Make Connections

Network, Get Answers, Find Members in Your Area, and More!

Forums » Selecting a Business for Yourself

VAs: Virtual Assistants

    • 5 posts
    November 3, 2006 11:13 AM EST

    Danielle,

    What an eye opener. I had not heard of a virtual assistant prior to reading the thread on SUN! I had some people that thought I was way out there when I made my plans to use an independent percent/fee based HR firm to handle all of payroll and benefits. I am presntly making all of my Grand Opening plans so look forward to doingmore research and using the right combination of VA as well as other staff.

    I am certain that there are some horro stories out there as well and your article was a great help in pointing out some of the potential pitfalls to avoid as well.

    Thanks

     

    ---
    Providing the Methods of Protecting Every Modern Family's Legacy from Loss

    • 7 posts
    October 30, 2006 9:56 AM EST

    Hello everyone,

    Virtual assistants look like an interesting possibility, could someone please answer the following:

    What are typical fees for a virtual assistant?

    Do VA`s juggle several businesses at once? If so how would they know which customer the incoming telephone call is for?

    Thanks

    • 7 posts
    October 31, 2006 12:48 AM EST
    Wow - $35-$100/hr seems kind of steep considering you can probably find an "in-person" assistant for half that much. Even if you factor in benefits and work space your still paying less for a dedicated employee....
    • 7 posts
    October 31, 2006 5:43 AM EST
    Regarding "internet surfing, socializing, hour long lunches or frequent trips to the washroom." - I think you would have the same problem or even worse with a virtual assistant because you can`t even see them!
    • 11 posts
    November 1, 2006 1:33 AM EST

    Hello to Everyone

    I`ve just joined Startup Nation and I`m thrilled to see such a lively discussion about the benefits of engaging a Virtual Assistant (VA).  As Danielle, Tawnya and others have posted here, a VA is completely different from an employee.  VAs offer their clients the administrative expertise that is accumulated through years of experience.  The majority of VAs offer specialized skills that a typical employee may not have without additional training or close supervision. 

    VAs are small business owners.  We have the unique understanding of all the aspects of running a successful business and can offer much more than an employee who is performing a specific task.  We are wholly vested in your success, whereas an employee is more or less focused on their specific job function.  I would encourage everyone here to visit the Virtual Assistance Chamber of Commerce (www.virtualassistantnetworking.com) and Virtual Assistant Networking Forum (www.vanetworking.com) to learn more about how a VA can truly benefit you and your company.

    From reading the thread here, it appears some folks are confused about the role a VA plays in your business.  CraigL posted a great analogy about the four partners who completed a bid proposal within 48 hours.  VAs do offer specific expertise in many cases; and you may find that working with more than one VA gives you the complete support you need.  For example, you may engage a VA who has the specific knowledge, skills and abilities to increase your marketing results and engage another to manage your daily emails, phone calls and general inquiries.  Similar to hiring an accountant to handle all of your financial needs and hiring a lawyer to ensure your contracts meet all legal requirements.

    You do save money, as Tawyna illustrated so well.  In return, you gain time and energy to focus on growing your business instead of spending 40% (or more) of your time on non-revenue generating tasks.  It may take time to find the perfect VA, and I second the advice from Rebecca at EliteVAs to build rapport, do your research, don`t settle, and do communicate.  

    I do not know of one business owner or executive who is easily able to `let go` of all of the details their business requires.  It is, after all, their dream and their passion.  However, once you begin talking with VAs and communicating your needs, you will see how much more they can help you live your dream.  Finding the perfect VA is like finding the perfect business partner.  Yes, we do work with multiple clients and yes, we remain thoroughly committed to each one.  Helping you achieve your success is what makes our jobs so rewarding!

    Thanks for the forum... I`m looking forward to more discussion!   

    Danielle

     

    TaylorMade2006-11-2 8:10:2

    ---
    Danielle Taylor *
    Taylor-Made Virtual Assistance *
    Real Virtual Solutions for Real Business Needs *
    http://www.TaylorVA.com

    • 11 posts
    November 2, 2006 1:34 AM EST


    Although many Administrative Assistants handle phones, very few Receptionists handle admin. work. Based on some work I`m currently doing, I would say the distinguishing factor is that an Administrative Assistant has a strong sense of business processes, and how individual tasks and project work directly relates to the overall function of the business itself.

    It`s not easy to provide hard evidence that someone can make the leap of knowledge as to how getting 50 binders put together by a certain time affects the overall business. A VA or Admin understands that connection between getting a proposal in on deadline and those binders. A clerk, receptionist, or "task-oriented" person who needs supervision generally only knows that if the binders aren`t completed, they`ll get a "bad mark" for the day.

    One of the leading problems in the IT field is to "somehow" teach employees in that area how to develop a better understanding and comprehension of these so-called business processes. How to perceive the connection between their work and the actual function of the business. A good VA comes with a sophisticated understanding of business---being that they`re an independent business person themselves.

    Dear CraigL,

    Thank you for clarifying your understanding of a VA!  It is absolutely true that VAs have the in-depth understanding of business processes and how they affect the success of an organization.  It is not only in the IT field that a better understanding of business flows and organizational strategy is required.  My personal experience has been that almost any industry does not have a thorough understanding about the importance of administrative work to the success of the business.  Many business owners and corporate leaders view administrative professionals as `task oriented` when in fact, they contribute so much more expertise.  As a small example, a person whose sole task is to answer phones, forward calls and/or take messages may not realize that the person on the other end of the phone is the ONE person whose call must be taken. 

    VAs develop long-term, mutually trusting relationships with our clients and have a complete understanding of their needs.  This is the key to helping them achieve their strategic goals and freeing their time to focus on their priorities.

    Take Care,

    Danielle (Taylor)

     

    ---
    Danielle Taylor *
    Taylor-Made Virtual Assistance *
    Real Virtual Solutions for Real Business Needs *
    http://www.TaylorVA.com

    • 11 posts
    November 2, 2006 1:53 AM EST

    Do any of you "specialize" in certain areas of business? I know many VAs do specialize their services - just wondering if any here at SuN do?

    Thanks and have a great day!

    R@

    Hi, R@

    I have not yet had the pleasure of working with sales professionals.  However, I do offer "specialized" services.  My technical services include contract administration and operations management.  These are services that I have become highly specialized in during my years as an executive assistant and are, I believe, cornerstones of most every business. 

    I`m sure other VAs will respond, and I know from my involvement in the Virtual Assistance Chamber of Commerce that VAs offer a wide variety of specializations from marketing to SEO to desktop publishing, and beyond.

    Take Care,

    Danielle (T)

    ---
    Danielle Taylor *
    Taylor-Made Virtual Assistance *
    Real Virtual Solutions for Real Business Needs *
    http://www.TaylorVA.com

    • 4 posts
    August 10, 2007 4:15 AM EDT

    Hi everyone.

    I have already introduced myself elsewhere on SuN, so I won`t do it again.  There are a lot of us out there with varying levels of skills and experience.  I just want to re-iterate that it is important to shop around and find the best fit for you and your business.  I am a member at VANA (created by fllow SuN member Tawnya Sutherland) and it is a great place to learn about the VA industry and if you need a virtual assistant (I think everyone does) you can post an RFP at VANA to find a VA.

    I also thought I would mention that I recently started the Blog Carnival of Virtual Assistants.  It is posted on the first Sunday of each month on a different VA Blog.  A link for each month`s edition will be posted at my blog.  You can check out the first edition at: Carnival of Virtual Assistants - #1

    RightHandMan2007-8-10 9:17:12

    ---
    Right-Hand-Man
    Virtual Assistant Services
    www.righthandmanva.com

    "Partnering with you for YOUR SUCCESS!"

    • 11 posts
    October 6, 2008 8:57 AM EDT
    Hiring a virtual assistant is a great way to keep on task and stay organized. And it seems to me it makes good economic sense to stretch your dollars further by contractin out. For that matter, you can also have virtual office space when you need it. 

    New business owners have more flexibility today than ever before. The internet, mobile phones and all-in-ones have made home offices a reality. The key to being successful now is ensuring that you are always professionally represented. 

    Using Virtual Assistants and Virtual Offices creates a professional appearance and stretches your hiring dollar further.

    ---
    Jean Ann Van Krevelen, social media coach
    My Clients
    http://www.davincivirtual.com
    http://www.designcrafters.com
    My Biz
    http://www.edgyentrepreneur.com

    • 11 posts
    October 6, 2008 8:58 AM EDT
    And looking forward to connecting with other VA`s too!
    davincivirtual10/9/2008 12:14 PM

    ---
    Jean Ann Van Krevelen, social media coach
    My Clients
    http://www.davincivirtual.com
    http://www.designcrafters.com
    My Biz
    http://www.edgyentrepreneur.com

    • 1 posts
    October 31, 2006 5:21 AM EST

    I am a graduate of AssistU.   I love being a virtual assistant.  For someone who has been an administrative assistant for over 26 years in different venues, it was difficult for me to conceive the idea of being an independent contractor; moving out of the corporate box.

    If anyone needs information regarding virtual assistance, check out the AssistU`s website, it is the most comprehensive information on virtual assistance.  www.assistu.com.

    I hope to be doing this for the rest of my life!

    ---
    Gloria Henning, Virtual Assistant Consider It Done! VA Services P.O. Box 714 Bryantown, MD 20617 301-868-1841 Fax 815-301-8781 ________________________________________________ Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility. Dietrich Bonhoeffer ________________________________________________

  • jem
    • 4 posts
    October 27, 2006 4:02 AM EDT
    Thanks for the article.  For VAs who haven`t found it yet there is an active VA forum at http://www.virtualassistantnetworking.com.

    ---
    Janice - Splash Virtual Assistance

    • 1 posts
    October 31, 2006 11:38 AM EST
    Hi All,

    Just to clarify an earlier post, not all VAs are women, there are men who are also into the profession. I for one have been a part-time VA for more than 8 years now, and I`m happy to be among the VA community.

    If you`re a VA, whether you`re just starting or have been in business for a long time, joining an association will definitely help you a lot. There are several out there, and they are all very good for newcomers and veterans alike. The communities are very helpful, the interaction is great, and the knowledge you`ll gain is priceless.

    - Virtual Assistant Networking Forum (http://www.vanetworking.com/)
    - Virtual Assistance Chamber of Commerce (http://www.virtualassistantnetworking.com/)
    - Virtual Assistant Revolution (http://www.virtualassistantrevolution.com/)

    I`m proud to be a member of all these communities, and I`m proud to be a VA.

    Gabby
    distantsupport2006-11-1 18:31:27

    ---
    Distant Support Virtual Assistants - Distant Support you can rely on -

    • 344 posts
    October 26, 2006 3:35 PM EDT

    There has been numerous threads and posts here in the last few months about and by VAs - Virtual Assistants. This service niche has always interested me as I know a number of "momprenuers" who operate various versions of a VA business. I ran across an interesting article that relates the VA business to the real estate business. Might be something for established VAs and wannabe VAs to consider. Sounds like a pretty lucative avenue to me. Opens up other ideas for me to relate VA service to any sales organization.

    What to do when . . . You want to grow but can’t yet afford in-house staff

    Have a great weekend - I`m making it a long one - see ya next week.

    R@

    ---
    Richard Arnold · Key Concept Writers · Business Communication: The "Key" To Success· Law of Attraction Blog · Life Ain`t Brain Surgery Blog

    • 344 posts
    October 27, 2006 3:57 AM EDT

    Mia,

    Best wishes and much success in your new career. Maybe you VAs should start your own thread here at SuN. Seems to be quite a bit of interest and discussion on the subject.

    Have a great weekend! - R@

    ---
    Richard Arnold · Key Concept Writers · Business Communication: The "Key" To Success· Law of Attraction Blog · Life Ain`t Brain Surgery Blog

    • 344 posts
    October 30, 2006 11:31 AM EST

    Wow - I`ve been gone the last few days on a long weekend and appears we have some real VA pros hanging out here giving some great advice. Keep it up - I know others will appreciate the sharing of your knowledge and experience.

    R@

    ---
    Richard Arnold · Key Concept Writers · Business Communication: The "Key" To Success· Law of Attraction Blog · Life Ain`t Brain Surgery Blog

    • 344 posts
    October 31, 2006 6:45 AM EST

    Question to all of the established VAs posting on this thread:

    How do you take a break from being a VA? If you need a day off or are gone for a half day of appointments, what do you do?

    And what about a week or two vacation? Do you have other VAs that step in to help you out?

    Just wondering - Thanks - R@

    ---
    Richard Arnold · Key Concept Writers · Business Communication: The "Key" To Success· Law of Attraction Blog · Life Ain`t Brain Surgery Blog

    • 344 posts
    October 31, 2006 7:34 AM EST

    Renee & Tawyna - Thanks for your replies.

    R@

    ---
    Richard Arnold · Key Concept Writers · Business Communication: The "Key" To Success· Law of Attraction Blog · Life Ain`t Brain Surgery Blog

    • 344 posts
    October 31, 2006 8:38 AM EST
    Danielle - Thanks for your repsonse - R@

    ---
    Richard Arnold · Key Concept Writers · Business Communication: The "Key" To Success· Law of Attraction Blog · Life Ain`t Brain Surgery Blog

    • 344 posts
    November 2, 2006 1:20 AM EST

    Some questions for the VAs - I look forward to your replies.

    Do any of  you specialize in assisting sales professionals? Such as sales reps that are on the road, in the field, all the time?

    If so, what is the average amount of time a week you assist each client? And, what would be an average weekly billing for one of these clients?

    Do any of you "specialize" in certain areas of business? I know many VAs do specialize their services - just wondering if any here at SuN do?

    Thanks and have a great day!

    R@

    keycon2006-11-2 8:21:17

    ---
    Richard Arnold · Key Concept Writers · Business Communication: The "Key" To Success· Law of Attraction Blog · Life Ain`t Brain Surgery Blog

    • 0 posts
    November 3, 2006 2:07 AM EST

    Hey guys-

    I`d like to offer a different perspective, coming from someone who used a VA before. In 98 my assistant was pregnant and had some complications and she had to stay home, could not work. I was out of help and needed someone quickly. Another CEO, who had been using a VA for years, along with his assistant, told me about VA`s and I used one. Here is some insight:

    • She was amazing on getting things well done, but I could never get things done on my schedule.
    • The reason my assistant was more expensive than the VA was because ( i realized) I was paying for her intellectual power and ability to make judgements calls about the tasks.
    • My VA, contrary to my assistant, never challenged me on something she thought was going the wrong way.
    • Once my assistant was back the VA was better utilized, given that she was more in charge of mechanical work, and not strategical tasks.

    Upon my assiatnt return we kept the services of the VA, which was great for my assistant because it gave her more of an opportunity to step up strategically. I believe this to be a great service, but cannot be evaluated on a simple math as what is cheaper and what is more expensive. If you make judgement call for your business just by simply comparing the number, you are in trouble.

    A VA, from my perspective, and I could be very wrong because I am speaking from personal experience, is someone who can help on mechanical tasks, such as PP presentations, spreadsheet organization, appointment scheduling and things like it. But when it comes to be part of a more strategically oriented environment, it didnt work for me.

    Thanks everyone, and I hope this is helpful. Lastly, I hope I didnt offer an offensive perspective, but just an honest feedback on personal exprience.

    Bupulga2006-11-3 9:10:29

    ---
    jump! jump! jump!...didn`t it feel good!!!

    • 0 posts
    November 3, 2006 3:55 AM EST

    Hi, great feedback and a great discussion board.

    Thanks for getting back to us. A VA surely didnt work for me. My environment in my last life was well planned and organized, however, demanding and fast. There are places where the speed of the business require quick responses. That was my case. Thanks to the great Man upstairs I now own my business and work in a more relaxed environment. But that is not the discussion.

    This was just my non-scientific opinion, pure personal experience. Good business owners / business people know what they need and there is never a product or service in the world which is all things for all people. Whether you hire an assistant who hangs with you in the next door office, or a VA 1000 miles away, the important thing is that you are making that decision because is the best one and the one that best fits your needs.

    Lastly, as I heard, due to a cost oriented strategy, there is a VA business being strongly developed overseas. Some companies offer the service for a significant lower rate than the US rate. I dont know if this is true, but certainilly a threat to the US hard working VA`s will face.

    Thanks again.

    Bupulga2006-11-3 11:21:42

    ---
    jump! jump! jump!...didn`t it feel good!!!

    • 27 posts
    November 11, 2006 4:52 PM EST

    Hello All,

    As I see the postings about virtual assistants, I thought it might be helpful to give you the website of our company www.mysmartstaff.com where you will find allot of information on virtual receptionist and virtual assistants and allot of other virtual business solutions, feel free to contact me for more info.

    Thanks

    Meny

     

    • 2 posts
    November 2, 2006 5:30 AM EST

    Hi everyone...although i`ve been part of the community since June, this is my first post...bring it on!

    I`ve been reading about this VA stuff for almost a month, and it looks very interesting and rewarding.  I also read Tawnya`s site (a lot of good information), and browsed assistu.com for more information. 

    One question I have...for those starting a VA business, how and where did you find your initial clients?  How were you able to convince them that you (a brand new VA) was their best bet?  I think this is mostly a "trust-based" business, and look forward to see how you overcame these roadblocks.

    Rafi

    ---
    Waiting for ideal conditions is rarely an option...SEIZE YOUR FREEDOM!

    • 2 posts
    November 2, 2006 6:16 AM EST

    HI Danielle:

    VA is one of the options I am looking for a business, especially involving my wife.  She was an executive admin for the president of a big company in our native country, Puerto Rico, but when we moved to FL her limited English (especially writing skills) is slowing her growth.  Right now she is working for a bank, and hating it!

    In my case, i am NOT an exec admin (even if my life depended on it, i cant keep a filing system), but have the networking and business skills, and I am fully bilingual (English/Spanish).  This may be an opportunity where she can do most of the "work stuff" and I do most of the marketing and networking of the business.  One thing I am not sure about is if that "two headed" approach will work.  This is what is keeping me right now of "pulling the trigger" on this opportunity.

    Have you seen a VA business work successfuly that way?

    Rafi

    ---
    Waiting for ideal conditions is rarely an option...SEIZE YOUR FREEDOM!