National Handwriting Day

With today’s technology and the fast pace world, there seems little need for handwriting documents.

I love it, always have. At primary school we had handwriting lessons, copying poems written in script style writing. A little while ago I took the opportunity to do some training in modern calligraphy, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

There are many times when handwriting is still needed. Here are some examples:

      • Invitations to weddings, parties and events.
      • Gift tags, to give a more personal look.
      • Table place cards.
      • Thank you letters.
      • Menus
      • Christmas Cards to business clients.


Strawberry Office offers a handwriting service either in everyday handwriting or modern calligraphy.
For more information, please send email

Thank you for reading


Visiting the Farm Business Innovation Show 2019

Earlier this week I attended the Farm Business Innovation Show, at the National Exhibition Centre Birmingham. It was a super day, not only were there many great exhibitor stands, there was also an extensive programme of seminars. Two of the ones that I attended were Tara Punter of Tara Punter PR, and Kelly Chandler, wedding consultant. Tara talked about her five golden rules for PR, and Kelly talked about the current and future trends for arranging weddings. Both really interesting subjects and will certainly help me and my business.

Attending the show made me think about all the preparation beforehand and how much time is taken up with it.

As a virtual assistant it also made me think of how I could help rural business owners plan for this kind of event, and that turned into a list of things I could help with, for instance:

  • Booking and registering for tickets.
  • Researching travel and accommodation.
  • Booking accommodation.
  • Researching parking and arrival at the venue. Not all venues are as straight forward as the NEC!
  • Planning your schedule.
  • Booking meetings with exhibitors or visitors.
  • Assisting with last minute changes.

After the event

  • Transcribing notes from meetings.
  • Sending information.


Thank you for reading



Anne Clarkson of Strawberry Office provides flexible administrative support services to small businesses.  If you are interested in outsourcing your administrative work contact me by email at to arrange a free Discovery Call.


How do I outsource my business office support?

When you set up your business you were not only doing something you were skilled in and enjoyed, but also the business administration. As your business has grown the amount of administrative work has increased too. This probably means you are not spending as much time marketing your business as you would like, and you may be feeling stressed and overwhelmed. You could change this by outsourcing your routine administration.

Consider how much time you spend on routine office work each week, and consider what you could do with that extra time. Imagine how that time could be spent working on your business and achieving your goals.

If you are considering outsourcing your admin to a Virtual Assistant here is what you need to do.

List all the administrative tasks that you do.

For each task, ask yourself three questions:

            • Do I need to do this?
            • Do I have the time?
            • Do I like doing this?

If you answer ‘No’ to them, then you need to outsource them.

To give you some ideas, here are some examples of the tasks you could outsource:

            • Diary Management.
            • Arranging client meetings and producing the documentation.
            • Research suppliers.
            • Audio Transcription – could be of meetings, webinars, podcasts, clients notes, eBooks.
            • Setting up social media accounts (eg Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn)
            • Creating social media posts (using your content)
            • Scheduling social Media posts.
            • Travel research.
            • Creating Powerpoint Presentations.
            • Creating Blog posts (using your content)
            • Creating reports and various documents.

Once you have decided what you can outsource, you could seek the assistance of a Virtual Assistant to undertake these either on an ad hoc hourly basis, or for a regular number of hours per month. This would be discussed in a Discovery Call with a potential Virtual Assistant to establish what kind of support you need.

Thank you for reading.



Anne Clarkson of Strawberry Office provides flexible administrative support services to small businesses.  If you are interested in outsourcing your administrative work contact me by email at to arrange a free Discovery Call.


How can a Virtual Assistant help me?

Back in January you may have decided upon your goals for this year, a few months, or next year.

We are now half way through the year; how are they going?  Are you achieving them as quickly as you had planned?

If not, have you considered outsourcing your routine administration to free up some of your time?

You may be thinking you can do all the work for your business yourself, but have you considered how much time you spend on your administration each week, and more importantly, what you could do in that time to achieve your goals.

When you set up your business it was probably doing something you are skilled in and enjoy.  As your business has grown you have had to undertake the business administration, sometimes learning how do things as you go along.

There may be tasks that you just don’t like doing and keep putting off.

A Virtual Assistant has the skills, knowledge and expertise to do those tasks.  They will be skilled, and up to date with the latest tools and systems.

By outsourcing your administration to a Virtual Assistant you can:

  • Be more focused
  • Be more organised
  • Increase productivity or sales
  • Have the time to spend at networking events
  • Have more time to spend with your family, doing hobbies, or just resting.

Here are examples of the tasks they could do for you:

Social Media

Setting up new accounts

Creating social media posts

Scheduling social media posts


Arranging meetings – researching and booking the venue

Preparing the documentation

Creating PowerPoint presentations

Typing up the minutes


Researching travel – accommodation, trains, flights, places to visit

Helping you to be organised by creating travel information packs


Assisting with event planning

Researching venues, suppliers and services

Distributing invitations and coordinating the responses


Producing documents – creating forms, templates, letters, reports


Transcribing webinars

Audio transcription for meetings and webinars

Copy  typing, including e-Books

Copy typing clients notes

Lifestyle Management

Booking Restaurants

Researching gifts

Diary Management

Booking appointments


Thank you for reading



Anne Clarkson of Strawberry Office provides flexible administrative support services to small businesses.  If you are interested in outsourcing your administrative work contact me by email at to arrange a free Discovery Call.


8 Tips for Attending a Conference

Attending business or trade shows is a great way to connect with businesses, network and learn new skills.  Here are some of my tips to help you prepare for your next conference.

1  Plan ahead.   Preparing ahead is so important. as time spent preparing and planning will help to ensure you arrive in a calm, organised and timely manner. Time spent planning your travel and accommodation will also help to make sure you find the most cost-effective options.

2.  Study the agenda.   Have a plan for the day to make the most of your time. Plan which seminars you will be attending, and check who is attending.  Many conferences have social media accounts specifically for the event, which provides a great opportunity to connect with businesses prior to the event.

3.  Print your tickets.   Another option is to download to your phone.  However, don’t forget to have the image of the tickets saved in an option that does not rely on access to the internet.  As there may not be a connection at the entrance / registration area.

4.  Business cards.   Remember to take a good supply.

5.  Arrival at the Venue.   Arrive early to avoid spending time in a queue at registration, and to maximise your time at the event.

6.  Event Venue.   Familiarise yourself with the layout of the event to save time and ensure you are in the right place at the right time.

During the Conference

7. Take Notes.  Write notes on the back of business cards as a reminder when following up at a later date. Or if you prefer a digital option use a system such as Evernote to make notes, creating a notebook specifically for the conference.

After the Conference

8. Follow up.   Follow up on connections made, ideally the day after the conference whilst it is still fresh in everyone’s mind.


Thank you for reading.



Anne Clarkson of Strawberry Office provides flexible administrative support services to small businesses.  If you would like help with planning your next visit to a conference or business event, contact me by email at to arrange a free Discovery Call to discuss how I can help you.



Do you need to clear your Inbox?

Do you dread opening your email account because it is clogged up with hundreds of messages? Do you feel overwhelmed by an ever-growing list of incoming emails?

Not only is the beginning of the year a good time for setting goals, it is also the perfect time to clear out your email Inbox and take steps to make it more manageable.

Here are some tips for cleaning out your inbox, and then putting steps in place to make incoming messages more manageable.

1.  Delete in Batches

To make it easier, and quicker, to delete messages that are no longer required, sort your Inbox by sender.  You can then work through and delete the messages in batches. Eg newsletters, junk mail.

2.  Create folders for archiving

For the remaining messages, create new folders and label them in an appropriate way for your messages such as one for each previous year, or months. Sort the inbox by date. Highlight the emails for a particular year or month and drag them across to the corresponding folder. You can then work through the more recent ones when you have the opportunity, or use them just as a reference if you have a query. If you have not used or looked at them in six months’ time – delete them.

3.  Unsubscribe

To reduce the volume of incoming messages, unsubscribe to unnecessary newsletters and messages.  Another option is to create another email account and only use that account for subscribing to newsletters.

4.  Create new folders

To manage the incoming messages, create new folders for types of messages or specific senders.

5.  Set up rules

To save time, create rules for incoming messages so that they divert straight in to your new folders.  By monitoring when there are unread messages in those folders, you can read them by subject or priority.


Strawberry Office provides administrative support to small businesses, and lifestyle management to busy people.

If you would like help with reducing your inbox, and setting up new systems for managing your incoming messages, please contact me at to arrange a discovery call to discuss how I could help.


Thank you for reading.


8 Interesting Facts about Christmas Cards

Whilst planning my Christmas card writing service, I came across some interesting facts about Christmas cards and thought I would share them with you.

Who invented the Christmas Card?

Well, back in the Victorian period the tradition was to send a letter to family and friends at Christmas.  Sir Henry Cole a founding director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, was also a great supporter of the introduction of the Penny Post on 1840.  In 1843 he received large quantities of letters and was concerned that he would not be able to reply to them all, which would have been considered rude.

He wanted to find a quicker way of replying to his letters, and decided to use a card to write a short message.  He commissioned John Callott Horsley to paint a picture for the front of his card, which was in the style of a postcard and the size was 5 1/8 by 3 3/4 inches.

He commissioned one thousand cards, and the surplus cards were sold for one shilling, making them the first commercial Christmas Cards.

When did the format change to a book format?

People found that they wanted to write longer messages and didn’t have room on the postcard style.  In 1915 a Kansas Card Company, the Hall Brothers Company which later became Hallmark, designed the book style format we have today.  They were 4 by 6 inches and folded to fit in an envelope.

Why are robins featured on cards?

In the Victorian period postmen wore red waistcoats and were nicknamed “Robins” and this is why cards often show a robin delivering the post.

How many cards were sold in the UK?

In 1880 following the introduction of the Half Penny postage approximately 11.5 million cards were sent.

In 2017 one billion cards were sold in the UK, including 100 million single Christmas cards, and 900 million in boxes.

Charities estimate that £50 million is raised for good causes.

Thank you for reading.



Strawberry Office provides flexible, virtual, administrative support to small businesses, and support with lifestyle management.

If you are struggling to find the time to write your cards, Strawberry Office has a Christmas Card Writing Service, and more details can be found on the Strawberry Office website.


I’ve heard the term VA, but what is a Virtual Assistant?

Whilst attending networking events, I have noticed that not many people are familiar with the term Virtual Assistant.  Indeed, I think some may think is it some form of robot or virtual online help, perhaps built into a car.  So I thought I would write a few lines to explain.

Where did the term come from?

It is believed that the term Virtual Assistant was first used by Thomas Leonard, a coach and speaker, who founded Coach U.  He travelled throughout the US living in a Winnebago and had an assistant who helped arrange his travel.  With no physical office, and constantly travelling, he never met his assistant, Anastacia Brice, and once referred to her as his “Virtual Assistant”. He continued to use the term and encouraged other coaches to have a VA to assist with their businesses.

Who was the first VA?

Having done some research, there doesn’t seem to be a definitive answer, but two of the pioneering VAs were Anastacia Brice and Christine Durst.  Secretaries were working from home back in the 1980s, but with advances in computer technology in the 1990s it became possible to provide administrative support further afield, even to other countries, hence the term ‘Virtual’ Assistant.

Stacey Bryce went on from being a VA for Thomas Leonard to establishing the VA training business, AssistU, and Christine Durst wrote “The 2-Second Commute” book.

What does a VA do?

A Virtual Assistant is someone who is self-employed, works from their own office, providing administrative support to business owners, or busy people, in any location.
They may provide traditional PA support or specialise in a particular skill such as social media management, book keeping, or an IT system like Mailchimp or WordPress.

Support is usually provided on an hourly basis, by the project, or on an hourly retainer package, which provides great flexibility, especially for small businesses.

Thank you for reading.



The 2-second commute by Christine Durst & Michael Haaren
Become a Highly Successful, Sought After VA by Diana Ennen & Kelly Poelker