Part of the reason I started this blog is because I wanted to network with and champion fellow Virtual Assistants. I think that there are some misconceptions about VAs and the nature of the job. My aim is to showcase the human side of Virtual Assistants – their failures and successes, their life “offline”, their skills and knowledge beyond being “just an assistant”.
For the first in this series, I reached out to a fellow Virtual Assistant from the Philippines – Sheilah Casaclang. Sheilah is one of the most helpful and most sincere VAs I’ve known in the VA world. I am hoping to get to meet her soon so I can give her a big warm hug!
Sheilah is a seasoned VA and had put on different hats as a VA. Get to know more about Sheilah:
- how she started her Virtual Assistant career planning her life around her daughter
- her top 3 productivity tips
- her challenges working with a virtual team
- her tips in dealing with clients
- her killer “pitch” in getting clients
How did you get started as a Virtual Assistant?
It was an accidental vocation. I used to work in a private membership club in Makati. I had plans of going abroad but I fell in love, got pregnant and then things took a different turn. I found myself single and with child, so I did the next best possible thing. I used to plan my life around myself, but when my daughter came along I had to plan my life around her. I wanted to be with her the whole time and took the advice of my ob gynecologist seriously. Right after I gave birth, my brother offered to pay half of the price of a desktop computer then I applied for an internet connection. Then I immediately started looking for an online job. Luckily, the first job I applied to ended up being my employer for almost five years.
What’s your usual work day like? Any top 3 productivity tips?
I wake up very early in the morning. I try to do most of the heavy stuff early in the morning when the house is quiet. I’m weird in the sense that despite what productivity experts say, I still check my emails before I do anything else. Later during the day, I do some of the light stuff such as checking social media accounts, following up on emails, etc. All throughout the day I take mini-breaks (I check my Facebook, listen to music, play online games).
I try to keep things sane at home: eat meals on time, on the dining table with family (I strongly advise against working during mealtimes), carry on with housework at designated hours (no house help at home), etc.
We go out as a family, no matter how tight my deadlines are. Always find time for family and for leisure.
What challenges do you usually face working with a remote team/subcontractors?
Through the years, I’ve realised that it’s not so much as having steady internet connection or having the latest device or tools; rather it is possessing a work ethic wherein you take the initiative to make things better, to do things on time, and to do things right. Reliability is a rare quality which is paramount to the success of any business or of any working or personal relationship. It’s the fact that, OK my internet connection right now is crazy, what shall I do about it? Let me report the situation to my client and let me go to an internet shop and finish my work. OK so it’s crunch time, can I finish my work on time or do I need to ask for more time to complete my tasks? It’s being there when everybody else has given up on it. It’s going the extra mile anytime every single time because you love what you’re doing and you care for the business.
What’s your top 3 tips in dealing with clients?
Be honest. If I fall asleep and fail to make it to a Skype meeting, I apologise, own up to it and make sure I do a great job all the time. Clients understand you are human and make mistakes once in a while. I think it is the fact that you have that chink in the armour that makes them love you somehow. But don’t overdo it and slacken off on work. By then you’re not only imperfect, but also unprofessional. It’s acceptable to slip once in a while but don’t fall flat on your face all the time.
Be passionate about the business. Love your job. Love everything there is about the business. Own the business in the sense that as the company grows, so do you. There’s nothing like waking up on a Monday morning and looking forward to your tasks.
Be businesslike. It’s alright to have fun and not take yourself seriously once in a while, but always remember that you have a business to care for and a career to focus on. Perhaps I’m really crazy, but I love working on weekends. Even as I tune myself off from work and do Facebook and play games I still come across something that might help the company so I take written notes on how I can discuss this with the client or use this for the business.
If I’m a client looking for a kickass Virtual Assistant and you would pitch to me, how would you do it?
I don’t have any pitch haha… I do tell them that I get the job done properly and on time and that despite having worked for many years, I still have the passion to learn new things.
And of course I tell them right away that being older has a bit of an advantage because I’ve been there, done that, may do it again but would rather NOT do it anymore.
To get in touch with Sheilah, click here…
If you’d want to get started working from home, read the Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Virtual Assistant.
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