10 each over the course of a year, and as a result you got one new client, that client would have cost you £1000 to source. If you put an advert in the UKAVA Directory for £49.95 and over a year that advert resulted in 5 new clients, each client has cost you less than £10 to source. In this scenario you may decide to drop the networking group and advertise more widely in the Directory.

The important point is that you can’t improve on what you don’t measure so if you don’t know what is working for you, and what is not, how can you expect to improve your results next time around?

Sometimes you may find that your lower cost advertising and marketing strategies are the ones that bring you the most business.

For a listing in the UKAVA Directory visit:

http://www.ukava.co.uk/html/join_the_uk_association_of_vir.html

Advertising Your Virtual Assistant Business on a Budget – Lesson Five – Online Presence

 It goes without saying that as a virtual assistant you need a website. But have you really thought about the best way to use it? Some visitors will arrive at your website as result of you telling them about it or seeing the URL on your business card or marketing material.What you really want though is the visitors who have arrived at your website because they are actually searching for a virtual pa. These are not just visitors these are prospects. They have actually gone to the trouble of going to a search engine and entering a relevant term into the search bar and are busy looking through the results to find someone they want to work with. So how do you make sure your website ends up in front of them?

Well search engine optimisation (SEO) companies charge a small fortune for ‘optimising’ your website in an attempt to make is appear at the top of that search engines results. And with good reason. The search engines constantly change their indexing criteria to keep out the spammers so the SEO companies have to consistently keep one step ahead. If you don’t have the budget to compete with the big players the best thing you can do is get listed on their websites. Visitors to their websites will then see your information and click through to your website.

There are several directories advertising virtual assistants and their services in the UK. Ours consistently appears on the first page of Google and can be found at http://www.ukava.co.uk/

Advertising Your Virtual Assistant Business on a Budget – Lesson Four – Press Releases

 Press Releases are useful for generating a buzz about your virtual assistant business. The business editor at your local newspaper will always be on the lookout for a good business story to fill the business news section of the newspaper.

Of course, the business editor understands the economics of running a paper and is more inclined to run your story if you buy advertising in his/her publication, but will still print
stories for special events and openings. Think of an angle, could you offer a competition prize, could you help a local charity.

The important thing to remember about Press Releases is that it must be constructed in the form of a news story. Even if you are a sole proprietorship, quotes from you should be written in a third person format: Jane Doe said, “Your quote here.”

A Press Release should pack the most important information at the beginning of the copy, and leave extra details towards the end.

You should always provide the reporter who gets the task a simple and easy way for him/her to contact you directly. Often the reporter will want to contact you to get details that will enhance their take on your story.

For more information about How To Do Your Own PR visit:

http://www.doyourownpr.com/SJSE-4500/products/do_your_own_pr_ecourse.asp

Advertising Your Virtual Assistant Business on a Budget – Lesson Three – Networking

If up until now you’ve been an employee, you might never have been to a networking event before. The whole idea is that everyone who goes along is a business owner or key decision maker in their business and is there, like everyone else, to promote their product or service. The beauty of networking is that if you attend groups regularly, people get to know and trust you and are happy to work with you if they need a virtual assistant or refer business your way.Now I could write a whole series on the subject of networking alone but these are the basics. If it is your first time networking I would initially go to an informal group as this will help you get your confidence and see how they work. Do an Internet search on networking and you town and you should find a whole range of groups in your area. Have a look for one that takes your fancy and book on. Most groups will let you attend one or two meetings before asking you to take out a membership so make full use of all the free trails until you find a group that you like. Some groups are free but you will find that those that charge a membership fee are often more formal business networking groups and produce more clients and referrals.

Again don’t forget that anyone you speak to may know someone who needs a virtual assistant so don’t dismiss anyone on first impressions and also remember that networking is two way so if you can put those you meet in touch with anyone they would be interested in, do it. You will be remembered for it and that’s the first step in getting referrals.

For more information about virtual assistants and pas visit: www.ukava.co.uk

VA Entrepreneurs Group – Your Last Chance To Find Out More

Tuesday 12th August is your last chance to take part in our free interactive group telephone call to find out more about the VA Entrepreneurs Group. This is your opportunity to hear all about this exciting and inspiring opportunity and ask all the questions you may have. In addition there is a special £250 bonus offer for everyone who attends the live call.

Do you:
Have big ambitions?

Want to have a 6 figure business?

Want more clients?

Want to work with a fantastic group of supportive people?

Register your interest now and we will send you the call info: http://www.vasuccessgroup.co.uk/vaeg.htm

Advertising Your Virtual Assistant Business on a Budget – Lesson Two – Referrals

Sometimes it’s not about whom you know, but about who they know. We’ve all heard the theory about the six degrees of separation, that you are only six people away from anyone you want to get to know. Well the same applies to business. The person you are talking to may not have any requirement for a virtual assistant but who do they know that might?If you make an impression on the person you are talking to they will remember you and possibly refer on to you anyone who may need your services. This is particularly true at networking events, which we’ll cover next time. But how can you make sure that they will remember you and refer you when appropriate. How about offering a referral fee?

A referral fee can be a gift or cash and is usually related to the amount a referred new customer spends. You only pay out on the referral if the potential new client signs up so you have nothing to lose. You may want to offer a free bottle of champagne or gift vouchers for each new referral or perhaps 10% of the first invoice total. It’s up to you but it can be a very effective way of getting your contacts to refer their contacts to you.

For more information about virtual assistants visit: www.ukava.co.uk

VA Success Group Launch Website Design and Hosting Packages for Virtual Assistants

Following the hugely successful launch over the last few weeks of their very useful Document Packs and the extremely exciting VA Entrepreneurs Group, the VA Success Group has this week launched another much needed virtual assistant product to their arsenal, Website Design and Hosting Packages for Virtual Assistants.

With an individually designed 6 page website from just £300 and hosting from as little as £6.99 per month it’s every start up virtual assistants dream. With none of the mystery and vagueness that so often surrounds website design, you get a great Internet presence with everything you need for one very affordable price.

Justine said “We wanted to offer an individually designed website at a reasonable price. So often when you are starting out as a Virtual Assistant the only options that are open to you are off the shelf template sites that are sold over and over again or a site designed by the friend of a friend who never really delivers what you want or simply takes forever. What we are offering allows the VA to have considerable design input so they can express their individuality and develop their branding, and with reasonable timeframes and an affordable price it’s a real winner.”

The hosting packages are scalable too, so when you want to launch your blog or add in a series of auto-responders you can. You can even add a shopping cart so you can have your own online shop.

 

For more information or to get your website underway please contact Emma or Justine on 0844 357 6279 or visit http://www.vasuccessgroup.co.uk/products.htm

Advertising Your Virtual Assistant Business on a Budget – Lesson One – Word Of Mouth

If you’ve just started out as a virtual assistant and you’ve done a piece of work for a client who is pleased with the results, they will talk about it. If you’ve completed a piece of work for a client and they had cause to complain, they will talk about it a lot more.

My advice in the early days is to under promise and over deliver. Think about how you can ‘delight’ your customer. What can you add or improve that would really ‘wow’ them? Could you deliver the work early, could you suggest some ideas that might improve it, could you put them into contact with a potential new client that you know? Anything that is seen as going the extra mile and helping your client within their business will be appreciated. When they thank you for it, ask them if they know anyone else who might need your services. Put it in their mind that you are looking for new clients in this way and they may send you referrals. More on referrals next time!

 For more information about virtual assistants visit: www.ukava.co.uk

Calling All Virtual Assistants – A Brand New and Unique Programme to Totally Transform Your Business

Do you want to have a six figure income but wondered how on earth to get there? Do you dream living the entrepreneur life and working when and where you want to, safe in the knowledge that your business is still growing and thriving without you? If you have big ambitions and are prepared for an exciting and challenging journey, you need to be part of the VA Entrepreneurs Group. This is a unique and exclusive development group of seriously ambitious VAs designed to help you achieve the loftiest of business goals.

From joint ventures and strategic alliances to outsourcing and leveraging your time, join us to make them a reality. To learn the secrets of how we can help you create YOUR perfect VA business visit http://www.vasuccessgroup.co.uk/vaeg.htm today. Places are strictly limited so don’t miss out!

For more information please contact Emma or Justine on 0844 357 6279 or visit www.vasuccessgroup.co.uk

Practical and Invaluable New Document Packs for Virtual Assistants

Following the launch this week of the VA Success Group by Justine Curtis (My Virtual Assistant and UKAVA) and Emma Walker (CKPA) today sees the launch of the first in a range of totally new practical business building tools, the VA Success Groups Document Packs.From terms and conditions and contracts for both clients and associates, to client satisfaction surveys and policy manuals it’s all there. Bundled in convenient packages, and available for a fraction of the cost of hiring a solicitor, Virtual Assistants can now get their hands on all the essential documentation they need to run their businesses.

Emma said, “These Document Packs are ideal for start ups and established Virtual Assistants alike. There are all the basics for those just setting up such as Client Contracts and Welcome Packs and more advanced information for established VAs like Associate Contacts and Policy Manuals. There really is something for everyone”.

Justine added, “We are launching with a great competition where you can win the Document Pack of your choice, so what ever stage you are at with your business, it’s a terrific prize”.

Entry is free and the winner will be drawn on 31st July 2008.

What are you waiting for? Visit http://www.vasuccessgroup.co.uk/ to enter now!

Create YOUR Perfect Virtual Assistant Business

VA Success GroupTwo of the Biggest Players in the UK Virtual Assistant industry have joined forces and this week launch the VA Success Group, a totally new and unique range of products and services to help you create the Virtual Assistant business you’ve always dreamed of.Justine Curtis, Director of her own successful VA practice My Virtual Assistant Limited (http://www.my-va.com/) and founder of the UK Association of Virtual Assistants (http://www.ukava.co.uk/) an organisation set up to raise awareness of the role of virtual pas, provide a Directory of UK Virtual Assistants and an information resource for both VA’s and their clients has teamed up with Emma Walker, another hugely successful VA and owner of CKPA Office Solutions (http://www.ckpa.co.uk/). A true entrepreneur, Emma also became involved with The Athena Network in June 2007 bringing the women’s networking group to the Black Country.

Emma said, “We are really excited to be launching such a unique service to new and established Virtual Assistants throughout the UK. We wanted to offer practical business building tools and services to help VAs create their perfect business without having to go through the steep learning curve that we did. It’s amazing that they can now benefit from our years of hands on experience”.

So is this just another training course? “Absolutely not” says Justine “this is unlike anything else available”.

The hub of all the activity is the web site at http://www.vasuccessgroup.co.uk/ where exclusive products and services are being added as soon as they are released. Justine said, “The best decision you can make for your business today is to go over to the web site and sign up for the free newsletter. That way you’ll be the first to know what’s happening and be best placed to take advantage of some very special limited offers”. To sign up for the newsletter visit: http://www.vasuccessgroup.co.uk/

Justine added, “We are also running a spectacular competition where you can win some incredible business development tools”. What are you waiting for? Visit http://www.vasuccessgroup.co.uk/ now!

Advertising Your Virtual Assistant Business on a Budget

When you are starting out as a Virtual Assistant and no one knows who you are or what you do, one of the biggest challenges you will face is how to drum up new business.

You probably have already done some research and already know that there are people who need your services or you would not have started your business in the first place. But once you have spoken to those you already know who may need you, your next task is to find others who will help you make your business a success. At this point most people turn to advertising. If I had a pound for every VA that has said to me, ‘There’s a little local magazine that comes through my door each month. Should I advertise in it?’ I wouldn’t have to run a VA business myself; I could retire on the proceeds. The answer, by the way, for many reasons is no. There are many better ways to spend your limited advertising and marketing budget.

It is a misconception that you have to spend lots of money to advertise your Virtual Assistant business. Unless you have some sort of financial backing, it is unlikely that you will have a huge budget so it’s better to get a little bit creative and use what you have wisely.
 
In the rest of this series, I will be letting you in on a few tips and some of the lessons I’ve learned on how to advertise your virtual assistant business on a budget.

 For more information about Virual Assistants visit: www.ukava.co.uk

The Average Employee Spends 95 Minutes a Week Surfing The Net

The CBI announced this week that the average employee spends 95 minutes a week surfing the Internet for personal use at a cost to the economy of £10.6bn a year.

Its research showed that while many organisations are supportive of staff visiting non-work related websites, and view it as a motivational perk or a modern-day tea break, others are troubled by the amount of use, or have had to sack staff for serious abuse.

The survey of 503 organisations, which together employ over one million workers, also revealed that nearly two-thirds (60%) of employers think staff regularly use office time outside of lunch hours and formal breaks to look at non-work sites, like those involving social networking, web email, shopping and holidays.

Employers across the public and private sectors estimate that 4.4% of working time is lost in this way, which accounts for 95 minutes a week, or ten days a year, at an average annual cost of £939 per employee.

So if potential employers want to get an extra 10 days a year of real work from each member of their team, isn’t it about time they thought of employing a Virtual Assistant? As we all know, with a virtual assistant you only pay for the hours worked on your business, no personal web surfing, no downtime, no holiday pay, sickness pay, maternity pay, training or equipments costs. What do you think?

Source: CBI.Org

Spare Room Start Up by Emma Jones

 Spare Room Start Up by Emma Jones is a friendly and stylish, full colour guide which focuses on the specific issues that affect home business start ups.Have you ever dreamt of starting your own business? Dreamt of working from home, a ten second commute, the flexibility to work when you want to, and the joy of being your own boss? This book can show you how to turn those dreams into reality in just a few simple steps.

With serial entrepreneur and home business expert Emma Jones as your guide, you will discover just how easy it is to start and run a successful business from your spare room.

Organised by three key themes – business, lifestyle and technology – Spare Room Start Up provides you with simple solutions and demonstrates the ease and low cost with which a home business can be started. Find out how you too can enjoy the rewards of running a home business whilst leading a happier and healthier life.

Advice and suggestions are interspersed with quick tips, illustrations and real life case studies from successful home business owners. Uncover the lighter side of working from home as well as the benefits and rewards of becoming a Spare Room Start Up!

Get your exclusive discount here:
http://books.global-investor.com/books/254182.htm?ginPtrCode=22138

Offer Your Clients the Very Best with a Typing or Audio Certification

With the use of Virtual Assistants increasing rapidly in the UK, businesses looking to outsource are becoming ever more savvy as to what a VA can offer and what to look for when choosing a VA.  So how do you make sure they choose you?Your service list, experience and client testimonials are all good ways to demonstrate to a potential client, however, qualifications and certifications also show that you are measurably and provably competent in the certified skill.

With word processing and digital transcription being a core service for many VAs, it would seem that one way to get noticed is to become certified (if you aren’t already).

With that in mind, Tesla Typing was created to provide its customers with a recognised typing and audio certifications that the end user can take online and receive a professional certificate from, upon completion.

You can choose the type of test you wish to become certified in, have one free practice test, take three evaluated and scored tests and then choose the best one for your certification.

Tesla Typing, is the first online tester of typing and audio skills, of its kind, in the world, and can also guarantee the quality of their service with ISO certification. 

Not only that but the price for one test is just £9.95 – extremely good value for money considering the competitive advantage it will give you and the reassurance to your clients that they are working with one of the best!

To find out more visit: www.teslatyping.co.uk and register to take your test now.

Ecademy VAC Club and Finding Potential Clients

So now you’ve joined up you need to know how to get the most out of Ecademy.
(If you still haven’t joined you can do it here: http://www.ecademy.com/?xref=103223)

Firstly you need to spend a bit of time completing your profile. It’s a cliché, but a true one, that people do business with people, not faceless businesses. Upload a photograph, write your ’50 Words’ and put a bit of your personality into it. I’ve previously got business through the fact that ‘yoga’ and ‘horses’ were contained in my 50 words, not because they have any relevance to my business, but because the persons reading the profile identified that we have something in common and that moved them to contact me over a competitor. Do bear in mind that in this profile you are trying to present a professional image so avoid anything that may be misconstrued by your clients, for example, how many times have you read a CV and found under hobbies ‘socialising with friends’? An employer might interpret this as ‘gets drunk and turns up to work with a hangover’ and so might a potential client. Also consider that these profiles can end up being listed in Google, great if you remember to include a link to your web site as Google loves inbound links to web sites (more info), but worth remembering that anyone who ‘Googles’ you may see this profile.

Once you’ve completed your profile you need to join some clubs. Firstly, of course, you need to join the Virtual Assistant Club, not run by the UKAVA or me but by fellow VA Kerry Anne Orr who does a sterling job of welcoming newcomers and keeping us all in order. The VA Club is a great place to start networking with other VA’s, are you looking for associates for holiday or sickness cover for example, and to find out what’s going on in the industry. Join up, click on the Forum button and introduce yourself – you’ll find a warm welcome: http://www.ecademy.com/module.php?mod=club&c=4450

Next I would suggest you find a local Ecademy club. Local clubs usually meet up monthly for face-to-face networking and you can also access the list of club members, great for introducing yourself and making contact either prior to or post face to face networking events. Under the search tab (under My Settings and Help on the right of the page) select Clubs and search for your town or city. Then keep your eye on the club to see when the next networking meeting is taking place and get along to it.

Finally I suggest you join some clubs that relate to your niche. Now this is a bit of a trade secret and I’m not sure if I should be sharing it but now it’s too late now! Again under the search box, search for clubs and enter a word relevant to your target customer, see what groups appear and join some. Before making any posts in these groups, read the Home page of the club to make sure of the etiquette. Some are business clubs and are therefore happy for you to tout for business, others are more for information sharing and they will frown upon you openly asking for referrals or advertising your services in an upfront way. When you know what you can and cant post, get in there and start networking with your niche.

To find out more and claim your free basic membership, visit: http://www.ecademy.com/?xref=103223

Networking With Virtual Assistants AND Potential Clients

We all know we should network and most of us manage to attend some events and network a bit online through various groups. We also like to have a bit of a chat with other virtual assistants to find out what is going on in the industry, occasionally pick their brains and share experiences. With Ecademy you can do both. In the comfort of your own home in front of your pc you can network with both potential clients and fellow VA’s. It’s simple and free to join and you can join clubs such as Virtual Assistants Club and others related to your client niche.

Sign up today and stay informed of all the VA industry’s latest news and find yourself some new clients while you’re there!

For more information, visit: http://www.ecademy.com/?xref=103223

Networking – Using Your Web Site

Most of us know that in order to attract new business through our web site, it has to be professional, attractive and present all the information our potential clients need, or do we? 

A web site is your tool for presenting your business. You network online and offline, you hand out cards with your web site address on, you include your web site address in all your offline marketing information, advertisements, flyers, leaflets, headed paper etc. You do, don’t you?

The logical first step for any potential client is to check out your web site before picking up the phone to you to make an enquiry. In many cases this can be as far as the enquiry goes. Until you meet your potential clients in person, your web site is the only representation of your business they see, so if its looking a little bit out of date, is missing some vital information (pricing, customer testimonials?) or has (gasp) spelling or grammatical errors, what impression does that give about you and the quality of your work?

A full Web Site Audit from Enable UK is certainly a really good start at getting your web site into shape, and once you are happy that its giving a great impression of you and your business, don’t forget to include it everywhere: The ‘signature’ at the bottom of your emails, all of your printed materials, a sign for the window of your car, sign up for Smart Stamp from Royal Mail and add your web site address and strap line to your postage label, everywhere and anywhere you can think of.

For more ideas and guidance, why not download the series of Internet Marketing Guides from Enable UK?

For more information, visit:
http://www.enable-uk.co.uk/html/diy_internet_marketing_guides.html

 

Simple Inexpensive Legal Documents to Protect Your Business and Your Clients

It was such a relief when I found this resource that I though it was about time I let you all in on a little secret. If like me you have an incomprehensible but still very real fear of solicitors, not only because you don’t understand half of their jargon, but also because before you walk through the door you know its going to be expensive, this web site is a little gem. Clickdocs produce a whole range of business documents for use by businesses based in England, Wales and Scotland from Terms and Conditions and Confidentiality Agreements to standard formatting and detail of what must be included in your Invoices. If you’re thinking of setting up as a Limited Company there are forms for this as well as advice on the differing legal entities for businesses. You can find a whole range of other documents you may also find useful including standard agreements for property letting, wills, power of attorney and financial agreements. There is practically a form for every eventuality and when they start from less than £5 and are emailed to you instantly, what could be more cost effective and convenient.

For more information about the range of documents on offer visit:

http://www.ukava.co.uk/html/inthenews_feb_08.html

New and Improved Services from the UKAVA

At the UK Association of Virtual Assistants, our continued investment in Internet Marketing has meant that the UKAVA generates a large amount of pre-qualified traffic to our web site, which in turn results in leads for our members. If you have an Enhanced Listing in our Virtual Assistant Directory these potential clients end up on your web site. But now we have introduced a FREE service for prospective Virtual Assistant clients to look for the perfect VA to suit their needs.

Prospects can now complete a short online form giving details of the work they have available and this information is emailed to all our members allowing you the chance to pick and chose who you want to work with. This means that you will be able to put your proposals direct to would-be clients through out the UK and Worldwide, not just those within your local area – we do work virtually after all! It also means that that you can tender for work as and when you need it. So if you’ve just lost your biggest client, or you’re just starting up and looking for your first clients, now is the time to start putting in those proposals!

If you are already a member of the UKAVA keep an eye on your email inbox for these alerts and if you’re not already a member, click on the link below to find out all the benefits membership brings.

http://www.ukava.co.uk/html/join_the_uk_association_of_vir.html

Virtual Assistants Networking Like Crazy at New Google Group

UKAVA Google Group

Yesterday saw the launch of the UK Association of Virtual Assistants Google Group. A user group or forum was something that had been in the pipeline for a while here at the UKAVA but we wanted a group that could be open to everyone, newbies and veterans alike. The group is free to join and participate in and boy have you all grabbed it by the horns. There I was yesterday sitting in my Google Group all alone and today, BAM, virtual assistants are coming from everywhere and all crazily networking to find complimentary skills, telephone answering services, transcription services, holiday cover – you name it. What are you waiting for? Get over there and join in!

http://groups.google.com/group/uk-association-of-virtual-assistants

MyOffice – EverythingYou Need, When and Where You Need It

Working virtually can be a challenge when it comes to managing diaries, checking email (both yours and your clients), sharing files and details of contacts, etc. Wouldn’t it be lovely if it could all be in one place where both you and your clients, and your associates if you have them, could access what you need, when you need it, anywhere in the world from any computer? Now you can.

MyOffice is a subscription based internet-hosted ‘virtual office’ designed for small and medium-sized businesses. It combines diaries / calendars, contacts, tasks, email, file store, reminders and notes into an integrated suite of collaboration tools to help you keep in touch with your colleagues.

Using MyOffice you can share diaries / calendars, manage your contacts, access your email from anywhere, organise and schedule tasks, store files, and much more. You don’t need any technical expertise or a huge financial outlay. My Office takes care of all operational aspects including security, round-the-clock support, software upgrades, server administration, and data backup … leaving you with more time to concentrate on the important things – like running your business!

Sign up for a free 30-day trial or purchase now for our fantastic Two for One offer. Buy one license for just £45 for a whole year and get another one absolutely free. That’s one for you and one for your client.

For more information, visit: http://www.myoffice.net/index.aspx?agentreferrer=ukava

VA Conference and Awards 2008

This years VA Conference and Awards started with a bang for those of us able to make the drinks reception on the Friday night. Then what a fantastic day! We had four brilliant and inspiring speakers this year and lots of chance to network and put faces to names.

Congratulations to everyone who entered the awards. I was one of the judges this year, representing the UK Association of Virtual Assistants, along with along with Jacky Workman of the IAVA, Gillian Richmond of EUMA and Linda Barton of IQPS. I’m delighted to say that out of the four finalists in the Awards, two were already members of the UKAVA and a third has since joined. Congratulations go to: Susan Moore of Moore VA and Emma Walker of CKPA in the Over 18 months in business category, and in the Under 18 months in business category well done to Sam Cannell of Versatile Assistant and Shelly McCaughey of Fultus. Brilliant work ladies.

GVEZHV7RJEKE

Mother At Work Awards 2008

In case any of you are looking to say thanks to an employer or get recognition for a friend or have a business as well as being a busy mum, then the mother@work Awards are for you! They’ve just opened and the categories are:

Employer of the Future – for an employer with a great attitude to working mums (over and above statutory requirements) and their needs while making sure the business benefits

Best people manager – for a manager who has shown a great understanding of your needs as a working mum and gone out of their way to help you

Best Mumpreneur – for a mum who successfully runs her own business, whatever size. The winner gets a complimentary entry to the national business awards (normally £175)

Best Family Support – a chance for a working mum to say thanks to her family and win them a weekend break with Luxury Family Hotels

Most Exceptional Working Mother – for a working mum who has overcome obstacles or setbacks in her life.

You can read more about them and enter here: http://www.motheratwork.co.uk/awards-08/. Closing date for entries is April 11th. 

Taking Virtual Working To The Extreme

Justine Updating the Blog onboard EmeraldMy Virtual Assistant and UKAVA founder Justine Curtis was recently given the opportunity to realise a lifelong ambition to take part in the ARC yacht race across the Atlantic. As a marketing and PR expert, Justine was invited along to keep the world informed of the boats exploits by way of a blog and to liaise with the press both at the start of the race in Gran Canaria and at the end in St Lucia on behalf of green energy company Voller.

Justine is the Director and Business Development Manager of My Virtual Assistant a company offering PA and business support services to entrepreneurs and small businesses throughout the UK. She is also the founder of the UK Association of Virtual Assistants, an organisation set up to raise awareness of the role of virtual assistants (VAs) and provide information and advice for both VAs and their clients.

Voller Energy, a company that develops portable fuel cells, offered Justine the exciting opportunity to take part in the 2007 ARC Race. A fuel cell had been installed on their yacht Emerald for testing purposes and Justine’s role was to feed back throughout the race on the fuel cells performance and general conditions of life at sea under blue water racing conditions. Whilst this was a great opportunity, it would also mean 4 weeks away from her desk and Justine was keen not to let her existing My Virtual Assistant clients down or leave her business unattended. Although there was a satellite phone on the boat and therefore an Internet connection, all be it a very slow and expensive one, what she actually did is what every virtual assistant advocates, she handed over all the work that she could to another virtual assistant.

Justine said “It worked brilliantly, I spent a little time before I left going through all the possible scenarios with my associate VA Carol and putting together a cheat sheet of everything she might need to know and then left her to it. While I was away I had a temporary email address that I could check each day and if anything cropped up out of the norm, Carol could ask me what to do. It meant I could relax and enjoy the trip without worrying what was happening with my business or that of my clients and when I came back, for the first time ever after a break, everything was in order and I only had a days worth of email to deal with instead of the usual bursting inbox. Now I know why my clients appreciate leaving their businesses in capable, professional hands!”

The race was an eventful one with very rough weather conditions, many boats being damaged and several abandoned but Vollers Emerald made it to St Lucia relatively unscathed and the fuel cell performed brilliantly. The crew had an exciting crossing learning to catch fish, cook, eat and sleep on a boat that’s constantly lurching from 45 degrees one way to 45 degrees the other and enduring a series of shocks at 7Gs. They were delighted to finally arrive all in one piece to an eagerly anticipated rum punch and just in time for Christmas.

To read the blog of the crossing visit: http://blog.mailasail.com/emerald
Resources: Justine Curtis is the founder of My Virtual Assistant, a virtual office service operating across the UK, providing virtual office support, personal assistance, secretarial services, administration and business support services remotely from its UK based office.
For more information visit www.my-va.com

Justine is also the founder of the UK Association of Virtual Assistants (UKAVA) an organisation dedicated to raising awareness of the role of virtual assistants and providing information and advice for both virtual assistants and their clients. For more information visit www.ukava.co.uk

My Virtual Assistant and UKAVA Assists BBC Live and Learn and Gets New Start Up on the Road to Success

My Virtual Assistant and UKAVA founder Justine Curtis was recently called upon by the BBC to give advice to a virtual business start up taking part in their Live and Learn series. As a successful virtual business owner herself, Justine was asked to pass on the benefit of her experience and expertise to a young mum setting up her own virtual marketing company.

Justine is the owner of My Virtual Assistant (www.my-va.com) a company offering PA and secretarial services to entrepreneurs and small businesses virtually from her home office in the UK. She is also the founder of the UK Association of Virtual Assistants, (www.ukava.co.uk) an organisation set up to raise awareness of the role of virtual assistants (VAs) and provide a one-stop shop for information and advice for both VAs and their clients.

The BBC’s Live and Learn program focused on Claire, a young mum setting up her own virtual Internet marketing company. At the time she was introduced to Justine by the BBC, Claire was in the initial stages of setting up her company and was keen to learn the next steps, how to build her client base and how to let the world know her business existed. In a filmed meeting that took place on a chilly day in February in Basingstoke, UK, Claire was given the opportunity to ask all her burning questions. Justine freely gave advice about how to approach previous and existing contacts, how to network for new contacts and various organisations that could help her. She also gave advice on the importance of marketing your web site when your business is virtual and how best to go about it. At the end of the meeting Claire took on board the advice about networking and began by taking Justine’s business card in case she thought of any more questions she’d like to ask in the future.

The whole interview can be seen on the BBCs Live and Learn series, presented by Melinda Messenger, and can be viewed on BBC Interactive by pressing the red button.

Resources: Justine Curtis is the founder of My Virtual Assistant, a virtual office service operating across the UK, providing virtual office support, personal assistance, secretarial services and administration services remotely from its UK based office. For more information about Virtual Assistants visit www.my-va.com.

How to Get Involved With Social Media – LinkedIn

LinkedIn is more of a business networking tool than strictly a social one. It is structured in such a way that your occupation and education are featured more than hobbies and interests for example. However, it works in much the same way as Facebook in that you can invite people to connect with you and join common interest groups. It also has a feature where you can recommend people so it’s great for asking for testimonials.

For lots of advice and free tips, check out the FREEBIES page at the VA Success Group