Virtual Assistance




Editors Note: Dianne McDonald has been working with ConnectUs on our Network to Get Work events. We first met at a Chamber of Commerce event and began to build a rapport, the information and resources Dianne can provide for us has proved invaluable – we recommend that everyone consider a virtual assistant when it comes to filling many of those special needs.

In the business world today, a term you may be hearing frequently is “Virtual Assistant”. Just what is a Virtual Assistant? Virtual Assistants or (VAs) are entrepreneurs and independent contractors who are highly-skilled administrative professionals providing business support assistance off-site from their own fully-equipped offices, to clients located virtually anywhere in the world.

With the introduction of the internet, corporate downsizing, and more people venturing into small business ownership, the VA industry is expanding rapidly. There are already hundreds of VAs in business worldwide, communicating with clients via email, phone, fax etc. Geography does not limit their client base because they work in a completely virtual environment. Time zones work wonderfully to their advantage as they can have a client on the other side of the world sending them work midday EST time – which is the end of the day their time - and when the client arrives at work the next morning, the task is completed, emailed back and waiting for them!

A VA’s objective is to build strong, mutual business relationships with a handful of clients, partnering with them towards a common goal – the success of their clients’ businesses. ‘Partnering’ means - getting to know and understand their clients, and their clients’ businesses, so they can more effectively assist them in achieving the highest level of success possible in their businesses.

What are the benefits to clients working with a VA?

By outsourcing non-productive, time-consuming tasks clients have…

More time and less stress to achieve their goals
More focus to increase their earning power
Improved productivity and efficiency
Consistent, flexible business support without the commitment & expense of hiring an employee
The option of choosing the number of hours per month they would like their VA to set aside to work for them
To pay only for time actually spent on their projects

Who should consider working with a VA?

overworked, stressed professionals who need to delegate unproductive tasks to concentrate on more important issues
home-based entrepreneurs who prefer not to hire an employee due to the commitment & expense or lack of sufficient workspace to accommodate an extra person in their home office
executives who have left the corporate world to become professional consultants and require the same executive assistance they have been accustomed to
businesses who prefer to outsource a sensitive project to an outside confidential third party such as a:
• downsizing
• restructuring or relocation of the business
• impending layoff plans & procedures
• confidential board meeting presentations & documentation

In these cases, a VA is invaluable as a highly-confidential professional resource to assist upper management to assist with successful completion of their plans.

Some bosses may worry that their full-time assistant will feel threatened if they contract a VA. No necessarily so. Contracting a VA as an assistant to their assistant will make them feel very special, especially when they realize they will have someone working for them who they can pass on all the tasks they don’t have time for and don’t really like doing anyway! They will thank and appreciate their boss for recognizing that they could use this extra assistance. This also lends them the opportunity to strengthen their project management skills when planning and outsourcing tasks to a VA and ensuring everything is completed on time. And all the while - lightening their own workload! What assistant wouldn’t be happy with this arrangement!!

In the case of a special project and the full-time assistant lacks the skills to complete it, a VA can quickly finish the special project and then train the assistant how to complete the next special project that comes along. It’s a win-win situation. And trust me - you will be a hero!!

Now some may say… “I already have a qualified assistant. I really don’t need a VA too.” Think of the times when your assistant has been overloaded, off sick, on vacation or on maternity leave? You find yourself scrambling to find a temporary replacement who must be quickly trained to take their place. If you & your assistant have been outsourcing projects to a VA all along, the VA will already be familiar with your business and will be prepared to step in and bridge the gap until your assistant returns.

Ideal Clients for a VA
Business coaches, professional speakers, authors, writers, executive consultants, marketing specialists, etc. etc.

What services are offered by a VA?
This varies with each VA. Some specialize in only one or two areas; usually tasks they enjoy doing the most and have great expertise in such as Website design. Other VAs, who were formerly Corporate Executive Assistants for many years, are qualified to offer a wide range of services and expertise. An example of tasks they may offer would be:

• Database creation and management
• PowerPoint presentations
• Word Processing / Editing / Proofreading
• Desktop publishing
• Event Planning (Meetings/Seminars/Receptions)
• Office Organization
• Tradeshows – booth setup, invitations, responses, followup
• Spreadsheets creation and management
• Association management
• Concierge services (cars, hotels, travel, restaurants, tickets)

If you are still trying to justify whether working with a VA is for you think of this…

Everyone in business has many, many tasks that must be taken care of. The bottom line is… if you are trying to look after everything yourself, you are working much too hard for too little reward. It makes far more sense to outsource as many tasks as you can so you can spend your valuable time on more productive and important issues such as generating more income.

If your assistant is constantly overloaded, levels of productivity and efficiency are suffering. Make a list of all the tasks you need to accomplish each day and if you have an assistant, have them also make a list of their tasks. As you read through both of these lists, you may be surprised just how many tasks are unproductive, time-consuming and really could be outsourced to a VA.

Now you have an overview of Virtual Assistance and why it is rapidly becoming the way of the future. More and more professionals are discovering the powerful, positive impact that a VA has on their business and they are quickly spreading the word to their colleagues. There are now hundreds of VA’s in business worldwide and this number continues to grow.

Forward-thinking professionals embrace the concept of virtual assistance and recognize that the support of their VA plus the benefits derived from their efforts, are the perfect solution for their business!

An interesting quote from a leading professional in this field claims that…
“By the year 2005 the question won’t be…
WHAT is a VA, but WHO is your VA”?

If you would like more information about Virtual Assistants, please contact: Dianne McDonald Virtual Business Resources 519 880 8200

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