Friday, April 3, 2009

Lesson Learned

Okay, here is some free piece of advice that I learned today. I had a woman contact me regarding including a MeetUp group that I hold. I organize two MeetUp groups: one for Virtual Assistants in the Baltimore area and one for Scrapbookers. Well this woman was writing an article about local Scrapbook MeetUps in the area and asked if she include mine. I jumped at the chance, who wouldn't like a little free publicity, right?

She contacts me this morning to let me know that the article is up and running and to please share it with others. I go to the article's website and share it across quite a few social bookmarking and networking sites. THEN I read the article...the link to my MeetUp group is not included in the list of all the other MeetUp groups. Needless to say, I was a little irritated, but mostly irritated with myself. I sent the woman an email, but the damage is already done...I just advertised for about 10 other MeetUps, that have the same goal as mine and within close proximity.

So, lesson learned, just like you shouldn't sign something before reading it, make sure you read something to make sure all of your information is correct (and even included) before blasting it across the Internet!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Who are You?

As I rushed my children back into the house this morning after a quick run to Starbucks I thought how silly I must look to some of my neighbors. My son in Halloween pajamas underneath his jacket and me in a green shirt, blue yoga pants and brown and orange flip-flops. The baby, the only normal dressed one of out of all of us, was in her carrier desperately trying to gnaw on my purse that is covered in sequins and boldly states, "happy hour."

I get everyone settled inside and remember that I still need to run back out to the car and grab my two Venti coffees (I'm not playing around this morning.) Still feeling silly, I grab my eye-glasses and put them on. In my mind as I open the front door and walk outside, I'm suddenly transformed into "Rebecca Buscemi, Business Owner" and no longer dirty mommy who really needs a shower.

I started thinking about how I DO present myself to others. I have only been a business owner for seven short months and learn more about myself everyday. I never knew that I had the desire and drive to do something this big in my life. Me, a business owner, wow! Sometimes, I sit back and think to myself that I'm kind of a big deal because I'm doing something great for my family that I love, doesn't stress me out (too much) and I'm helping others while doing it.

So, if I feel this way on the inside, why when I meet people and they ask me what I do for a living do I tell them that I'm a stay at home mom. Of course, this isn't a lie, I am a stay at home mom, but I'm also a work at home mom. Sometimes people ask me if I'm back at work and I'll tell them that I'm working out of the house at the moment. Which again is true, but I'm so much more than that. Very rarely am I able to say that I'm a business owner of a virtual assistance business. I'm not sure it's because I'm humble, I think it's because I'm shy.

Have you ever had this feeling as a new business owner? Are you able to tell anyone and everyone that you are proud of yourself and your success? Leave a comment and let me know!

I decided today, that whether I wear my eye glasses or not, I'm going to start to make a real effort to start to tell people who I really am. I'm Rebecca, a work at home mom who owns her own virtual assistance business, who are you?

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Exciting News! The Creation of our Monthly Newsletter!

It has been an exciting beginning of the year for me and Creative Virtual Office! I have gained some wonderful new clients that are as exciting as the work that they provide me with. I have began to expand my services to include Authors and I'm hoping to expand into Business Coaches too!

Because my business is growing, I have decided to have a logo created by a fellow mom-entrepreneur. I hope to have the logo created by the middle of February. I have also signed up for business coaching. My hopes are to learn more about myself and develop a clearer picture of where I see me and my business going in 2009. With the creation of my new logo, I will be able to send out my newly created newsletter: "Creative News and Notes" with my logo attached! I'm also working on having a wonderful company develop personalized blog sites for both of my blogs!

"Creative News and Notes" is created with Virtual Assistants and their clients in mind. I hope to include a Virtual Assistant spotlight, highlighting a new Virtual Assistant or a new niche every month. There will be a section dedicated to time management advice, interesting new websites and technologies and upcoming events! So don't forget to sign up and stay tuned for the first issue!

If you are interested in being interviewed for the first issue or have an upcoming event that you would like me to include, please send me an email:

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Only to a Virtual Assistant

This can only happen to a Virtual Assistant. I provide live phone answering for a company and a gentleman just called me and asked to speak to someone. I asked him for his name and he said "Mr. _____. I'm calling from upstairs." Well I just had to giggle because he's not calling from upstairs! Otherwise he would be calling from my kitchen or bedroom!

After I got back on the line to tell him that the person he was looking for wasn't available he told me that he would just drop the paper work off to him personally. He then said, "Okay! I'll see you in a few minutes." Again, I had to giggle.

It truly is a gift to be able to work at home and it makes me smile! It makes me feel good that people assume I'm in an office working just like them. To me it validates that I'm doing a good job and Virtual Assistants are just as professional as anyone else out there!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Starting Your Virtual Assistance Business Week #2

I hope everyone did their homework and is ready for the next installment on "How to Start Your Virtual Assistance Business." By now you know more about yourself and what you think you can provide your clients, the services you can provide, the space and equipment you will need to use.

You now need to decide how you are going to run your business. Are you going to be a sole proprietorship, a partnership, a corporation or a limited liability corporation (LLC). There are advantages and disadvantages to each of these. Take some time to research each of these entities before you make your decision. Of course, feel free to talk to other Virtual Assistants and ask them how they run their business and why they came to that decision. Every Virtual Assistant figures this out for themselves on an individual basis.

Think of what your Virtual Assistance business is jot down some ideas of names for your business. Make it catchy and make sure it's the name that you want to keep. You are going to put this name everywhere (on business cards, letter heads, websites) and if you decide that you no longer want to use this name, it's not going to be easy to switch. You will have a paper and Internet trail of your old business name.

Once you have decided on what you are going to name your business, you need to do some research and find out if that name is already taken by another business. If it is, it's in your best interest to find a new name for many reasons. One reason is because the other business most likely already owns that domain name too. This means you will not be able to build a business website with this name. Some different ways to research a business name before you secure it is to look that name up in your local phone book under "secretarial services" or "administrative services" and make sure that it isn't already taken in your state, call 411 or your directory assistance and ask for that name and of course, Google it!

Also, since you will most likely be using your business name in your domain name for your website, it won't hurt you to take a look at to see if that name is already taken by another website. If not and you have some spare change, go ahead and buy that domain name asap! Even if you're not ready to build your website yet, at least no one else will be able to purchase it in the meantime. And it's also in your best interests to buy the .com, .net, and .org extensions for your domain also. Just because your website is doesn't mean that the other John Jones can't own You don't want to leave any holes for people to take your company's individuality away!

Okay, you have your business name now and you know what kind of business entity you are going to run. Next, you need to register your business with your state or county and obtain a license. This is usually a simple process with one or two forms to fill out. There is also a small fee usually associated with registering your business. In the state of Maryland I had to contact the Department of Assessments and Taxation to register my trade name and it cost me $25.00. Every state and/or county is different. So, take a look at your state and city or county websites and you should be able to find the information you need on how to register your business.

Your homework for the next week:

1.) How are you going to run your business? What is your business entity going to be?

2.) What is your business name going to be? Now research that name up one side and down the other! Take a look at domains and purchase one in your business name if available.

3.) Find out how to register your name in your state, county and/or city.

Until next time! Please leave me comments and let me know how you are doing!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Starting Your Virtual Assistance Business Week #!

I joined Twitter about 1 month ago and since that time, I have been asked by quite a few people to give some advice about starting up their own Virtual Assistance business. I was driving myself crazy trying to remember all of the people that I promised to send information to, so I decided to start a blog series on the basics of starting up your own Virtual Assistance Business. I hope you enjoy my tipsand I wish all of you luck! The wonderful thing about being a Virtual Assistant is that we all have our own specialities and niches; which makes us unique! There is enough work out there for all of us. Please feel free to comment with questions or your own stories!

Let me start with saying, that you do not necessarily have to have a business or administrative background/degree to do this type of work from home. (Of course it always helps though!) I have a Bachelors in Education and I’m working on Masters in Education. I do have administrative experience though, but only about 5 years of it. What do I have? I love to help people, I have a niche that works well for me because it’s my passion, I learn quickly and I’m very computer savvy.

Take out some paper or even start a journal and let's start with some questions: "What do you have to offer?" or "What can you bring to the table?" What are you passionate about? My passions are children, education, special education, disabilities, health care and non-profits. The things in my life that drive me are the same things that my Virtual Assistance business is built on. My services are geared to helping professionals in these fields because I find these topics to be exciting and the people worthwhile to work with. Think about those two questions and decide for yourself, who do you want to work with, what do you have that makes you different than others and what are you good at? Don't feel frustrated if you aren't able to answer all of these questions in one day or even a week! This is a learning process, so enjoy the process and don't feel pressured to know all the answers right away.

So, you have a general idea of what kind of people or businesses you would like to offer support services to. Next, you need to decide if you have the dedicated space in your house to offer to your business. If you don't have this space yet, you need to have it before you start your business. Take a look around your house and decide where can you make your business "fit." If you already have this dedicated space, then you can move on to the next step.

Evaluate what technology you may already have and what do you need to make your Virtual Assistance business work. Generally speaking, you will need a computer (Mac/PC; your preference) with Internet access (high speed preferably), a business phone line (there are many low cost options out there), a fax machine, scanner, and a printer. There are other things that could be included in this list, but it depends on what type of services you plan on offering your clients. You may want to purchase a scale to weigh mail if you plan on offering a mailing service to your clients, for example.

Your homework for the week:

1.) Find out more about yourself and what you can offer others...what is your gift?

2.) Where is the space that you can dedicate to your business?

3.) What services can you offer your clients and what technology do you need or do you have to purchase to make your services possible? (Start writing a list of possible purchases you may need to buy so you know beforehand how to budget your business.)

4.) Do some research. Look at other Virtual Assistant's websites and see what services they offer and who their clients are.

Leave me comments! I would love to know about your beginning Virtual Assistance ventures! Until next week!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Social Networking (And All That Other Cool Online Stuff)

I spent the majority of the day with my sick son (who I lovingly refer to as Captain Pukey Pants) and my laptop. Lucky for me it was a slow day, so I was able to do most of my work from the sofa of my living room with my son and his bucket lying next to me. While keeping up-to-date with the Twitter world from Twhirl, a tweet came through about a blog listing the "50 Most Influential Women in Social Networking". Well, I got totally caught up in looking at all 50 of these websites and blogs. Wow, what an amazing group of women! There was so much to learn and look through. So I spent my evening updating my Delicious website and bookmarking all of my favorites and then I had to research some live RSS feeds for my favorite Blogs, so I don't miss a thing! (I ended up with FeedDemon; so far I'm happy with it.)
Anyway, I had wondered in the past if it's too much sometimes, belonging to so many social on-line networking sites. At what point do you get "on-line networking overkill"? But when I was looking at some of these websites of people that have been deemed "Social Networking Gurus" I realized that this is most likely how most of these people got their name out there. Most of them had at least two to three blogs and belonged to at least six social or business networking sites. I also noticed that many websites supported each other with links or blogs about "sister-sites" and so forth.
So, the moral of my story is that I now feel that I will continue my journey of Social Networking because it looks like it does work when you put time and effort into it. I feel like I got a good head start today! And I hope that I eventually will have the support of other virtual assistants, stay at home moms and other entrepreneurs in the future so that we can link up websites and connect!