August 18, 2007

WAHM Contest

I was just on one of the forums that I frequent (VANA) and found that one of my bestest friends is in a contest. Click on this link (WAHM Contest) and vote for Jennifer! She definitely deserves to win.

July 5, 2007

Do You Have a Disaster/Recovery Plan?

by Terry Green

Do You Have a Disaster/Recovery Plan?
With the recent onslaught of ice storms and flooding happening all over the US and Canada, as well as the hurricanes that ripped through Florida and the south earlier this year, many people are finding themselves faced with tremendous losses regarding both their homes and their offices. Most people have some type of homeowner's and business insurance to help rebuild and replace personal and business items, but what about your business records and critical files? If your office was destroyed today, would you be able to continue serving your clients and running your business, or would your business come to a complete halt? If you were sick or incapacitated, would anyone else know where to find important files on your computer? Is everything documented so someone could fill in for you until you were able to resume working?
Terence Kierans, Principal, Cyberspace Virtual Services, Western Australia made the following statement regarding a disaster/recovery plan while participating in an International Virtual Women's Chamber of Commerce (IVWCC) Meet & Greet. He said . . . “In essence it is an essential part of Business Continuity Management (BCM).This is not just about disaster recovery, crisis management, risk management or about IT. It is demonstrably a business issue. It is definitely an area where proactivity is the keyword - as in not shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.
It enables you to identify and manage those risks which could result in:
- Inaility to maintain services to your clients.
- Damage to your image or professional reputation.
- Failure to protect your business assets, tangible and intangible.
- Business control failure.
- Failure to meet legal or regulatory requirements.”
He then quoted The Business Continuity Institute, “Business Continuity Management is the act of anticipating incidents which will affect critical functions and processes for the organization and ensuring that it responds to any incident in a planned and rehearsed manner."
His comments sure made a lot of sense to me. Here are some of the things I thought of when considering a plan for my business.
• Take a complete inventory of my hardware; know what I have.
• Know where my CDs (software, backups) are located and keep them in a safe place.
• Know where the licenses are stored (keep a list as well).
• Take regular backups and test them occasionally. Make sure they are readable and that they are backing up the data I need.
• Rotate my backup media and always keep a copy off-site.
• Keep critical files in a safe place.
• Keep passwords, user names, etc. in a safe place. Document what I have.
• Keep a list of all clients, vendors, and who I use to help run my business, with current phone numbers, contacts and account numbers
• Know what my insurance will cover; keep contact names and policy numbers handy.
• Have an alternate place to conduct business in case of an office disaster.
• Have someone in place to fill in for me if I became ill or incapacitated in any way.
• Make sure I'm not the only one that knows all of the above information!
This is by no means a comprehensive list of things to consider when putting together a disaster/recovery or business continuity plan, but it should help to get you going in the right direction. Consider your individual business and what you need to do to stay in business should something unforseen happen.
So keep in mind, If disaster struck tomorrow, would you have everything in place to get everything back up and running in a short period time, or would your business be stopped dead in its tracks?
Copyright 2005 Terry L. Green, GVA
Terry L. Green, is a Graduate Virtual Assistant with more than 25 years of experience in executive and administrative support. Established in 1991, Fastype provides administrative support to small businesses, mobile executives, professional speakers, and life and business coaches. Terry produces "virtual work that matters" for her clients, and gives them the "gift of time" so that they can spend their valuable time on the more important issues that increase their bottom line and grow their businesses.
This article may be reprinted in its entirety as long as the copyright and bio remain intact, all links are active, and a copy is sent to the author. Terry can be reached by email: or via her website

July 3, 2007

Outsourcing and Virtual Assistants: Small Business Saviors

by Wendy Maynard

Work smarter, not harder
What is one of the best ways to work smarter without working harder? The answer is outsourcing. Whether you need occasional or ongoing assistance, outsourcing can save you money and time. Graphic designers, copywriters, bookkeepers, website programmers, office assistants, and other types of professionals are all readily available.
And, there’s a new way of hiring people – the World Wide Web connects independent professionals and small businesses that don’t need or want full-time help. Try typing “Virtual Assistant” into a search engine. You will find a vast array of online resources. According to the International Virtual Assistants Association,
    “A Virtual Assistant (VA) is an independent entrepreneur providing administrative, creative, and/or technical services. Utilizing advanced technological modes of communication and data delivery, a professional VA assists clients in his/her area of expertise from his/her own office on a contractual basis."
This means you can find a virtual assistant for almost any type of work. Are you a plumber who needs accounting? Or a professional speaker who needs help arranging your appointments? Perhaps you would like some help writing proposals, designing a new website, or sending out press releases. You can find someone online for all of these services.
For many “around the office” types of jobs, virtual assistants get paid $20 to $50 an hour. More specialized services such as programming, legal assistance, graphic design, or coaching can cost $75 to $125 an hour. This may sound expensive at first. However, if you are not in need of a person in your office 40 hours every week, it becomes a very cost-effective solution.
While I realize, costs fluctuate widely, let’s look at some sample numbers to compare the typical costs of maintaining an employee versus outsourcing:
    Sample costs of a full-time employee Employee Salary: $36,000/ $17.31/hr.·Two-week paid vacation: $1,385 to cover your employee’s role (more if a temp is hired)
    ·Health Insurance (employer portion for 12 mos.@$150): $1,800
    ·FICA Taxes (7.65%): $2,754
    ·Worker's Comp. (.61%): $220
    ·Unemployment (State & Fed): $309
    ·Misc. costs (Vision, Dental, Disability & 401K Matching, Profit Sharing & Stock Options): >$3,000
    ·Office Space, Equipment, and Software (100 sq. Ft. @ applicable rate): $2500 ($25/sq. ft. is conservative)
    ·Annual Bonus (1 mo. salary): $3000
    ·Sick Time (10 days/year): $1385
    ·Other intangible costs (furniture, testing, training & fees, sick children, etc.): $1200
    Total Typical Costs: $53,553/ $25.75/hr. total effective hourly rate at 100% productivity
At a 75% productivity level, this employee’s cost for actual work becomes $34.33/hour and at a 50% productivity level, it’s $51.50/hour. A full-time staff person is very unlikely to be 100% productive because of idle time, errands, tasks, personal matters, and a learning curve for certain functions. This is combined with an employer’s inability to generate work due to distractions, staff meetings, company functions, lack of time to delegate or supervise, and sales fluctuations.
So, depending on the productivity level of a full-time employee, you may be paying up to 3 times his or her actual salary! You do the math! What's the wise choice? Does an in-house employee save money? In most small businesses, this method simply is not the most cost effective.
Entreprenuer, get your life back!
Outsourcing will save you money, time, and energy. Virtual assistants and other out-of-office professionals own their own equipment with the latest software, they pay their own taxes and benefits, they are experts in their field, they don’t require morale building or training, and they aren’t going to bring their personal problems into your work space. Virtual assistants and outsourced professionals offer even more advantages: they are loyal to their client companies and will support your goals – they will help you generate ideas and allow you more time to make your business more profitable.
So, if you have employees that you are happy with, then of course that’s perfect for your business. Don't fix what ain't broke. However, if you find you are paying too much overhead or spending too much time managing, try a virtual assistant. If you need a new type of service, but don't have the in-house expertise, outsourcing is a great option. There’s a world of online help available at your fingertips.
Wendy Maynard, your friendly marketing maven, is the owner of Kinesis ( Kinesis specializes in marketing, graphic and website design, and business writing. You can visit her marketing blog, Kinetic Ideas at:
Want to harness the power of kinetic marketing? Sign up for Kinesis Quickies, a free bi-monthly marketing e-newsletter:

July 2, 2007

Bloggin' for VANA

Have you heard the news? Tawnya Sutherland, Founder of VANA, has decided to start a great new contest!

Why is she doing this contest?

We wish to spread the word about our network for Virtual Assistants and raise awareness for Virtual Assistants in the public realm. The more news we can get out about VAs, the more we will become a business/household name and the more our services will be in demand.
“I’ve read a ton of Virtual Assistant blogs and I love it when I hear that the Virtual Assistant Networking Association (VANA) is held high amongst its members and posted about often.” Tawnya Sutherland
We were wondering how we would thank people for their loyalty and friendship with us and now we’ve finally thought of a way.
To enter, just fill out the form below telling us the link where you either:
  • Blogged about VANA
  • Posted an article with VANA in the by-line
  • Submitted a Press Release mentioning VANA online
We'll choose winners on the 25th of each month. The lucky winners will then be notified how to receive their month's worth of Bronze Advertising at VANA.
Just go to the Contest Page and fill out the form telling Tawnya where you blogged about VANA. How simple is that?

June 8, 2007

Productivity Tip for Setting Priorities

Well, it's my turn. I was tagged!

Jennifer Gniadecki tagged me to come up with a "the ultimate productivity tip". The original tag came from Ben Yoskovitz on the Instigator Blog.

I think I've found a good one about setting priorities, which is very important in any business. SCORE has quite a number of tips for small businesses. Here are their 5 tips to setting priorities:

  1. Use a paper-based, electronic or computerized list to keep track of your tasks, instead of relying on your memory. A list will give you a clear idea of what you need to accomplish.
  2. Which tasks could you handle another day? If you would face no consequences by moving a task forward, move it ahead another day or another week.
  3. Know the difference between important and urgent. Important means a task needs to be done while urgent means it must be done immediately. Knowing the difference between the two will make prioritizing easier.
  4. Realize that you can't do everything. This will help you to realistically prioritize your tasks.
  5. Determine if postponing the task would affect other projects you are working on. Tasks and projects can have a domino effect. If you do one task, yet fail to do another, you may have wasted effort on the first task.
So, now that that's all's time for me to start some tagging. I am tagging Heather Jacobson and John Herman. I look forward to seeing your tips!

Here are the rules from the Instigator Blog:
  1. Write a post on your best productivity tips.
  2. Include links to other people that have written posts, or include their tips in your post with proper attribution.
  3. If you use Technorati Tags, then tag your post “ultimate guide to productivity.”
  4. Tag others in your post to spread the meme. Tag as many people as you like!
  5. If you link back to Instigator Blog and email Ben, he’ll be sure to include at least 2 links back to you.