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What in the world is a Virtual Assistant?

I’ve noticed that when people ask me “What do you do?” and I say “I run my own business working from home as a Virtual Assistant?” they always say “Virtual Assistant, what is that?” and that’s usually followed by “How cool! I would love to work from home!”. I’ve gotten pretty used to it now but it nevertheless always takes me a bit by surprise, especially when someone like my doctor has never heard of a Virtual Assistant. It seems that even though we are surrounded by a world full of technology many still have not heard of this concept and don’t quite understand it.

But it’s really such a logical step in a world where most of the things we do are already virtual. I’ll give you a few examples. When is the last time you set foot in a bank? Isn’t it true that most people deposit their checks virtually and go to their website, email, chat or call whenever they need help? Sure, if you are going to do a major transaction you may want to go in person, but really, how often does that happen? The truth is most people already use virtual services on a daily basis and just haven’t thought about it. That means that all these businesses, your bank, your cable company, and many others, already use virtual help. But you may say, “Well those are big corporations and I’m a small business owner or 1 man/woman show.” I’m going to tell you why it makes extra sense for you. First, let me give you an idea of what I do.

So what do I, as a Virtual Assistant, working from home do? Very simply, I help small business owners run their businesses doing behind the scenes work that doesn’t involve a physical presence. That means I can provide Customer Service, via phone, email, web chat, even text message. I handle scheduling, post to social media, make website edits/additions, write posts, follow up with customers to get reviews, etc. There is so much more that I do and offer in terms of services, but to keep it short, basically anything that is needed to keep your business running smoothly except in-person transactions or interactions. I have a home office that is dedicated only to this and is fully equipped to efficiently provide the services I offer. I also employ two assistants that help me and am looking to expand this year to a third.

So as a small business, how is this a viable solution for you?

Well, it just makes sense financially and logistically. The technology exists and is readily available to facilitate having remote workers so why some small businesses for example have the extra expense of office space is mind boggling. I’ve met small business owners that pay a rent for an office space they never set foot in. It’s only there for someone to sit in it and answer their phones and/or file papers and receive mail. They like having a “business address” they can put on their website and business cards. They like seeing the person physically there because some how they feel this gives them some sense of control. But is it worth what they are paying and do they really have more control over a person they can physically see? The answer is no. And here’s why.

When you, as a small business owner, have to provide the office space, the costs go beyond just the rent. You are now responsible for providing everything that is needed to make the work possible. In addition to rent you will need to pay for an provide the computer, the internet service, the phone service, the printer, the ink, the paper, the light, the water…adding up yet? Now let’s not forget the additional expenses a traditional employee brings with it. If you have a full-time employee you are going to be required to pay Medicare and social security taxes on their behalf, workman’s compensation benefits and you may also have to provide medical insurance, sick pay, holiday pay, and paid leave. Sounding so great? Not so much. Plus, when that person calls in sick, who’s going to handle their tasks for you? How are you going to get coverage last minute? That puts a small business owner in a bind real fast.

What’s the difference when you use the services of a Virtual Assistant?

Well, first of all, you’re not hiring an employee but contracting a service. You are the client and the Virtual Assistant is a small business owner, just like you. Keeping our clients happy is our priority. There is a level of responsibility and respect that goes into the relationship that is different than the one that you will have with an employee. You tell me what your goals are, what things you need done, and I have the responsibility to provide the agreed upon outcome in order to keep my client and possibly even get referrals down the line. I use my own resources, not yours, to make it happen. You don’t have to pay any government taxes or fees on my behalf, there’s no workman’s compensation, benefits or paid leave to deal with. There’s no calling in sick (that’s why I have help to cover all basis).

“But wait, I like it when the person is there, so I can make sure that he or she is doing their work and I’m getting the bang for my buck.” Are you sure about that? Unless you are sitting there physically watching them for their entire shift, how do you really know you are getting the most help possible for the amount of money you are paying? And watching them the entire time, or paying to have them supervised, well, that’s just additional money you to have spend. How do you know they aren’t playing on their phones or in social media for parts of the day? You’re paying a hefty price to have them physically in a place but you can’t really be sure. Can you?

How am I different? Some Virtual Assistants work hourly. However, I don’t. After we’ve both determined what services you will need, what the desired outcomes and goals are, I set a package price that can be measured by actual results, not hours. This way, either the work is done, or it’s not. And that’s how you will know if you are getting the bang for your buck without having to worry about tracking hours. For my clients and I that just makes more sense. It’s a peace of mind for both not tracking hours.

While use of a Virtual Assistant has many advantages, it’s also not the solution for everyone. Some people really do require a physical presence in the office, and even then, some of the things can be outsourced to a Virtual Assistant to save some money. But because it’s not for everyone, I don’t work with everyone that asks. I seek long term work relationships so it has to be a fit for both you and I. The work relationship ought to be in your best interest, not only mine. Remember, I want my clients to be happy so that they keep coming back and send me other clients. So I go above and beyond to make sure you it works for you, just as much as me. The best way to determine this is by contacting me and setting up a free, no obligation initial consultation. I will send you a detailed questionnaire that will take you about 15-20 minutes to answer. This questionnaire will help us both better understand where you are in your business and what services you could use to advance towards your goals. Again, it’s free and you have nothing to lose for inquiring. Ready to find out more? Contact me here.

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