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Updated: Jan 7




Too much to do, not enough time? Sounds familiar?

Are you solopreneur, small business owner who is wearing many hats in your business? You are the CEO, Secretary, Events Manager, Marketing Manager, Graphic Designer, Accounts Clerk and after all that, you are also a friend, wife, cook, mum, teacher and more. Your work is never ending and often you feel overwhelmed. Taking care of everything leaves you with no quality time to yourself. No time to learn something new, no time to catch up with friends nor look after your health and wellbeing. Your life is constant race against the time. Race where there are no winners.

Guess what? You did not sign up to be your own boss to put up with this.


With help from a Virtual Assistant (VA), you can free up time you spend on doing things you don’t enjoy. Those things you are not quite sure how to master, those things that rob you your sleep, that weekend away with your girlfriends, your baby’s first steps or family celebration.

VA can look after your business whilst you focus on things that matter to you, like friends and family, self-development, working on your long-term strategy and putting steps in place helping you to grow your business.


Outsourcing can be scary and letting someone to take over your backend operations can be daunting, I get it. This is your business which you are proud of and delegating tasks to someone else means trusting a complete stranger and letting that someone into your inner circle, but believe me, when you can see your bank balance grow and have more time to enjoy your life, it’s all worth it.

Virtual Assistant is a fellow business owner and knows too well how to nurture your business to make it flourish.


Not quite sure what a VA can help you with? I suggest writing down everything you do in your business, be it a regular daily routine, weekly task or an annual job. Be it a project to put in place longer term processes or as easy as answering your business calls. Write down all these jobs you haven’t started but know you need to be doing in order to succeed. Once you have your list, create another column next to it to decide whether with some training and knowledge about your business these tasks can be undertaken by someone else. Third thing to consider- you may want to think how much time you spend on doing these tasks or think these tasks would rob you of your precious time with your kids and/or friends. Here’s a table to show how much time you can save by outsourcing and extra funds you could be making from it.

Below some tasks that can be easily outsourced.


CUSTOMER SERVICE

· Managing inbox and responding to emails

· Troubleshooting customer issues and providing solutions

· Drafting canned emails to frequently asked questions and recurrent scenarios

· Sending out contracts, customer agreements

· Maintaining CRM


GENERAL ADMINISTRATION

· Answering Phone calls and taking messages

· Creating Word Documents and setting up spreadsheets

· Creating forms

· Preparing Presentations

· Ordering supplies and sourcing suppliers

· Filing (hard copy and soft copy)

· Online research

· Data Entry


EXECUTIVE SUPPORT

· Taking minutes

· Drafting correspondence

· Preparing agendas and following up on action lists

· Diary support and appointment scheduling

· Writing general operating procedures


SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGEMENT

· Putting together social media plan/strategy for the year

· Producing the post schedule

· Hashtag research

· Engaging visual content creation for posts and stories

· Post scheduling for Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest

· Client engagement by commenting and responding to direct messages

· Organising giveaways or contests


COPYWRITING

· Writing content for your promotional collateral

· Providing text for your website

· Writing blog posts

· Drafting newsletters


ACCOUNTS

· Recording expenses

· Credit Card reconciliations

· Bill payments

· Preparing client invoices

· Sending out quotes

· Preparing Monthly Reporting


EVENT MANAGEMENT (CONFERENCE, PLANNING DAY, RETREAT)

· Researching venues and sourcing quotes

· Researching and booking speakers

· Managing Invitations list

· Creating a marketing plan

· Booking vendors such as caterer, photographer, security

· Arranging event collateral and gift bags

· Setting up feedback survey


WEBSITE MANAGEMENT

· Uploading content to the website

· Updating text, images and product selection

· Formatting and creating new pages


RECRUITMENT SUPPORT

· Drafting recruitment adverts

· Placing adverts on Job portals and LinkedIn

· Conducting initial screening dependent on criteria

· Scheduling interviews

· Conducting onboarding of new staff


There – 50 tasks that you can easily outsource to save time and focus on what really matters. I could add more but I am sure it’s enough to make you want to consider hiring a VA. But remember, Virtual Assistant is not your employee. Consider it more as a partner, someone to share the load with, to bounce off ideas from and an accountability buddy.

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  • Kairi Kaljo

Updated: Jan 6

Us human, we are visual creatures. We act on what we see. We eat with our eyes, we buy clothes that look good on us. We just can’t help ourselves and often go for things that are well presented and look good. Images are there to make us choose and decide. They are there to make us warm to something or someone. Images are there to sell. Look at above for instance. Could you resist from having a slice of cake on the picture below?

Having a photo shoot is fun, you get to wear costumes and maybe have photos taken in different locations. You get to use props relevant to your industry and take some time out for yourself. Definitely an experience to invest in. Not comfortable in front of the camera? Yes, I know that feeling. I don’t really like photos of myself either. Just too much of a self-critic but let me tell you, a good photographer is there to make you feel at ease and if you don’t want your face all over your business, ask your friends to step in and be your models instead.


Branding Photoshoot

If you have decided to invest your money into professional photography, here are some tips on how to prepare.




1) Vision Board

Check out Pinterest for some personal branding photos and create a vision board to plan your own shoot. When you share it with your photographer, they will have a better understanding what type of shots you are looking for. Think who is your customer. Are they corporate customer and you are offering service to them? You are looking to create more sophisticated look with your photos. You want to come across smart, confident and expert in your field. Is your ideal customer a stay at home mum or a creative person? You want to come across approachable, easy going, friendly- someone they can warm to and in this case wearing a suit does not really work.


2) Get to know your photographer.

Good photographer will make you feel at ease and will

guide you through the shoot. They will suggest poses and settings for your photos and if you are concerned about certain aspect of your appearance, they will take it into consideration when taking photos. It’s good to be honest and tell them when you prefer to have photos taken at certain angle and they will understand. At the end of the day, you are their customer and they want you to be happy with your photos.


3) Plan your props

When you offer a business service, your props include your mobile phone, notebook, tablet, laptop and a cup of coffee maybe. You want your photos to look professional and use props related to your every day work. When you are a baker, you surround yourself with baked goods, crockery, utensils and more. You want your client to see you in your natural environment. Write down a list of props you want to use for your shoot when planning for the day.


4) Plan your looks.

Choose at least 3 outfits that make you feel confident and that look good on

you. Yet again think what services you offer and who your target audience is. If you offer professional services to businesses you may want to wear smart attire. If pencil skirts and heels is your thing and helping you feel powerful, why not glam up. If your clientele is “parents”, you may want to show more casual side of yourself and wear jeans and t-shirt etc. Think of colours that compliment your eyes.

But if you are no photographer yourself and you can’t afford one either, how is one supposed to access good looking images to make our website stand out or social media profile stay in the game? In most cases, that involves paying for high resolution stock images which you can download online.


Paid Photos

Most photo banks offer monthly or annual subscription which allow you to download a number of images each month. Those subscriptions can however be costly. Personally, I have used Adobe Stock photos before and they charge around $70 for 10 images a month. Fair enough if you are working on a project and can vouch the cost of images into your project costs but if this is a regular thing, you want to look at other options.


I have also previously used Dreamstime. Significantly cheaper option than Adobe and a good selection of images and you get 15 first images for free.

Thanks to a recommendation on a Virtually Yours VA networking site recently, I recently joined Ivorymix. They have a great selection of stock images suitable for blog, website or socials. Targeted for a female market, it comes with an annual subscription which allows you to download as many images as you like. As a downside, images may be a bit too feminine and if your client is a male, it may not fit your bill.


A new addition to the stock image source, is Canva. Canva now offers a variety of stock images as part of their premium subscription. Personally, I have found the selection of images a bit limited but it does not mean it would not suit you.


Free Photos

There are also some free stock images available but you need to realise that it’s likely you will come across same photos on someone else’s website and socials. Those photos are free and more people are likely to use them than those paid photos. Other than, no reason why you should not use those sources available. Let’s look at some of those sources below.

You can find a selection of free photos on Pexels. Great source of imagery if your budget does not stretch to paid images but the selection may be slightly limited. Second well known free source for stock images is Unsplash. Again, choice maybe a bit limited but otherwise great.

Just a note to yourself-free image sources often expect you to credit an author of the photo which is a nice a gesture considering you are not paying for the photo but in reality I don’t think many people really do.

Pinterest

Pinterest is great for visuals. It’s full of recipes, food photos, fashion, inspirational quotes, interior design, homewares etc. It is full of inspiration and I am proud owner of Pinterest account. Apparently it’s also a great source of organic traffic to your website when you use it well but about that some other time.

I can’t help but say I love it but Pinterest does not count as a free image bank.

Someone has put a lot of effort into creating those Pinterest boards and pins and if you just download images from Pinterest and post them on your socials without a valid credit to the author, it’s pretty much a theft of someone else’s work and can result in a legal matter.


Pinterest is a great place for sharing your ideas and using it as a source of inspiration but if you choose to post someone else’s images on your socials, please remember to include the author of the pin in your credits. Not sure who’s the owner of the image?

The owner of the picture is always marked on the right hand side of the picture (highlighted in yellow).

And, even when you save an image off someone’s board who is not the owner, you can still see the details of the original owner of the image so there is no real excuse why one could not credit the owner. You can simply follow the business on Facebook and/or Instagram and tag them in your post as a source of your image and save yourself from a letter threatening with a legal action. Voila!

In conclusion, if anything, dear to use more images as this is the first thing catching people’s eyes but remember - unless you are the owner of the photo, use a reputable stock imagery or express your admiration by sharing someone else’s photo by crediting the owner and letting them know you are inspired. It will work to your favour in an ever changing algorithm game.

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  • Kairi Kaljo

Updated: Jul 19, 2020




With EOFY closing in, tax return becomes a topic once again in everyone’s minds.


Tax year in Australia starts on my birthday. That’s right, on July 1st, and finishes on June 30.


I must say, to date it’s been pretty exciting for me. In my 7 years in Australia, I have always got something back from a tax man. It may not be the case this year but hopefully with the help of a good tax agent, I see some pocket money going back into my account.


Living in the UK, tax return was not a common thing. Tax return was not obligatory if you were a paid employee. Obviously, this was different for those having their own business and working for themselves.


I am sure you already know that in order to maximise the return and minimise the tax you are liable for, you need to keep copies of all receipts/invoices related to any expenses

occurred during the current tax year. Remember, tax man can come knocking on your door asking for a proof of purchases any time he wants to look into more detail. Even better if you have worked out some sort of filing system or downloaded an app to record all your receipts. Check out your bank app on your mobile phone as nowadays bank apps have a functionality to scan receipts.


Now let’s see in more detail what type of expenses you can claim in your tax return


Self-employed and a small business owner

Regardless what business you are in, below is the list of things you can claim in definite.

· Mobile phone bill

· Internet bill

· Any subscriptions/professional memberships

· Any software expenses

· Equipment purchased including phone, computer, tablet, earphones, hard drive, camera, printer plus any equipment related to your field of business i.e tools and protective clothing, packaging, raw materials for production and more

· Stationary

· Training costs/conference fees

· Business travel costs (hotel and flights associated to any business trips)

· Books, collateral purchased for your business


Employee

· Any costs occurred using your mobile phone for work

· Costs occurred using your home internet for work

· Any software/hardware purchased required to do your work

· Protective clothing and footwear/uniform related costs including laundry and dry cleaning

· Professional memberships associated to your profession and trade certificates

· Training costs not covered by an employer

· Work travel costs (that does not include traveling to and from work but travel to conferences, training, work trips)

· Any collateral and books bought relevant to your job

· Bags such as laptop bag, handbag used for work

· Sunscreen for those working outdoors

· Sunglasses for those working outdoors

In financial year 2019/20, if you have been working from home during the Covid-19 pandemic, all working from home costs can also be calculated by multiplying hours you have worked from home between 1st March and 30th June with 80 cents (per hour) which will provide you with a figure for tax deductible work from home expenses. If you have been claiming either job keeper or job seeker payments, your accountant can assist you with more information on what needs to be included in your tax return.


Please note that this year employers are no longer required to issue end of year payment summary to its employees. Instead, employees will be able to view their tax and super information by logging into their MyGov account and accessing ATO online services.


When you log into your MyGov account, make sure ATO is linked to your MyGov profile. If not, you first need to follow the steps to link ATO services to your account. Please have your TFN handy when doing it. Also for verification purposes, ATO may ask you details from last year’s PAYG i.e gross salary, or your bank account number and/or super balance.


Once you have linked ATO services page to your MyGov account, you can view your employment details and tax details under “View My Income Statements”. Your accountant should also be able to access your tax information without you printing off any details, however in case you are visiting them first time, you may wish to print off your tax summary just in case.

Also, a thing to note before you now rush off to scheduling your tax appointment- Tax agents/accountants will be flat out come 1st July so you may wish to book in your appointment toward end of July or later, just to give them a bit of a breathing space.

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