Virtual Assistants on making Businesses more Profitable

9 09 2010

Lean and economic times call sometimes for desperate measures as business strive more than ever to streamline and increase profitability. In order to achieve this some business owners make the mistake of trying to do everything themselves, but is this wise?

The business owner is responsible for generating new revenue for their business. As the business grows, so do administrative tasks. The more time spent IN the business on administrative tasks, the less time spent ON the business generating more sales and planning its growth.

Surely the business owner’s time is not best spent on all the small (but important) administrative tasks necessary in running a successfully business. More and more prudent business owners are delegating the less profitable tasks by hiring a virtual assistant, whose hourly rate is somewhat less than the business owner’s real financial worth.

Virtual assistants are the 21st Century equivalent of the personal assistant of the 20th Century. They provide administrative and secretarial assistance, when required. they are self-employed, so there are no employer’s responsibilities like PAYE, National Insurance, tax, sick pay, maternity leave, paid holiday or benefits packages. Best of all, because they work from their own premises, there’s no need to provide virtual assistants with any office space, desk or equipment, ideal for small business owners and entrepreneurs who operate their business from their home which means they don’t loose privacy or space.

As more and more businesses move their marketing and communications to the Internet, Virtual Assistants are becoming the obvious solution to staffing issues. For an hourly fee often less than the cost of temps or the real cost of employees, businesses can take advantage of professional assistance and a variety of skills at the click of a mouse.

Work assignments are communicated through email. The use of telephone, fax or post and web-based tools is also a means of keeping in touch.

Typical tasks outsourced include returning telephone calls, answering e-mails and drafting letters. They also run their diaries, manage event bookings, run marketing and email campaigns, design presentations, source and book flights, proof-read and beautify documentation.

Some virtual assistants are highly specialised in particular areas including marketing support, e-newsletters, web design, squeeze pages and e-commerce.

There’s no doubt that having virtual assistance is a time-management tool. With the support of a good one, business image is enhanced, the business runs smoother and more efficiently which means greater productivity. Business owners can focus on what is important, rather than urgent, leaving them more time to work ON their business rather than IN it. For some it means regaining their evenings and weekends.


How not to win clients

26 05 2008

Got directed to these tips by a fellow VA  who was rather shocked to find another VA recommending a rather underhand way of winning clients. . Whilst the majority of tips are to do with keeping abreast of your industry news, I found tip no 4 by Moneypenny's MD rather underhand, namely "When your rival brags about landing new clients you can ring up and
offer to undercut the deal.” apparently the MD uses this technique! To me, this seems to be a rather green-eyed reaction to your rival's successes. How do you think the client would view this kind of unsolicitored approach? And how does this affect the image of the virtual pa industry?

If, as a VA certainly, you ever got gazzumped by a rival undercutting your new deal you proudly shouted about on your website, rather than kick yourself for having given so much away on your website, you might take the view that the client wouldn't have been a good one if all they were interested in was the price-tag.

Always remember that as a virtual pa, you are offering a whole package. And to do that you need to find out exactly what the client's expectations are. That's the starting point. You also need to know what they hope to gain. Once you know what they want and their aim, you can then add value by using your knowledge and experience to suggest additional ways of augmenting, perhaps simplifying the process or improving it somehow. This way your prospects see your value beyond the price-tag, and you're more likely to win the client, (even if you are the most expensive) and you'll keep them even when a rival tries to undercut you.

Thankfully, my experience of the VA industry is one of mutual support of another. We share tips and knowledge and celebrate one another's successes. And likewise, we also share bad experiences, so that  our fellow VA's can avoid being stung too. What goes round comes round, so send the good stuff round and do unto others how you'd like to be done to!

by Vee Smith

Must have software – pdf

4 05 2008

Every virtual pa should have the means to convert documents into PDF files and I use desk pdf. I’ve also used pdf995. PDF995 has a free version which every time you use it up pop reminders to tell you to purchase the software to get rid of the annoying pop up reminder. I paid for desk pdf  ($60) and it is so quick to create a pdf document. You create your word document (or excel) then go to print and select the desk pdf from the printers drop down box. You then get prompted to save as and you give it a file name and that’s it. Quick, simple and brilliant! That’s what I like!

Athena East Chilterns Conference

1 05 2008

Here’s one Virtual PA looking forward to the  Athena East Chilterns Conference next Friday 9th May at Latimer House, in Chesham. I’m privileged to have been asked to give a talk about blogging for business. So, as an experiment I’ve set up this Virtual PA blog and been adding at least every other day to it and been monitoring my ranking in search engines. Yesterday, when I checked on Google for virtual pa blog it came up on the 2nd page, which is pretty good, considering I only started this virtual pa blog less than a week ago. Does prove that search engines like frequency.    

Why did I become a Virtual PA?

28 04 2008

I often get asked why I became a Virtual Assistant. I’d spent over 20 years working as a PA (Personal Assistant) to  various  Directors, and probably  a third of that time in my car travelling to and from work, dropping off my girls at the different places they had to go, nursery, childminder, hitting all the school runs on the way to work, then same again back home, frequently getting back home around 7pm. I loved my job, but hated the journey and how tired it made me, and that I hardly had any quality time with my girls, let alone me. A good chunk of my salary went on childcare. I really wanted work that was much closer to home without dropping my income, was as fulfilling, and, be able to pick up my girls from school and have dinner at 6pm not 8pm. I read in various PA magazines about virtual assistants and that seemed to fit in with the lifestyle that I wanted. I did my due diligence, called a few VA’s to check how they were doing, and more importantly, did it pay, how soon was it before they started to get clients and earn money. So, then an opportunity arose, that usually most people would think of as a major stress causing catastrophe…. Redundancy!

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National VA Conference 2008

27 04 2008

I was one of the many Virtual PA’s that descended on Milton Keynes for the 2nd National VA Conference and Awards ceremony on 19th April 2008.  Virtual PA’s from as far as Ireland, North of England and South of England joined together for a day of workshops, networking and speakers about topics every virtual pa is interested in. "Confident and Powerful Networking for
Women in Business”
by Karen Skidmore, Can Do Can
"Creating a Synergy Between You and Your
by Susie Barron-Stubley of Castalia Coaching, "Take Control, Make More Money & Set
Yourself Financially Free"
by Nicola Cairncross, The Money Gym.
Last year’s winner, Alexia Padgham, gave an inspiring talk about how winning the award had impacted on her and her business.
And then we had time to network. Among many, I met Angela Dawson, who’s a fellow member of the IAVA and regular CyberChatter, Athena members – Ingrid Griffin (North Cotswolds), Gerry Hyde  (Maidenhead), fellow Herts VA XChange – Kim Norris, newbies from Herts – Mary Moody & Alison Murray who are going to join our VA XChange group.

Came away feeling somewhat exhausted, much enlightened, goody-bag in my paw and a very sore bum from sitting still for so long!