Saturday, 5 March 2016

To GST Or To Not GST?

When you start a new business there are so many new things to learn, the experience can be a little daunting.  For instance, “Do I have to register for GST?”  It’s a simple enough question and one that puckers the brow of many a new business owner.  If you are setting yourself up as a Virtual Assistant you will need to register your business name and apply for an ABN.  However, you don’t, in most circumstances, have to register for GST …at least not yet.

Put simply, GST is a tax on most goods and services sold or consumed in Australia and it is collected by registered businesses and paid to the government.

Your new VA business has two roles: to operate as a business and to collect GST for the government.

However, if your turnover will be less than $75,000 in a 12 month period, registering for GST is optional.  If you are new to running your own business, you already have a lot to get your head around and not having to think about GST and the administrative work associated with tracking and reporting GST can be a relief.  You have plenty of time to settle into being a new business before worrying about understanding GST and BAS (Business Activity Statement) reporting.

Realistically, it is unlikely that your fledgling business will hit the GST threshold in your very first year, especially if you are starting your business part time.  If you haven't registered for GST, and you become aware that your GST turnover will exceed the $75 000 per year threshold, (break out the champagne!) and realise, all is not lost, you have 21 days to register.

As with all things financial, always speak to your accountant to make sure you are taking the right path for your particular circumstances.

The Exceptional Assistant


Interested in working as a VA or just started your VA business?  Check out these VA workshops:

Saturday 9th April

Saturday 21st May

Saturday 18th June

Contact for more details.

Monday, 23 March 2015

The Unpaid Mentor

All of us, throughout our lives, have had people that have were a profound influence on us.  Teachers, parents, coaches, friends, colleagues, roll models, these are all the unpaid mentors of our life.  Some we paid more attention to than others and some ….well, we should never have listened to at all.
In the business world, a mentor is considered a priceless addition to your business and guaranteed to bring results.  The line which is often trotted out (usually by professional mentors themselves) is that the cost of using a paid mentor must be “high enough to hurt” so that you will definitely follow through on your mentor’s recommendations and not waste your time.  I can see the logic, but I have to say what a load of dishwater.
Don't get me wrong, I think a professional coach or mentor is a valuable addition to your business team and definitely something every business owner should invest in  to grow (themselves and) their business.  However, when you have a fledgling business, funds are tight.  More often than not, most people are so busy trying to bring in enough money to get themselves established that there is not a lot left over to go towards the expense of mentors and coaches.  Yet, most people know they need someone with expertise to help them, get where they want to go, a bit quicker.
So where do you go to tap into some great advice and learn great processes without a huge outlay?  What some of us forget, is that there are sometimes some great role models around us, right under our noses, that we can talk to, emulate and ask advice of.
For me, when I started my business I soon discovered I had a wealth of people around me that I could tap into for expertise and usually it came at no more than the cost of a cup of coffee.
I’m lucky enough to work with some pretty dynamic clients, many of them very entrepreneurial and I’ve learnt from them to aim high and have vision.  I also have a close friend who has been successfully, self employed since her early twenties, so she was a great source of information on how to manage the day to day banalities of running a business, the things I needed to watch out for and how to make sure I stayed in business.  I make sure I watch people whose marketing style I like and who have walked the path ahead of me.  Someone who has been in business longer than you have, almost certainly has some great advice to share.
I’ve also studied people in the most unlikely places.  For example, there is mum at my children’s school who likes be involved in various committees and projects.  She nearly always put her hand up to be a classroom parent/teacher liaison and often single handedly manages fundraisers for the school.  What I admire about this lady is her ability to handle people.  She effortlessly smoothes ruffled feathers, unites the most unlikely people, always takes a polite interest in people around her in general and most importantly, gets the job done.  She could teach a masterclass in emotional intelligence.

If you can’t afford that professional mentor yet, take a look around you and be a student of those you admire.  Ask questions and learn.  Tap into those unpaid mentors and get the results you want.  Sometimes learning is FREE!

The Exceptional Assistant


Interested in working as a VA or just started your VA business?  Check out these VA workshops:

Saturday 18th April

Saturday 16th May

Saturday 13th June

Contact for more details.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

The Roses

I’ve had a frantic couple of weeks.  My workload has been pretty hefty.  There were quite a few late nights.  I have courses launching in Melbourne Sydney and Brisbane and  I’ve been juggling all of this with family issues,  client deadlines and my own health issues as well.

Feeling exhausted and a little flat I stopped for that all important mid morning cuppa and as Melbourne had decided to throw on a spectacular sunny spring day for a change, I decided I might take my beverage out into the garden for a bit.  What a great idea that turned out to be.

As I sat there in my seat letting the breeze blow through my hair and my soul .  I smelt the roses blooming in my garden I realised just how much I needed this short break and maybe I should start scheduling these moments into my hectic day.  Sometimes it is just great to STOP.  Not do anything.  Just let the wind blow.  I could literally feel the “calm” start to settle in.  Sometimes we all need to “stop and smell the roses”.

Life is hectic.  Running a business is at times a high pressure environment.  Clarity of thought is important when making important decisions and sometimes with the pace of work we don’t have the space for clear thinking. Keeping your head in the game sometimes means taking your head OUT of the game, just for 5 or 10 minutes.  Feel yourself breath, feel the sun on your skin.  Smell those Roses.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

The Team

I admit it.  There are some jobs in my business I’m just not good at. There are also other jobs I just plain don’t like doing.  

A Virtual Assistant usually works in a solo role but there is absolutely no reason why a Virtual Assistant can’t use a team of people to get the work done.  Let me explain.

I know next to nothing about web maintenance and uploads.  Some of my clients need this service from me, but, I know if I took it on it would take me a long time to do, (cos I’m not good at it) and I would probably make costly mistakes and end up having to fix them.  A VA colleaugue of mine is a wiz at these types of jobs and loves doing them.  Instead I sub-contract the work to her.  It’s a win situation all round.  She does a perfect job every time.  I don’t have to do the thing I’m not good at.  The client is happy because they got a complete service and because my colleague  gives me a really good rate for giving her this work she didn’t have to go out and find herself,  I’m happy, as I make a small margin on the difference between my friends rate and the rate I charge my client.

Many of my clients come to me because I offer a complete service.  Whatever the administrative chore they would like taken off their hands, I can assist them.  It pays to have a “team” of professionals I can refer to for those jobs which are on the outer edges of my experience.  

Consider assembling a “team“ for yourself and your clients.  I love this quote by Henry Ford which sums things up nicely… 

"Coming together is a beginning.  Keeping together is progress.  Working together is success."  ~Henry Ford

Friday, 30 August 2013

The Part Time Virtual Assistant

Many EA's PA's and experienced admin staff have considered a career as a Virtual Assistant but are put off by the risk of not having a regular income, or worse, no income at all if their business fails.

What many don't realise is starting your VA Business doesn't have to be an "all or nothing" proposition.  Many VA's successfully combine their VA Business with part-time employed work.

Some choose to work, say, 3 days per week for a regular emplioyer and use the remaining days of the week to run their Virtual Assistant business.

The benefit of this combination of regular employed work and self-employed business income is that it provides some stability of income as well as enjoying the flexibility and satisfaction of earning your own income.

Many VA's have also started their business on a part-time basis utilising their time out of normal business hours and on weekends to get their business started and build a stable client base.  Whilst this is obviously a much slower road to true profitability a VA business makes an excellent second job.It is important, however,  to be honest, up front and realistic about your work commitments with your clients.

If taking this path, it also helps to target organisations and clients who are also operating out of normal working hours.  Organisations staffed by volunteers such as sporting associations, clubs, church groups, charities etc are all good target markets for "out of hours" clients  as, usually, the people assisting to run these organisations are also working outside normal 9-5.

It pays to remember your potential client base is not limited to your own town, state or country.  Your potential market is the world!

Other businesses to target if your are considering a part-time VA business are other start-up businesses like your own.  People starting consultancies and small businesses are sometimes working out of hours and in their free time too and they need to make the most of every moment and admin support will help them achieve this. 

There are many options for starting a Virtual Assistant business without taking a risky jump into the unknown. Don't feel you have to make a major change to reach your goal.  It is possible to start small and build your dream lifestyle gradually. 

The Exceptional Assistant offers a number of educational options for Virtual Assistant’s at all stages of their journey, whether a fledgling business or established business wanting to expand and make the most of their opportunities. If you would like to find out more about starting your own Virtual Assistant Business email me at :

Sunday, 25 August 2013

The First Time

I still remember my first ever client….. and I’m proud to say they still are my client.

I remember launching my business and sitting in my office waiting for the phone to ring.  I’d marketed my backside off and handed out my card to anyone who would stand still long enough and then…..finally.

I was so nervous as I stumbled my way through the conversation.  I gave them my pricing for the task and they didn’t flinch.  I was hired.

The job itself was pretty simple.  A couple of Powerpoint presentations. Nothing too difficult.  Just some overflow work for a large company.  I couldn’t believe my luck.

But the real thrill.  The part of the process that had me hooked was producing my first invoice.  The inexplicable pride I felt at creating an income from nothing was extraordinary.  I had made that happen.  I had created that work.  I had made that money. To paraphrase Tom Hanks in Castaway “I have created fire!”

It was a powerful feeling to realise I can make my own money.  I’m no longer relient on somebody to give me a job and a pay cheque.  I can make my own income.  The experience was personal satisfaction on a scale I had never experienced.

Now, of course, I’m much more comfortable when the phone rings.  I’m not so desperate to land every client either and I know if they turn my down, it’s not me they don’t like, it’s my offer.  Nothing personal.  (Sometimes I even turn them down.)  However the thrill of making it happen has never left.  I love sending my invoices each week and I always stop to give myself a pat on the back and a “well done!”  

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

The Bargain Basement VA

All Virtual Assistants are not the same.  

Much like clothing brands or shoes there are the bargain basement Kmart end of the spectrum right up to the luxury designer labels or Jimmy Choos.  So it is with Virtual Assistants.
I often get asked if I worry about losing my clients to a cheaper outsourced version of me in India or China, for example.

Many of my clients are high net worth individuals.  Some are more high profile than others.  The one thing they have in common is they are not looking for a bargain basement assistant.  They are looking for a high caliber assistant that compliments them and their respective businesses.  

They want an assistant that can handle independent decision making, who can act, respond and represent them in their absence.  An assistant who has the nous to tackle any situation, acts with integrity and professionalism  and who’s all encompassing brief is to “add value” and make their client’s day easier.  Most, don’t care what the service costs they just want things done and done right.

There will always be a place in the market for bargain basement VA’s and there will always be clients who hire their VA’s based purely on price.  I know this is not the market I want to operate in.

My rates reflect my years of experience and my qualifications and my clients get so much more than just an administrative assistant when they hire me, they get a business person and a very competent extra pair of hands.