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terry@tlresources.com

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About terry@tlresources.com

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  • Birthday 03/03/1947
  1. There are many options available for creating a web site. Some VAs create their own using FrontPage or DreamWeaver software; other's (like me) purchased a template from their web host (www.godaddy.com), and others pay to have their site designed by a web site designer. I used a template as a basis because I'm not a web designer (yet) and needed to get my site up quickly. The template is great but has limitations. I now have FrontPage2003 and am learning how to use it. Eventually I'll replace my template-designed web site with one I design in FrontPage. You might take a tour of some of the VAs within this forum and contact them to get some feedback and possible referrals.
  2. Conrad, you're so cute! As a rule of thumb, it's best to keep your business and personal finances separate. It avoids the IRS question of co-mingling of funds, allows you to have a clearer picture of your business income and expenses, and makes it easier at tax time. Depending on your business structure (LLC, S-Corp., etc.) you may be required to maintain separate accounts. My recommendation is to consult a CPA who works with home-based business owners. He/she should provide all kinds of tips for setting up and maintaining your business practices. Usually they will offer a free consultation. Along with this I highly recommend tracking your business finances with a good accounting program such as Quicken or QuickBooks. BTW - would love to see a picture of you all grown up.
  3. Elance does seem tempting especially if your practice is not full (yet). I think this really comes down to how you define virtual assistance, how you define your business, and how you value yourself. For me, being a VA is much more than project work; I'm in the relationship business and want clients who also want a long-term, ongoing relationship. In another post/topic, Terry Green menioned doing destop publishing projects for a printer. In her case, the projects turned into a relationship with the printer. This is what the hope would be if you took on projects. In the case of Elance, I doubt that a VA/client partnership would evolve. How do you define your business and the value you bring to your clients?
  4. Michelle, If a client goes over the pre-paid retainer hours, those additional hours are billed at the retainer rate and appear on the next month's invoice. Example: Let's say the client paid a monthly retainer at the beginning of January of $200 for 5 hours which equates to $40 per hour. By the end of January you have worked 7 hours for the client. Your February invoice would include the retainer for February plus the 2 additional hours (2 x $40 = $80) worked in January ($200 plus $80) or $280. Hope this helps!
  5. Hi Conrad, I was trained as a VA by AssistU. When I learned that writing a business plan was a part of the training, I admit to being really unhappy at the thought of all the research, financials, marketing plan, etc. It was due around the 11th week of the 20-week program, and the whole class (6 of us) really dreaded it. However, once I got into it I realized how much I was learning through the process. It was invaluable to me and still is. Frequently when I'm defining my background and my business to potential clients or business associates, I tell them that I have a business plan. This immediately gives me credibility; It says that I'm a business owner who is serious about my business. So, I encourage you to take the time and make the effort; it's a worthy investment in your business - if you're serious!
  6. Amanda, glad you're here and asking some great questions about setting up your business! Both Lori and Becki have given you some good advice. Another aspect of choosing the right name from the beginning concerns branding. In the beginning no one really knows you and your business, but after just a few months you will have handed out lots of business cards, sent letters, developed a web site, maybe produced an e-zine, etc. and basically created an image and a presence in the market place. This is called branding, and there's no way to put a monetary value on it except that you might lose business if that presence suddenly isn't there (has changed it's name) . AND there's a higher chance that keeping your name will result in recognition and potential clients and referrals. Spending that $100 on your business name is money well-spent in my opinion! Good luck! Be sure and let us know what you decide.
  7. Great link! I have a client who could benefit greatly by this. Thanks for sharing.
  8. Terry, You might consider purchasing an external hard drive (mine is the size of a PDA) and setting up your backups with a program like Backup995 which offers a free utility. I set it to back up my hard drive (completely) every Sat. night at 1:00 AM with incremental daily/nightly backups to those file that have changed or to My Documents only during the rest of the week.
  9. I have had great success with eWomen Network. I attend my own local chapter and several chapters in surrounding cities. One of my best clients is the Managing Director for my local chapter. Every meeting she mentions me, providing free advertising. I also donated a couple of hours to the chapter silent auction. The high bidder used me to rearrange and reorganize her office, files, calendar, etc. During our meeting I also gave her tips for expanding her marketing effort using my services, i.e., ezine design and distribution, virtual business cards, etc. Within a week she had signed a retainer agreement, and we're having a great time together. I know that she'll be "advertising" my services at our chapter meetings very soon as well.
  10. Hi Liz, I've read with much interest your original post and the myriad of responses. It seems to me that two questions have been raised - setting your rates and retainers/deposits. You have to set your rates based on the value you bring or will bring to your clients, and only you can assess that value. With that said, I strongly feel that your rates should be based on your background/experience in the field, as well as the training you've received in your effort to be the best VA you can be. Also remember that setting your fees too low may say to prospective clients that you don't value yourself and your contribution, have less training than others and/or have little confidence in your ability. As a side note - If you've not pursued specific VA training, there are many options available, and that training should include instruction on setting your fees to match your value. There are probably many who will disagree with me, but I no longer offer a PAYG option. However, I do have two retainer options - a 5 hour and a 10 hour which is discounted 10%. The 5 hour retainer is equivalent to my PAYG rate but allows me to get the money in advance. Most of my clients go over their retainer hours; if they do so consistenly, I encourage them to go to the next level. Terry Green's discounts make sense, and when I have more clients at 18 hours or so, I too will offer a 20 hour retainer with a higher discount. Please take a look at this page on my web site. Good luck and let us know when that first client "knocks" on your door!
  11. Hi Liz! What fun to have a Colorado Springs VA buddy. I'd love to chat when you have time. Give me a call at 598-9923.
  12. Hi Catrina, Your tax situation depends on how you set up your business, i.e., S-Corp, LLC, Sole Proprietorship, etc. In order to answer your question, I'd need to know how you set it up, and really the best answer is going to come from a CPA (Certified Public Account). If you haven't conducted any business yet, you should consult a professional ASAP. In any event, since you're just starting your business, be sure to calculate any start-up costs that you may have incurred this year for tax purposes. There are many tax benefits available to you as virtual assistant working out of your home. Again, you'll need to consult an accountant who can give you advice based on your specific situation and the set up of your business. BTW - If you have any cash left, you might want to consider purchasing equipment, software, furnishings, office supplies, etc. before the end of the year (Dec. 31) so you can claim these expenses on your 2004 taxes. If you'd like more information about business set-up, check out My Corporation.com and The Wallstreet Journal's Startup Web site. These are just a couple of sites with good information. Good luck!
  13. Wow, Lori! What a great accomplishment in less than a year! I'm curious about the demographics of your clientele. Since you mentioned networking at least once a week, are most of your clients local? Is your networking through specific groups, and if so, what groups and are you a member of those groups? What is your follow up process? Guess you'll have to come out of "lurk" mode to answer all of the above questions . Looking forward to your answers (when you have a few minutes, of course).
  14. Looks like a lot of what I was going to say has already been said. However, I will add that it doesn't bother me to have my email program open up when a contact link is accessed. I assume that I will be contacted, and if not, I wouldn't want to do business with them or know anything further anyway. At least in an email I can explain myself and my questions better than in a contact form AND I can show my signature, tag line, and my marketing blurb, etc. (another opportunity for indirect marketing). I've also never been bothered by PDFs; if I want to print the information, I'm assured that it'll print as shown and won't run off the pages as some web site pages do. I have many PDF links on my web site and wouldn't want to have to state on every link that it is a PDF. I admit that it does take longer to bring up the Adobe Reader everytime, but I think it's worth it. Naomi, your comment about encrypting your email address was interesting. I put my web site email address out there because my web site is *private* (no one can find me through my web site). My web site email address is forwarded to my *regular* email address. I just have to make sure that when replying, I select the same (from) email address/personality to maintain that privacy.
  15. Hi, I just found this forum and am so glad I did! I can see that some of my other colleagues from AssistU have already established a presence here, so I have some catching up to do. Like many of you, I, too, come from years of "unappreciation" from the corporate world. However, I admit that those 20 years gave me a broad background, which is an advantage in the virutal assistance world. I live in God's country, which we all know is Colorado. Actually I live in Colorado Springs at the base of Pikes Peak (the inspiration for the favorite patriotic song, America, The Beautiful. I have 4 children and 3.9 grandchildren (1 is due in the next couple of days). My office is frequently a lively recreation area for my cat, Izzy, who really enjoys walking across my laptop, and Lucy, my hyper beagle. I spend much of my free time singing in a championship barbershop quartet within the women's organization, Sweet Adelines International. My quartet, Vocal Legacy is getting ready for another 6-state, Regional competition April 1. I'll keep you posted if we're successful again! I look forward to learning and sharing much in this forum!
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