May 162016

Aletta de Wal’s email signature back in 2009 described her as “Author of the forthcoming book: My Real Job is Being an Artist” so when it was published in 2015 and she sent me a copy I wasn’t surprised.

Aletta deWal

Aletta (on right) & me July 2014

I met Aletta in December 1970 when we were both students at the University of Western Ontario in London Ontario. Our friendship has had its ups and downs as all friendships do and the best thing about it is that it has endured for 46 years!

How could I tell the book was hers?

When we were in university I would do research in the library and stay up until about midnight writing an essay for which I always got a B or B+. Aletta on the other hand would spend several days in the library doing research then would stay up many nights until 3 or 4 a.m. AND she got A or A+. At the time I thought she was crazy …but …. that was her!

Fast forward to her book. I read the book and knew it was hers. It’s thorough and full of details as each of her essays had been. It has 265 pages of solid information that any artist just starting out or established can use. A lot of research went into writing this book – it’s definitely NOT “a bit of fluff”.

Is it just for artists?

I’m not an artist. I’m a small business marketing expert and content writer so I read this book from that viewpoint. Nearly everything in it works for a solopreneur with a service business especially those that need to buy supplies for their work.

Most importantly, it’s a must read for ALL artists. Keep it up Aletta!

If you want to know more about the book itself and what’s in each section go here. You can even buy it online!

Aug 272012

virtual assistantAs baby boomers we remember when there were secretaries. Now they’re called assistants. If you were a manager or higher you had a personal secretary who answered your phone and typed everything you dictated. Having a personal secretary was a mark of prestige. There were also departmental secretaries to whom one gave all the work of the department. (Image from )

If you were self employed you couldn’t afford employees and therefore you didn’t have a secretary. The explosion of technology resulted in virtual assistants.

What is a virtual assistant or “VA”?

A virtual assistant is generally self-employed and provides administrative, technical, or creative assistance to clients from a home office. They do what a secretary does without you having to hire them as an employee.

The history of a virtual assistant

Go back to 1996. Thomas Leonard a business and life coach had a phone conversation with his secretary in which he mentioned the phrase “virtual assistant”. She used it to create her new business and in February 1997 virtual assistance was publicly announced as a profession. It’s been used as a term ever since and is a growing field.

What do they do?

Virtual assistants can do almost anything that to you is “administrivia” or “too techy”. You may need more than one depending on what you want them to do but a good one will tell you what they can’t do and then refer you to someone who can. I’ve included an article link that lists “50 Things A Virtual Assistant Can Do For Your Business”. Read the list and find out. If you can think of it a VA can probably do it.

Why do you need one?

“My business is small and I can do it all myself. Besides I can’t afford one.” You can’t afford NOT to have one for some tasks. There are many reasons to hire one but the top three are …

  1. Virtual assistants are independent contractors (a US term) or self employed (a Canadian term) rather than employees and therefore you’re not responsible for any employee-related taxes, insurance or benefits.You avoid the problem of providing extra office space, equipment or supplies.
  2. They’re less expensive than an employee. You only have to hire them for what you need. That could be as little as two hours a week and they focus on only your work for that time period and bill by time.  Virtual Assistants usually work for other small businesses.
  3. They can be anywhere. As a result of technology you could be in Toronto and your virtual assistant could be in San Diego and you may never meet in person.

Two things to do BEFORE you get a VA

Do the task yourself so that you know not only about how much time it will take a VA to do it but also the steps for that task and what you need done.

Make a list of tasks or projects you want done. That way both you and the VA know exactly what you want done.


I’ve hired different ones. One did data entry from all of the business cards that I had collected at network events; one posted the articles I wrote on several article sites; and one took my Word documents that I used as “giveaways” and converted them to pdfs.

What did you have a virtual assistant do for you?

May 142012

Liz Saunders-McManusLiz and I first met at the Toronto Business Development Centre in 2003 when I was her business advisor. We got together monthly for a year to see how her business was progressing. She reported on what she’d done and the results she got and I gave her support and business suggestions to help her move her business forward.

At the time I remember thinking that she would succeed. She was and still is passionate, knowledgeable, outgoing and above all willing to listen to and help her clients – all qualities of a successful woman business owner.

We met again when she did the registration (and remembered everyone!) for Louisa Nedkov’s monthly networking event that I attended.

Over the years I’ve known her, kept in touch and used her services and when I called and asked if I could meet her for coffee and interview her she agreed wholeheartedly. (To show you how good she is, when we met I had a tape recorder and so did she AND we both recorded the interview!)

Click below to hear our interview. If you want to save a version to listen to at a later time, click where you see “Download MP3″.


Liz can (and should) be reached via phone at (416) 425-3419 or 1-888-425-3419 after all, she IS virtual :-)   or via her email at . Her website is  should you want to ask her any questions or use her services and ALL businesses should have a virtual assistant.

I interview these women business owners to demonstrate to you that  YOU CAN DO ANYTHING!