Tag Archives: Information

What’s So Interesting about Data Entry?

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Data entry is one of the services I offered in my virtual assistant business, Virtual Colleague, LLC. While it appears as simplistic, data entry and an integral part of any business. Data entry is important for two reasons. First, it is a list of names, dates, amounts, descriptions, and other information pertinent to the business. Businesses thrive on lists of information. Lists are necessary to target customers, record what is the top seller, and other information.

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The second important feature of Data entry is the realtime update of information. Data entry lists are updated almost immediately. They’re in invaluable source of information and can be access with one click. That’s why I offer Data entry as a service. It is vital to most businesses, yet it is something that is simple to do, time consuming, and repetitive in nature. Fast typing and getting it done quickly is easy money, but accuracy is expected and errors are inexcusable. While most virtual assistants shy away from typing long lists of information, it is part of the brain of the business. This information is used for marketing, promotions, selective offerings, surveys and other business ventures.

typing

As a virtual assistant, I do a lot of typing and I give myself a typing test every month, just to make sure that I am in top form and not getting lazy with my strokes. It is also good for hand-eye coordination. Dexterity is important, when working in Data entry or figures. It saves a lot of corrections and brings a rhythm to the project.

Not to be confused with transcription, data entry is the creation of a list of information provided by the business or its clients. Transcription is typing words or figures that is created from some type of voice mechanism. Transcription involves additional equipment. Projects are transmitted online through special software programs. Then there is the foot pedal. This is connected to the computer, so the transcriptionist or virtual assistant can control the speed of the voice recording. It may be necessary to replay or slow down the speed, so the foot pedal is essential.

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Both data entry and transcription are similar, but data entry is a more relaxed style of working. Transcription definitely requires specific equipment and rates are charged by the minute instead of by the hour. Data entry depends more on eyesight, but transcription relies on good listening.

Every time you receive an email or advertisement in the mail, you know your name and contact information is included on someone’s business list. As a virtual assistant, I think of all the opportunities for my business, when I receive one of these emails or mail. That’s why data entry should be part of most virtual assistant businesses. It is easy to do. You can always check your accuracy against the list provided, and it is a constant source of work for your business.

If you would like to know more about my virtual assistant business, Virtual Colleague, LLC, please click here.

 

 

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RESEARCH VERSUS WEB RESEARCH

As a virtual business assistant, I do research on almost everything I work on. For my own business, I research my competition, rates, offers, services, and many more things. I like doing research, because it’s a learning tool. I always learn new information and ideas, when I’m researching.

I always research with a purpose.

Because researching is fun and interesting, I could spend many hours just looking up and reading, but that doesn’t get me where I need to go. I always research with a purpose – a clear purpose. That keeps me focused on what information I need to find and prevents me from wasting time reading information that I don’t really need to know.

Blog Search Engine

Web research is the most expedient way to find information.

 It’s fast and links to other pertinent information. It’s better than reading a book or magazine to extract information. Web research has all if not most of the information at the push of a button and the copy and paste feature ensures that I’ve captured the source and quote correctly.

Researching for my clients helps me to understand their businesses, products and services, and what makes them unique or stand out from the rest. I put myself in their shoes and look at their business offerings. Then I try to find the differences between the businesses themselves, the products and services, and their target markets. All of this factors into the way I research, the depth of research, and the type of research I perform.

Man posstive negative

For comparison research, the method and time involved is minimal, but for research that compares other businesses with my clients business. It is a long and tedious process. I have to not only find the information, but also verify that it is real and true. Many website today post information about other companies, but is it true? Maybe yes, maybe no.

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It falls to me to provide accurate and honest information to my clients. They depend on me to site my sources and to provide multiple accounts of the same information. Businesses that take the easy way of researching or failing to verify the information, run the risk of losing their credibility and over time, the business usually dissolves for lack of trust and honesty.

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Researching also provides me with an education. I may not always have an interest in the topic I’m researching for a client, but I will learn about it anyway. Who knows, somewhere down the road, I may need to use this new information for another client. I have to put myself in my client’s shoes, so I immerse myself in the research needed to provide reliable information for marketing and blogging purposes. When it’s an interesting topic, the time flies by, and I’m entertained. When it’s a little more intricate or technical, I have to put my full concentration on it and look up any words or terms I’m not familiar with.

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Contact me at Virtual Colleague, LLC for a free consultation on how I can research for your business and products/services.

 Toll Free #: 401-384-0257

Local #: 401-595-0087

Email: JPlante@VirtualColleagueLLC.com

 

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DOCUMENT PREPARATION

document preparationWhat is meant by “document preparation”?

Question mark

It means different things to different people.

  • It can mean simply correcting grammar and spelling mistakes
  • Making sure the correct punctuation is used
  • Formatting the document without any corrections, but adhering to margins and pre-set formatting styles
  • It can also mean that you, as the document preparer, have to take a series of sentences and place them in logical order, incorporating good grammar and punctuation, and creating a visually-pleasing documentcolor-chart

Document preparation is all of the above and more.

Along with a firm command of the language and its parts, the visual is also important. There must be enough “white space” to make the document appeal to the average person. Small fonts, fancy fonts, and long paragraphs make the document difficult to read and/or comprehend.

Speaking of understanding and comprehension, technical, foreign, or archaic words add to the confusion and not many readers will take the time to look up their meanings. Words highlighted in a light color may be difficult for some people to read. On the other hand, you don’t want to BOLD AND CAPITALIZE too many words. It implies you’re shouting at the reader.

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What’s the best method to prepare a document?

Ask who the target audience is. Is it the elderly, who need larger fonts? Is it the younger generation, who are already familiar with the information in the document? Is it a company document meant for internal use only or is it meant for the general public? Knowing this, will make document preparation much easier.

Does your client have a pre-set format or do they “wing it” depending on the document? Do they use a color scheme or color-coding to enhance their marketing materials? Most companies use a few select fonts, so customers will recognize their brand.

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Virtual Colleague, LLC

As owner of Virtual Colleague, LLC, I offer document preparation as part of my list of services. Before I sign with a client, I ask all of the above questions and more. I need to know up front, if I’m working from a draft or a finished copy. If it is a final copy, has the entire copy been approved or is there room for change?

This information is important for two reasons. 1) It gives me an idea of how much time I have to spend on this project and 2) it determines the fee I charge for this service.

painter

Artist and Canvas

As a document preparer, I am like an artist. The paint (words) were made by someone else, but the finished picture (the document) is a reflection on me. I can’t afford to do shoddy work or use the same format for every document. Each document is different and is meant to convey a different message by way of visual and presentation. It is my job as document preparer to capture the essence and tone of the document. This service is no different from the other services I offer.

Quality should always come before quantity.

Do you need document preparation? Check out my website www.VirtualColleagueLLC.com for more information about me and my work.

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WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO LEARN?

Learn

The opportunity to learn new things is everywhere and yet, we sometimes have difficulty learning something new. Why does this happen? Did you know there are three ways to learn? Now I’m not talking about reading, hands-on, or visuals. I’m talking about the medium needed to learn. Let’s take them one at a time.

Internet

The Internet

Most of us use the internet. This is a great way to learn almost anything. There are free websites with step-by-step instructions or paid programs that walk you through the whole process and answer your questions. Some sites even suggest books to read, so you can become proficient at what you want to learn.

REading

Reading

Speaking of the internet, the internet uses the three forms of learning. Reading is key to learning anything on the internet. The internet is mostly comprised of words, with photos, and videos making up the balance.

If you’re a good reader, you can ingest volumes of information about anything just by reading. Some words are highlighted and linked to their definitions, so clicking on them will give you an immediate definition, but if you’re a visual learner, this is where the second form of learning comes into play.

 Videos

Visuals/Videos

The second form of learning is using visuals. Visuals can be photos, images, or videos demonstrating what you are trying to learn. This is a great way to learn how to decorate cakes, do arts and crafts, create holiday decorations, hairstyles, or anything you create by hand.

This form of learning is for people, who don’t like to read or have difficulty reading. Some people are just geared to learning this way and they can easily watch and learn at the same time and need very little outside help. They simply follow the visuals and achieve the same results. While this is a fast and easy way to learn, not everything we want to learn is available on video and a video or visual is very limited as to information. A visual gets you from start to finish, but isn’t capable of describing all of the details, tips, and tricks you should know. That kind of information is found in books or on the internet, where you have the space to read about certain subjects in depth.

Skills

Your Skills Solve Problems

The third kind of learning occurs when you don’t read or watch visuals, but use your intuitive skills to figure out how to do something. For example, suppose you want to re-create a certain hairstyle. You look at the photo, but there are no videos or written instructions to tell you how to do it. You simply use your skills to figure out which steps to take. This is usually the “trial-and-error” method, but it does bring results. Most people using this type of learning are truly “hands-on” in their approach to problems or issues. They get totally involved in the mental process of figuring out where to go or what to do to solve the problem. They don’t quit until they’ve figured out what to do and get the correct results.

Important

So Why Is This Important?

As virtual business owners, we have to be able to master all types of problems or issues. Things like software programs, hardware issues, telephone issues, and decisions about how to set up our offices and what furniture and tools we need. If you’re a reader, you can sit and read the solutions to most of your business problems. If you’re a visual/video learner, you can watch how to solve certain problems and replay as many times as necessary to get the end result.

If you simply don’t have patience to use the above methods, you can simply get into whatever your problem is by trial-and-error and fix it or make it better. This may take time, but your mental focus and memory will serve you well.

Path

Each Of These Methods Are Equal

There is no right or wrong way to learn or solve problems. The best way is the way that works for you. Sometimes you may use more than one method or you may stick to the way that works best for you. In any case. as a virtual business owner, you must find a way or ways to handle, manage, and maintain all of the tools needed to make your business profitable and grow.

 

What is the best way for you to learn new things?

 

Virtual Colleague LLC

 

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REPETITION IS THE MOTHER OF KNOWLEDGE

 

RepetitionI wrote about this about a year ago, but I feel it is an important part of the learning process, so I’m writing about it again.  I recently started an online course. From time to time, I take online courses to keep myself sharp and learn new things, but this course is directly related to my virtual assistant business, Virtual Colleague, LLC.

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The course I’m taking will make me a better writer, because it focuses on various aspects of the writing process and how to write effective copy. Having said this, I committed to this course and I’m going to see if through. There are five parts to this online course and I’ve finished Part 1. This course is a bit intense and sometimes tedious, but I need to press on to achieve better writing. Part 1 consisted of some reading – -easy reading – and then the repetition started. I had to read two sales letters ten times each and then copy each one three times.

Reading and Writing 2

Talk about tedious work and so much repetition! I started to question why I even signed up for this course. It was not what I was expecting, but after further reading, I realized that “rote” and “repetition” is the way I learned in school and almost mastered four foreign languages. It worked! I learned to sound out and spell my words. I learned to breakdown words into prefixes, root word, and suffixes to understand their meanings.

This course is like that. It starts with rote and repetition and then builds on other aspects of the writing business. It also presents commentary from other members of the group. This gives them the opportunity to express themselves and give tips and tricks on how to succeed to the newbies.

Ideas

I honestly don’t understand how anyone can zip through this course, even if he or she is already a writer. There is so much to absorb and think about. On the surface, it looks like an easy course, but it requires hard work and dedication to get the most out of it.

I’m writing about this in this blog, because I feel this is one of the best ways to learn anything: repetition. While it’s not a glamorous way to learn something new, like playing games on the internet, it is a direct, concentrated way of making you focus on what is in front of you. Because you don’t know the end result, you have to learn every piece as it is presented to you, so the sum will equal all of its parts. Skipping to the middle or the end of the course leaves learning gaps that will get you later on as your career progresses, so taking time to learn the old-fashioned way is your best bet.

pie chart

How does this apply to my virtual assistant business? It’s so easy to look up how to do something online.  You simply follow the instruction and there you go. You can solve almost any Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, or any other software program problem in a few minutes. What most of us do not do is go back and practice, practice, practice, so we can learn this new skill and never have to look it up again.

Woman and Computer

This is one of the things I realize about this course. The repetition pays off. I can almost repeat verbatim the three sales letters I’ve read and copied. That’s what repetition does. As the wording became familiar to me, I started to notice an invisible outline of facts and information. I also noticed how some information was described in several places within the sales letters, but with different emphasis and words.

As I go through this course, it is a reminder of how easy it is to learn something new, if you learn it in the right way. Repetition and practice might be boring, but doing it creates an imprint in your brain and once you learn it, you may never forget it. It also allows your brain to think about what you’ve learned and how you can apply it to other tasks or projects.
gear-brain

Learning is fun, so why not make the most of it!

 

What are some of the ways that you learn new things?

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YOUR FRIEND COULD BE YOUR NEXT CLIENT

Sometimes the answer is staring you in the face. How many times has this happened to you? You try so hard to do something and yet it was so simple. Lately, I’ve been so busy attending networking events and trying to advertise my virtual assistant business, Virtual Colleague, LLC, that I’ve overlooked an important part of the networking process.

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I recently met with a group of my former co-workers. We get together about twice a year to catch up with each other and find out what’s going on in our lives. A few of them are still working at the company, but most of us have gone on to do other things.

When we first meet, we all seem to speak at once, but then, things settle down and we eat and talk about ourselves with each of us taking a turn to speak. We choose a restaurant, so we don’t have to cook or bring anything, and we can concentrate on spending time listening to each other.

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Some people in this group think I am so courageous to break out and start my own business. I’m really not. It was created out of necessity, but I still like to hear the praise. As each of us took turns talking about family, friends, jobs, vacations, etc.,  I got lost in all of the new information presented, whether it was happy or sad news. We all try to be supportive of each other and offer suggestions to help with others’ problems or issues.

About three days after our get-together, I received an email from one of women in the group. She is happily married with one daughter and wants to work, but the employment situation is not great in Rhode Island. She always keeps physically fit and wants to work as a personal trainer.

At the restaurant, she told us she is trying to start a business as a personal trainer. She went into detail about all the training and certification she had to go through and why she wanted to do that type of work.  She also told everyone how difficult it is to start and run a business. I can certainly relate to that.

 

 

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It was a subtle clue that she needed my expertise and I totally missed it. I was so busy socializing that I missed the opportunity to speak to her about all the services I had to offer. It wasn’t until I received her email asking for my help that I realized I missed a great opportunity to get new business.

She even told me she would pay whatever my fee was in exchange for help in several areas. She stated she was overwhelmed. She needs help with basic things as well as developing an ongoing plan to promote her business. I emailed her a detailed plan of what we could do for the next six months along with my contract and fee. I thanked her for thinking of me and my business and offered her my first time client discount.

She responded immediately and we are now working as a team. I will be going to one of her classes and taking photos for her Facebook business page and her personal page as well as photos to use on her brochures and marketing materials.

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As I look back on this, I can’t believe I was so blind to a new opportunity. I realized that marketing and networking are much more than showing up at events. It’s listening to the people around you, putting yourself in their situation, and being able to speak up and offer your services in a way that will help them and you to succeed. It’s listening on a regular basis and not just at specific times or places. This was an embarrassing lesson to learn and I have changed my mindset about networking and marketing.

Have you ever missed an opportunity to market your business?

 

Check out my website at Virtual Colleague, LLC  to see how I can help your business grow.

 

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HOW TO ADDRESS YOUR CLIENT?

2 women talking

I always find it awkward, when addressing my client for the first time. While everyone seems to think that addressing someone by his or her first name is the norm, I’ve found that assuming that’s how the client wants to be addressed is not always true.

I’ve worked with several clients since I started my business Virtual Colleague, LLC in 2013. When I network or speak to a potential client on the phone, he or she lets me know how they want to be addressed by how they introduce themselves to me.  I always use both of my names and let the client decide how he/she wants to address me.

Business Card

For example, my company slogan is “partnering with the client”, so if we’re partners we should address each other by our first names. Right? Some of my clients do not feel comfortable doing this, especially because I do not work in their offices, so they feel we have an extended connection. Although they’re very satisfied with the work I do, they don’t feel a close connection or bond. Therefore, they address me as Ms. Plante.

I don’t really care how my clients address me. I am in partnership with them and I let them decide how they want to interact with me and how we address each other. I want them to be comfortable working with me and sharing ideas and information. As long as we connect on a business level, I let them dictate how we communicate (emails, phone calls, Skype, etc.) and how they want to be addressed.

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I’ve found that sometimes my clients’ titles call for a more formal tone. For example, some clients prefer to use their professional titles: Doctor, Vice-President, Director, etc. If they ask me to use those titles, it’s usually to distinguish themselves from the others in their fields and usually I’m asked to use these titles, when working with larger companies.

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One rule of thumb: I NEVER use nicknames. I believe they can be demeaning and show a lack of respect for the client. On the other hand, if my client’s name is Richard, I let him tell me how he wants to be addressed: Rich, Richie, Dick, or Rick. If he or she asks me to use a more familiar name like the ones I mentioned, then I would do it, but I would still refuse to use a nickname.

Even though I want to work with them, I also have my own business and reputation to think of. If I’m too casual with my clients, they may not see me as a true professional and my business would suffer. In addition, getting too close or familiar on a personal level with my clients would change our business relationship and the lines of communication may start to blur. It’s important to strike a balance between professional courtesy and personal involvement in business.

What are your thoughts on this topic?

 

Click on Virtual Colleague, LLC to find out how I can help your business grow.

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