Wednesday, September 23, 2009

E is for Email


This one is very important, so pay attention. Email is the single most important tool that you will use in your new virtual office. You will use it for communication, record keeping and scheduling. The biggest and best free e-mail providers are yahoo, hotmail, and google’s gmail.
Even if you already have an e-mail address, you really should set up a separate e-mail account for your work at home. You are less likely to miss important messages from clients when they are not mixed in the same inbox as your friends' forwards and your J Crew e-catalog subscription right? At first, you probably won't have your own domain. However, when you do, I recommend utilizing an e-mail address at your domain. E.G. My work and my assistants' addresses are all

Suggestions for choosing your email provider and address:

  1. Look for a service that gives you lots of space.

  2. Utilize the calendar and keep track of appointments and schedule updates for clients.

  3. If you don't have an e-mail address through your web host, then choose one of the free e-mail providers above, but choose a professional username. It'd be difficult to take seriously someone with an e-mail address like: "" or "". Use something like ""
See what I mean? :)

D is for Documentation

Setting up your virtual filing system for all of your job listing interests, e-books and self written how to’s should be one of the first things you do when beginning online job research.

google accounts
I love Google for the very reason that I can use the following tools to keep track of many important business documents:
  1. Google Library Google's book search - with this, I have compiled quite an extensive library of e-books and business articles for small businesses and consulting.

  2. reader Google reader keeps track of blogs I follow. (I recommend following Chris Brogan and CopyBlogger if you're into social media and blogging for business.)

  3. And Google docs help me keep track of important documents. You can read, write, search and share all kinds of helpful office documents and templates.

  4. Google Calendar is a great way to track when, how much and even where you do things. If it is a task you only do quarterly, bi-weekly or annually you should simply setup a recurring reminder!

Keep documents like e-mails that contain vital business information and file them in virtual folders for each client and business partner. The most important part of consulting is keeping track of your time and there are so many tools that can help you organize your information. My advice: try them out.

What tools have you found that work well for you?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

C is for Craig’s List

Thanks to Craig’s list, there is a wealth of businesses that can advertise jobs they need to be outsourced. And they can do this for free! So lots of businesses do it! Go to find your location, and then the city closest to you and start from there. Look under jobs, there are lots of great Virtual Assistant tasks under “Gigs”.

If you don’t see anything you are qualified to do, then look in other cities in the state or surrounding states. After all, virtual assisting doesn’t look for work within commuting distance. But when you begin telecommuting work, you have to start somewhere right? When you get in your VA groove, you will be capable of having clients all over the world.

Even if you are not ready to start consulting right away, this is a good place to start online job research. It's smart to start locally, there are lots of companies that put ads in local papers, even free local papers to find qualified professionals for consulting work.

*Note - is the only site I've had luck finding virtual work. If you know of others, please leave a comment and share it! Thank you.

Monday, September 14, 2009

B is for Balance

I wish I had more wisdom to share in this area. Balance is an important skill to master. In fact I was in the middle of a client's project when I meant to post this. I didn't get around to it until today, but prioritizing is part of the deal. We all have our to do lists, and the trick to getting it all done is one thing at a time right? So easy to say, much more difficult to practice "getting it all done" effectively. Let's start with health.

Breakfast is Fuel / Lunch is Business / and Dinner is Romance.
I wish I could remember where I heard this, but I love this little saying. Here’s why: You have to plan your day. There is a time to worry about work then there is a time you need to be present with your family. If any of us could figure out how to do this all the time, we would live in a perfectly balanced world.

Scheduling work is vital for work at home parents. If you do not limit your workday, you'll end up either working all the time, or not working all the time. Either way is not a good way to run a virtual business. Limit your work day to 2 to 5 hours in a day. And don't feel like you should only work one shift. I am more productive when I split my days. I work a few hours in the a.m. then I finish and plan work for the next day later (sometimes too late) at night when the house is quiet.

(If there is such a thing!) Anyone who stays home with kids know's that you have to provide undivided attention to the little people to teach, play, and love. That's your most important job, and you will not be happy unless you are able to meet their needs. But it is also an important part of development for them to learn to play and entertain themselves sometimes.

Now. . . on to some more technical stuff.