Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Challenges Faced By Work-At-Homers In South Africa, By Gaynor Paynter

A very warm welcome to Gaynor Paynter, a writer and transcriptionist living in Johannesburg, South Africa. Gaynor is one of the very good friends that I made online.

We "met" on a forum women who work at home in 2000, I think. Met once in person around 2002/3, and by some twist of fate, recently ended up living near each other.

More than being a friend, Gaynor has a thorough understanding of the challenges creative profesionals and businesss owners who work from home face. She is the owner of Typewrite Transcription and Typing Services CC, has self-published a book entitled " Working from home as a trancriptionist in South Africa."

Hopefully, some of the points she raises will those of you who are dreaming/planning to launch home-based businesses at some stage. Thanks Gaynor for joining us.

Hello everybody. I’m honoured to have been asked by Damaria Senne, whom I hold in probably the highest regard it is to hold a writer and fellow work at homer in South Africa, to write a guest post for her blog, and I hope what I’m going to say will be interesting to you. I’m also happy to answer questions that you might have, and welcome any comments, too.

My name is Gaynor Paynter and I work from home as a transcriptionist (primarily) but also offer other virtual services such as typing, Afrikaans to English translation, proofreading and editing. I’m also comoderator of a forum for transcriptionists and VAs in South Africa (TAVASA – www.tavasa.co.za) I combine this with being a wife and a mother of two kids aged 8 and 11. What I would like to talk about today is the particular challenges that face all work at homers in South Africa with references to my own personal experience, and put forward ways in which we may be able to overcome these.

I started out as a transcriptionist in 2005, from my home office, and I was lucky enough to find an invaluable source of support, Joan Masterson’s Women At Work Forum, which was a general support forum for South African work at homers and where I made wonderful connections with many people, including Joan Masterson (of course), Damaria Senne, whom you know to be the author of this blog, and Alison Fourie, who is together with me the comoderator of the TAVASA forum.

Starting out as a transcriptionist in 2005 was, quite frankly, hard enough, even with the support of these wonderful mentors, and it was the realization of this last year that got me thinking that it would be beneficial to many to try to myself provide support to newbies and, if possible, be a mentor. This, together with a second realization – that there are issues in South Africa that are common to ALL work at homers – writers, transcriptionists, VAs, proofreaders, translators, etc. was quite an eye opener to me.

I believe that common issues facing all home workers in South Africa include (but are not limited to):

- Eskom
- Telkom
- Internet service provider issues
- Safety issues (how to get the work if you’re not comfortable with receiving unknown clients at your house)
- Receiving payments from international clients
- Improving standards in our industries.

Many of us know that it is very hard to tackle these issues without any form of support, or place to vent, for that matter. And here is where the another side to the all important activity of networking comes in. Yes – networking can get you clients. But it can also get you support.

How better to handle these issues than to have a network of experienced contacts in a variety of industries? Maybe you’re having continual problems with your ISP but don’t know where to go … and maybe, just maybe, there would be someone out there who can advise you. Maybe somebody else out there is having a problem with electricity supply and you have a suggestion about alternative energy.

How will this information be spread if we do not know about each other? Not that I’m saying we have answers to all of these constraints … but many heads put together certainly make the load easier, and information spread between industries can only be beneficial. It can also assist you when the time comes that your business is so successful that you need to sub-contract.

People ask me why I help newbie transcriptionists, when I’m a transcriptionist myself. They ask me if by helping the beginners, I’m not compromising my own business. My answer is to liken this to an experienced artisan training an apprentice. The new people are going to come anyway, and by sharing our knowledge, we can only improve our industry standards. If we don’t share our knowledge, how can we expect someone else to share theirs … and we’ll only have ourselves to blame when the industry collapses due to an influx of beginners blundering blindly along and making preventable mistakes.

So my advice to newbies or people struggling with the frustrations that these challenges provide (in whatever field you’re in) is to look to expand your network of contacts and ask relevant questions – and my request to experienced work at homers is to give advice to newbies – for the sake of all of us.

Places you can go to look to expand your network in South Africa include:


Gaynor Paynter
Typewrite Transcription and Typing Services CC
Cell: +27834424689
Web: www.typewritetranscription.co.za
TAVASA Cofounder and Moderator http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/tavasa/


Tamara said...

Good point, Gaynor.

I find that women are particularly reluctant to lend each other a hand in the workplace. We're great at empathy in our personal lives, but it seems like many women still feel the need to prove themselves in the work place and so they compete against each other instead of supporting each other.

Just my opinion.

Sandra van Statten said...

Thanks Damaria and Gaynor.

It is great to know that there is such a wonderful support system out there for us inexperienced VA's.

Before I found TAVASA I knew no-one in South Africa who I could speak to about this industry.

Thank you for sharing your knowledge so willingly.

Trish Donmall said...

Thanks Damaria and Gaynor.

While I've been in the business a while it wasn't till I found TAVASA that I felt I was no longer alone. I fully agree that having a reliable network of support is probably vital to the smooth running of a small business.

Gaynor Paynter said...

@ Tamara - so right. Sometimes women in the workplace can be a real hindrance to each other. I myself never saw the point of this. Particularly in our virtual industries and work from home industries, I believe our networks and contacts are kind of like our virtual office - in a way. Yes, we compete but it's kind of like an experienced artisan taking on an appie. If we don't teach people as we go along then the industry as a whole will suffer. If we help the less experienced, it's for the good of the industry and the country as a whole. Teach people proper standards and ethics and the international world will suddenly notice us getting a hell of a strong reputation and gravitate more towards us - and that can only be a good thing. But if many people conduct themselves unprofessionally here, the world is hardly likely to think we're worth their time and money. United we stand, and divided, we fall. We can build South Africa, together.

Gaynor Paynter said...

@ Sandra - it's a pleasure, and newbies make valuable contributions too, even though they may not realise it - they keep us sharp with what the current challenges and questions are.
@ Trish - Yep. We need it to vent the frustrations. I love the fact that I've been able to make so many different contacts in different professions and we all have some sort of common challenges and yet individual responses and solutions to contribute.

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