Quanto vale a Língua Portuguesa?

Quanto vale a língua portuguesa?

A língua é cultura, economia e poder, claro. Traduz valores… e dinheiro, aspirações, negócios. E mede-se. O português vale 17% do PIB (algo como 30,8 mil milhões de euros), segundo o estudo revelado no livro “Potencial Económico da Língua Portuguesa,” um cálculo obtido através do peso relativo das actividades económicas com a componente integrada do idioma.

Hoje, é inegável que a língua franca international é o inglês, mas o português aspira a sê-lo: marca presença em todos os continentes e, combinado com o espanhol (o famoso ‘portunhol’) ultrapassa largamente em número de falantes os do inglês. Por causa da potência Brasil e da crescente influência dos países africanos  de língua portuguesa, com destaque para Angola, o português ganhou massa crítica e é cada vez mais procurado por estudantes no mundo inteiro. Sentem a atração do negócios, mas da poesia também.

Num inquérito feito entre aqueles estudantes, Portugal é… “a língua portuguesa.” Só depois é bonito e interessante. Pessoa tinha razão.

Números:

7 – lugar ocupado pelo português entre as línguas mais falados em tudo o mundo.

160 mil pessoas de países não lusófonos, em diversas partes do mundo, estão a aprender português.

8% das nossos exportações dirigem-se para países de língua oficial portuguesa.

16,8%dos portugueses que vivem no estrangeiro encontram-se no países lusófonos.

Source: Expresso

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Going Global. At what price?

A client of mine is the CEO for a network of independent management consultants. I very much enjoy working with him and the Partners; there’s a diverse range of projects and day to day administration to keep me on my toes, as well as I get to use new programs and apps, which I probably wouldn’t have looked twice at before.

Earlier this year, we did some research on how to expand the network and get a physical presence in multiple European countries. While my client and the majority of his clients are at the forefront of new technology and would call themselves ‘trendsetters’ when it comes to using new tools and tricks, having an on-the-ground presence is still extremely important to them. Sometimes, businesses want to be seen to be in the country of their target market, but for the first 12-18 months it may not make financial sense to rent premises, staff an office or buy equipment. Even in this day and age of ‘virtual’ this and ‘remote’ that, being seen to be local is valuable.

I looked into setting up basic office ‘suites’ in a number of locations, including London, Frankfurt and Madrid. Maybe ‘suite’ is too grand a word to use for what we wanted. My client wanted:

  1. A physical address
  2. An in-country phone number with native speaker response
  3. Someone to re-direct stray callers should anyone actually visit (see 1. above)

While it was highly unlikely that a meeting would ever take place at 1., having meeting room space would have been a nice addition to any package.

What I wanted was:

  1. A single point of contact for all locations
  2. To sign a single contract agreement

I did some research. Regus have nice, central locations, but their internal set up meant that I would have had to sign individual agreements with each office, making the paperwork a headache. Eoffice are expensive; from £200/month per location, this isn’t viable for a small, independent business. Yourcityoffice, too was very expensive and didn’t offer the range of locations of other suppliers. The ‘best’ solution I could find was to buy in-country numbers from a single supplier, that would be answered in the native language.

In the end, we shelved the project, deeming the costs for a possible 12 locations too high for the network to bear.

So my question is, how does a small business go global?

I don’t have an answer. Using a network such as mine with Red Box, Vitamina Office and Pelican Business, for example, may be a way. Accessing local knowledge through an established network, trusting independent advisors (for that is what we are) could be an effective and cost efficient way for businesses to at least start to establish themselves in their countries of choice.

How would you go global?

 

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Printer Stuck in Queue on Mac

Printer queue stuck on iMac

It always happens when you NEED something printing. For some reason the printer is stacking jobs and nothing is getting printed.

This has just happened to me and I’ve been trawling the internet for too long for an answer. Most tech forums are just that, too technical for my delicate little brain.

Have an iMac? Problem solved.

Here’s the 2 step guide to clearing your printer queue.

1. Applications – Utilities – Terminal

2. Launch Terminal – Type in cancel -a- and hit return

This will clear your printer queue and restore tranquility to your office.

 

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Skype Launches Small Business Version for Workplace

Skype Video Conferencing

Skype launch Skype for WorkSpace

Skype have launched to the public Skype in the workspace (SITW), a new online platform for small businesses to instantly connect with potential customers, partners and suppliers across the globe.

The free-to-use tool makes use of the huge network already offered by Skype, allowing millions of small businesses to promote their products and services to new networks and connections. Users can improve existing connections and establish new ones by instantly sending messages and talking to or meeting face-to-face with peers and business prospects over Skype.

The SITW community is already active because today’s launch comes at the end of a six-month beta trial, which enabled 500 businesses, offering more than 140 different services, to sign up, try out and test the platform.

“With more than 280 million connected users each month, Skype offers a huge range of contacts for the small-business community,” said Ural Cebeci, head of SMB Marketing at Skype. “We aim to connect millions of small businesses with Skype in the workspace and believe that, by taking advantage of this shared network, businesses can develop the range of tools they need to grow, regardless of location or industry. From the designer in San Francisco looking to source textile suppliers in Thailand to the London consultant connecting with clients in Milan, the possibilities are endless.”

SITW will provide a central hub for entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses to connect with experts, coaches and consultants who can help them develop their businesses. Users join the community using their existing Skype accounts, then through a series of promotional tools can create public “offers” or “opportunities” inviting community members to live sessions on Skype to demonstrate services or products to a wider audience. Users can also book appointments with potential customers or suppliers and keep track of them with a meeting notification service. When an opportunity is over, users can instantly give testimonials on the product or service offered.

“Small businesses are the backbone of the U.S. economy,” Cebeci said. “For these businesses to survive and grow in what is still a tough economic climate, we understand that good communication and connections are key to their success.

“This is why today we are opening the Skype in the workspace platform to the public,” Cebeci said. “We feel we’re helping connect businesses face-to-face with their customers and prospects, no matter where they are located. It opens up a world of opportunity for them.”

Alison Coward, an avid user of Skype and owner of the London creative collaboration agency Bracket, said, “Skype in the workspace is a real breakthrough. It’s the perfect platform for me to promote my business and connect with the people who can help it to grow. My business is about getting in front of people and helping them to solve their problems. With Skype in the workspace, I am visible to quality leads without even leaving the office. With no travel time to contend with, it’s also now far more feasible for me to grow my business outside the U.K. into Europe and the U.S.”

Jorge Parra, an avid user of Skype and owner of Florida-based Jorge Parra photography, said, “There’s a big difference between a professional network and a social network, and Skype in the workspace seems to understand this distinction. It is the perfect companion to my existing online presence and generates connections that will actually bring me business.”

Cindy Bidar, owner of All Quality Websites, a U.S. startup providing expert advice on how to design, build and maintain an online presence, added, “Skype in the workspace has offered something other online platforms couldn’t — a community of business-focused individuals who can explore my services and interact with me in real time.”

SITW is available to all Skype users starting today. Those wanting to sign up for the community can register their details here.

Source: Microsoft

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Playing Dress Up

There’s a lot to be said for being able to go to work in your pyjamas. This week I have been trialling a new set of under garments, courtesy of the Cambridge Baby Co. I am snug as a bug in a rug in my mohair and silk. I may never take them off. I may sew myself into them, cowboy style.

Retro style

Comfort (and right now warmth) is a big deal to the home worker. Why be corseted and starched when your only audience is your cat? I even saw recently on one of my networks an advert to work in the nude! All very well for those in the Southern Hemisphere.

But I have a divine wardrobe. It’s a collection of old and new, heirlooms and charity finds, labels and high street. I have a velvet evening coat from Katherine Hamnett, a waistcoat my Dad bought my Mum back from Romania in the early ‘80s; C&A t-shirts and supermarket jeans. Gorgeous silk, Pucci-esque prints and wool shift dresses that make me believe I am a 1940’s movie star.

And then there’s the shoes and the bags. I still have my first pair of kitten heels from LK Bennett, circa 1997, green patent loafers that were a hand-me-down; sparkly 1960’s evening bags and tiny, tiny bags that are too small to be useful, but too gorgeous to be given away.

Fluffy, welly boots

Every six months, I change my wardrobe around – Summer for Winter and Winter for Summer – and it feels as though I have been out and bought new stuff. Without the expense. And yet, I don’t wear or use any of it. Or at least not often enough for me to justify keeping most of it. I may change my outfit three times a day, but unlike the cast of Downtown Abbey, it’s not for dinner or dealing with my correspondence. More often than not I start the day in dog walking gear, change into something less muddy for work & back again.

So this week I resolved to use it or lose it. Nothing too extravagant; white shirts, tailored pencil skirts and heels. Just like I would do if I was still living the 9-5. I’ve even updated my profile picture in Skype to show the new me! It does make business sense, too. I often have video conference calls and clients have already remarked on how good I look. And on a psychological level, I do feel more professional, together and competent. All the reasons why my clients are working with me in the first place. I can even wear the high heels that never see the light of day as my commute is basically non existent.

Are you a stay-at-home worker? Do you dress up for the office or is working in your jammies the norm?

About the Author:
Emma Crabtree is the owner and sole-operator of Red Box Virtual Office, an off-site business support service.  Red Box Virtual Office can enable you to free yourself from the day to day admin of your business so that you can focus on what you enjoy and what makes you money.  Find out more

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Invisible Independents

Invisible independents

Invisible independents

I recently read this great article by Alex Butler from Kindred HQ. I think it’s incredibly timely and pertinent and I wonder how other countries view their growing number of workers who class themselves as independent or freelance? Would including their contributions to the workforce make any difference to the economy? I’d love to know how we’re seen here in Portugal. Or even whether we’re seen.

I re-print their article in full with very kind permission from Alex himself.

The invisible independent

There’s been an explosion in the number of people who are choosing to work freelance, and yet, when official employment figures are published, freelancers and independents manage to fall off the radar. Why is that?

It’s simple. The way that the government monitors this information is out of date. According to the number crunchers, employment is binary: you’re either an employee (employed) or you’re unemployed. Actually, government has a vague term for what they think is in-between, ‘self employed’ or ‘part time’, neither of which describe our tribe.  Worse than that, the term ‘small business’ is often used.  This is often inappropriate, as some independents and freelancers don’t consider themselves to be businesses in the strict sense of the word.

And the media?  They are obsessed with pointing out that the rise in numbers of self-employed reflects the fact that people can’t get full time or ‘proper’ jobs. For a long time, the establishment has dismissed our sector as negligible, because we don’t employ anyone and because we aren’t as visible. Though that’s not completely true. Whilst we might not directly employ people, we create projects, outsource, associate and build teams.   We work in a way that is fluid, without binding overheads and fixed costs.

Why does this matter?

Why don’t we just carry on doing our thing?

1. We count

Without knowing how many of us there are, and who we are how does the Government create meaningful policies that enable growth and sustainability?  How do larger businesses find us in order to trade?  How do communities help us develop, and how do we build bridges with them?

2.  Inequality

We still live in a ‘them vs. us’ culture, where freelancers are at best seen as a stop-gap for when times are tough, and at worst a black economy.  Without proper measures, freelancers have no power, making it difficult to show evidence that the world of work has changed, or to encourage employers towards a more fluid and innovative workforce.

We simply don’t have the same access to incentives as small businesses: unless we pigeonhole ourselves as such.  It is almost impossible to get a loan, or mortgage if you are self employed. And yet, freelancers and homeworkers use the transport system less.  They still spend, but often in a less damaging way to the environment, online and choosing to work at times that is more sensible for them and their clients.

3. National well-being

Forget work/life balance.  That suggests that the two are incompatible.  If you freelance, work from home or consider yourself an independent, research shows you are likely to be happier, despite the uncertainty.  Freelancers and independents are mutually supportive and there is a strong sharing, reciprocal economy amongst us.

Many freelancers and homeworkers play an important role in their local economies too.  There is enormous potential to marry the requirement for desk space and facilities for entrepreneurs and the freelance population with the way we think about our high streets.  The knock on effect of this would that they spend with other retailers in the local economy.

We have an ulterior motive of course. We’d like a new way to measure the size of the sector and contribution that we make to the UK economy.

We’d like tax & other incentives to encourage growth, and we’d like the government to encourage local authorities to provide much needed facilities to bring homeworkers together for peer support and reciprocal exchange.

We want to correct the imbalance in our working economy.  We want to help create a workforce where freelancers, freethinkers and independents have equality. That’s why we’re petitioning government. We want to help the government connect with this thriving group and make working for yourself something that you aspire to.

You can sign the petition here. It might just be the first step towards making working for yourself equal again.

About Kindred HQ

Kindred HQ is a place where you’ll find people who have a similar attitude to life.  Where you will be able to talk about the things that you find hard, share in successful moments, make serious connections and have fun at the same time.

Photo courtesy of istockphoto

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Facebook updates your email. Did you know?

facebook updates your email

Facebook updates your email & doesn't say a word

Oh, this is rather interesting/annoying/down right frustrating…

Did you know your email address has been changed by Facebook? Not only do you have the email that you registered with FB when you set up an account, now Facebook have gone and added their own version to your account.

Really! I know!

Nikki Pilkington has written this great piece, so I don’t feel as though I need to reinvent the wheel. Here’s her post on this subject and what you need to do to rectify it.

And me? Well, it’s just another reason to go back to the gorgeous stationers in Coimbra and buy more writing paper. Old skool it may be, but letter writing may just be making a comeback!

 

 

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Why I am no longer a VA

No longer a VA

If not 'VA', then what?

This post is partly inspired by my friend Marta Ramos López over at Vitamina Oficina.

Last week I was talking to a client about how little like an assistant I was. There’s very little instruction given between her and I, let alone giving orders or telling me what to do. For her, at least, I am more of a sounding board, a partner that she can turn to with strange ideas and I won’t judge or belittle her or be the ‘Yes’ girl. For this client, I am someone that she can rely on to add value to her company and her life and for that she’s grateful.

I have been thinking for a while that ‘Virtual Assistant’ doesn’t do justice to what I do for and with my clients. Yes, I ‘assist’, but there’s more to it than that.

For a number of clients, I have been with them since the inception of their business and we have grown together. I am a partner in their business; someone who wants their business to succeed and who has invested time and other resources in making their business what it is today.

For other clients, I am their lynchpin. One client is the chair of this and sits on the board of that; at times she doesn’t know whether she’s coming or going. We joke that I am her boss; that without me she would be floundering around Euston station, unsure of which train to catch to where.

There’s still an awful lot of confusion about what a virtual assistant can do. The idea that you can be remote, but still connected, leaves a lot of people confused. “If I can’t see you, how do I know you are working?” is something I hear often. You don’t, but the proof is in the pudding, so to speak.

Working with a virtual assistant or a business administrator, I am sure, saves my clients time and money. Working with someone that can give more attention to a project or bring a different view to the table surely adds value to their business. Having someone who understands their business from the inside must be reassuring, especially when that someone is more systematic and process focussed, speaks a different language or has a different network to tap into.

But what else to call myself? A business administrator? A virtual manager? Off site business support? How to clearly and concisely express what I do for people, how I add value to their business, in a way that the man on the street will understand?

I’ve overhauled my website, which I hope you like. In these pages, there are more references to working with a business administrator than a virtual assistant. But if people are still searching for the term, ‘virtual assistant’ that doesn’t help me very much!

Any suggestions?

About the Author:
Emma Crabtree is the owner and sole-operator of Red Box Virtual Office, a off-site business support service.  Red Box Virtual Office can enable you to free yourself from the day to day admin of your business so that you can focus on what you enjoy and what makes you money.  Find out more

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5 Tell Tale Signs you Need a VA

Virtual assistant support

Need Support?

I subscribe to Ali Brown‘s newsletter. And while sometimes she does come over a bit too LA for me, I do admire her style and drive.

Recently she published a piece about hiring an assistant which rang so many bells with me.  One of the biggest ‘battles’ I have when winning over clients is the “Oh, if I have to teach you to do this, I might as well do it myself,” attitude.

Of course, DIY for a small, growing business is just nuts, but I do understand that many, many people don’t want the complications of working with an assistant, virtual or otherwise. Either because they think training us is just too time consuming, or because they feel as thought they can’t justify the outlay.

To both I say, ‘get over yourself.’ If you’re doing the fiddly, time consuming jobs, that don’t pay you a penny, who’s bringing home the bacon? And what are you forgetting to do? Attend a meeting or you child’s pageant? And what about that business of yours, the one you started and were so proud of? What’s happening to that if you’re not out there being the face and star of the show?

Here’s Ali’s blog post.

I often see my entrepreneur clients fall prey to a stubborn mindset: they strongly resist the idea of hiring help. Women entrepreneurs especially get stuck here.

But the truth is, trying to do it all yourself doesn’t make you a better business owner. In fact, it can hurt your business growth and throw your personal life off balance. An assistant can help you manage your business more efficiently, freeing you to focus on the big picture.

Here are FIVE tell-tale signs that you need to get help asap:

1. You forget to perform tasks, like updating your website or confirming appointments. Imagine how much better off your business would be if these routine tasks didn’t fall through the cracks. You’d stay above your competition, be recognized for your stellar customer service, and maintain a solid reputation in your industry. An assistant can easily be trained to help with online marketing and scheduling so that these business functions always happen when they should.

2. You waste time looking for lost documents or emails. Entrepreneurs’ inboxes are usually overflowing with correspondence with clients, industry newsfeed updates, e-zines, and more. If you find that you’re losing track of important items, like invoices and invitations, it’s time to have someone come in to help. An assistant can take these items off your plate, so you don’t miss payments or make costly administrative mistakes.

3. You don’t have time to see family or friends. When you find yourself missing out on brunches or birthday parties in favor of work, then it might be time to re-prioritize. Hiring an assistant, even one who works just a few hours a week, frees you up to focus on what matters, like spending time with loved ones and experiencing those once-in-a-lifetime moments first-hand.

4. Your billable rate is higher than an assistant. Let’s say that you bill client at $100/hour and your assistant bills you $20/hour. Rather than taking time away from your paying clients to send out invoices or book appointments, pay an assistant her $20/hour while you earn $100/hour from your clients. Even after you pay your assistant, you’ll still bring in $80/hour that you otherwise wouldn’t have time to earn.

5. You’ve been putting off tasks that you dislike. Most of us have tasks we dread doing. Some people hate filing other people can’t stand writing promotional copy. The great news is, there are people out there who actually LIKE doing what you despise, so why not bring them on to handle these tasks with passion and dedication?  All it takes is a little legwork to find someone you trust to get the job done.

“Entrepreneur mentor Ali Brown teaches women around the world how to start and grow a profitable business that make a positive impact. Get her FREE CD “Top 10 Secrets for Entrepreneurial Women” at www.AliBrown.com

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Big Girls Do Cry – At Work

I read this post from The Wall Street Journal (about showing one’s emotions at work) with a wry grin.

Many a time have I lost it in the loo and had to bawl my eyes out over one thing or another. My most memorable occasion was in my first job in London, at English Churches, being told by my line manager, Keith Hickford, that I needed to tone myself down, be less overbearing and loud and be more restrained and refined in my dealings with staff.

Basically he was telling a 21 yr old not to be herself!

Whether you cry or lose your composure because you’re blamed for something that wasn’t your fault, there’s a stigma attached to emotional responses in the workplace.

More…

I’m thankful that if I am feeling blue, I can take a few hours or a few days away from Red Box and compose myself. It’s rare that I break down in front of a client, but never say never. Working with a virtual assistant may be just what you’re looking for if you want to put some distance between yourself and that client that wants to chew your ear off…

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