What is a Virtual Assistant?
A Virtual Assistant (VA) is the person you hire when you’ve gotten to the point in your business where you can no longer keep doing everything yourself; at least, not if you want to do things like sleep or have a personal life. A VA is a lifeline to busy entrepreneurs and small business owners who are drowning in the details and want to get back to big-picture work. I tell people that a VA is the superhero version of the typical administrative assistant. We do some of the same administrative work, such as managing emails and schedules, planning travel, creating spreadsheets, proofreading, and organizing files – but we do more than just handle tasks. We become a partner in your success; someone you can depend on to react quickly to what you already know you need, and to anticipate needs you didn’t even know were there. There are several definitions of Virtual Assistance out there, and the one I adhere to is simple: A VA provides high-quality administrative support to small business owners in a collaborative relationship, using the internet, email, phone, and other “virtual” means.
Why work with a VA?
VAs are experienced business owners.
We work with our clients as independent contractors, not as employees. We know what you’re going through as business owners because we’ve been there ourselves. Because of that, we’re choosy about what we do and whom we work with, and that freedom allows us to form incredibly powerful partnerships. Our goal is to work with a small number of clients, perhaps in a certain industry or niche, for a long time – maybe even the entire life of a client’s business. We select clients whose work style, values, goals, and interests are similar to our own, in order to provide maximum value. VAs form collaborative, lasting relationships with our clients that go way beyond the typical boss/assistant dynamic.
VAs work with clients, not for them.
VAs are self-motivated, highly skilled professionals. We come into client relationships not as employees waiting for assignments, but as partners, offering specific strategies for getting you where you want to be. A client doesn’t have to worry about getting his money’s worth from his VA. He doesn’t have to explain every task in minute detail, then hover over her to make sure she gets it right. He can count on her to help him through every stage of a project – from brainstorming, to research, to execution, to evaluating what could be done better next time – because she truly wants the best for him, not just because he’s paying her. A good client/VA relationship is one that generates a high level of trust and mutual respect – something that, sadly, is often missing in a typical boss/employee arrangement.
VAs work from our own homes or offices.
We use our own equipment, software, and resources, and we deliver nearly all of our work by email, phone, fax, or mail. That doesn’t mean we won’t come and help you with your next big event or office relocation; it’s just not typically how we work. Some VAs have never met their clients and don’t even live in the same city (or state, or country)! The best part of having a virtual relationship? You don’t have to buy another computer, find space for me to work in, or change your work-in-my-pajamas-on-Mondays routine. You also don’t have to worry about keeping me busy 40 hours a week. You pay only for the hours I actually work.
VAs are internet experts.
We know how to take a client’s business to the next level using the latest technology – and good old business savvy. We help clients manage their websites, blogs, marketing campaigns, email messages, calendars, travel arrangements, events, documents, and much more, using the internet as our primary tool. If it can be done, a VA can either do it herself, find another qualified professional to do it, or help her client formulate plan B.
VAs take responsibility for our own education.
We are committed to continuing education (our businesses depend upon it!), and AssistU VAs have an unsurpassed network of like-minded professionals with whom we can share ideas and get help. The best part? Since the client isn’t the “boss”, he doesn’t have to figure out what training his VA needs, and he doesn’t have to pay for it.
Should I hire a Virtual Assistant?
Virtual Assistance works best for clients who can say “yes” to the following questions:
- Are you ready to hand over some of the items on your to-do list, so that you can focus on what you love to do?
- Can you express yourself effectively in a “virtual” environment (email, instant message, phone)?
- Are you looking for someone to collaborate with, rather than someone to whom you will simply delegate tasks?
- Are you in a good position financially? Will you be able to easily afford the services of a VA (more on that next)?
- Are you open to new ideas and new ways of doing things?
- Are you ready to get out of crisis mode and start building reserves of time, energy, and money?
If you answered “yes” to most of those, you’re ready to get started! Now, as I said earlier, VAs are pretty picky about whom we work with, and we think you should be too! Don’t settle for a VA if you don’t feel like she is a good fit. You can find out more about me over on the About Me page. Then, if you think we’re a match, it’s time to start the interview process! If not, there are many VA referral services online; I suggest starting with the AssistU registry.
Sounds expensive. Is it?
I know how it is: everything sounds great until you find out the price, and then…it just sounds expensive. I can’t honestly say whether you’ll think my fees are reasonable, but I can assure you that I’m worth every penny. (I know, everyone says that, don’t they?) I have everything it takes – the experience, the knowledge, the emotional maturity, the insatiable curiosity – to be your right-hand man. Or woman, technically. That being said, I also know that when you compare my fees to the cost of hiring an in-office administrative assistant (with all of the associated expense, such as equipment, benefits, and paying for down time), or to the fees charged by other VAs, I’m very reasonable. Take a look at the rest of my site and get to know me a little bit. Think about what I can do, and what we could do together. Let THAT, not my hourly rate, be the deciding factor.