Archive

Category Archives for "Virtual Assistant Information"

What is a Virtual Assistant? – INFOGRAPHIC

The term “Virtual Assistant” is becoming more and more known by the day as businesses begin to realize the advantages of outsourcing tasks in a world where broadband Internet allows people to communicate and share files almost instantaneously from great distances. Even though this is the case, many still have no idea what it means, or they may have a preconceived notion of the term that doesn’t really fit with the VA of today. Who is a Virtual Assistant? What is a Virtual Assistant business? Is a VA simply a remote “secretary”, or are there different types of VAs? This infographic was created to give you a quick, visual overview of the answers to all of those questions.

What is a Virtual Assistant INFOGRAPHIC

Working Matter Virtual AssistantAbout the author: Patrick is a creative and technical Virtual Assistant and the owner of Working Matter VA. He has over 17 years experience in Information Technology and Information Management as well as a degree in Studio Art. He has the unique ability to leverage both his technical and analytic side with his creative and artistic side to produce the perfect balance. MS Office, WordPress, graphics, and Social Media are just a few of the things he can assist businesses with. Visit WorkingMatterVA.com to find out more about Patrick and his services.

How a Virtual Assistant Can Help You Grow your Business with Blog Management

Grow your Business with Blog ManagementWhile a blog is the best way to place your business in front of your market, it’s hard to handle at times. The main reason is you don’t directly make money with your blog and so it’s hard to focus your efforts on it when there are many other things you need to be doing to make money.

The downside to that is you must do things that don’t directly make you money in order to make money. Drawing traffic to your site and encouraging your viewers to make purchases from you is not something you can do without telling them why they need to do it and building trust with them. This is where your blog comes into play.

When you use your blog to discuss your products or services and provide valuable information regarding your business and your industry, people will want to read what you have to say. They’ll come back time and time again to see how you can help them and to see what you have going on. That’s why your blog is a valuable part of your business.

If you find you don’t have the time to manage your blog, you need to consider hiring a Virtual Assistant to help you. Blog management is a wonderful service for any business owner that knows the value of a blog, but doesn’t have the time or the knowledge to make it work.

Your Virtual Assistant can handle writing and scheduling posts for you. This will save you a ton of time and you’ll find it’ll be the best way to handle your blog. You’ll be able to give her topics to write about and then once you approve them, she can add an image and schedule them at the perfect time.

Another task your Virtual Assistant can handle for you is maintaining your blog. If you use WordPress, you’ll find there are regular updates for your blog that are important for safety and security reasons. She can handle those updates and make sure everything runs smoothly and perfectly.

When you hire a Virtual Assistant to help you indirectly make money for your business using your blog, you’ll find the money you spend paying her to help you will be well worth it. You’ll find she’ll help you increase your income and then you’ll begin to see how she can help you in other ways to grow your business.

SophieZo Virtually There For YouAbout the author: Sophie Zollmann of SophieZo Virtually There For You is a virtual assistant committed to working with online entrepreneurs to increase productivity and income. She provides assistance with blog, email, social media, and schedule management; WordPress website design and maintenance; 1ShoppingCart set up and maintenance; internet marketing; Real Estate support, proofreading and much more. Find out more at http://sophiezo.com.

2

Do You Want it Done, or Do You Want it DONE RIGHT?

The Dangers of Working with a $4 an hour Virtual Assistant

The Dangers of Working with a $4 an hour Virtual Assistant

Search one of the many online article directories for the keyword ‘virtual assistant’ and you’ll be inundated by choices. Some of the articles in your search results will have been authored by professional virtual assistants who are truly partners and party to the success of their clients; sincerely invested in the businesses they support. The articles submitted by these VAs will be well-written, concise, informative, and generally presented with correct spelling and grammar. These are the articles worth reading, but they are few and far between. You’ll have to work to find the ‘good articles’ because they are sandwiched among a mudslide of poorly developed, keyword-stuffed pieces written and submitted by various virtual assistant ‘factories’ (for lack of a better word…). These offshore ‘service centers’ (and they’re almost always offshore, even if they’re backed by a U.S. based CEO or corporation, even if they’re fronted with a U.S. address and phone) don’t follow the same business model as a professional virtual assistant, and they don’t provide the same level of service, but they operate under the title ‘virtual assistant’.

The differences between professional virtual assistants and the offshore virtual service centers are vast, and it’s important to point out at least a few of the more glaring ones:

Professional virtual assistants are generally experienced as administrative experts and consultants, some specialize in fields they worked at in the brick-and-mortar business world for years or even decades. Professional virtual assistants are usually solopreneurs, or members of small firms or teams, delivering high-end services to clients whose businesses they are interested in supporting for the long term. A professional VA is going to work with you for the sole purpose of driving your success and supporting your goals. While a professional VA may be happy to schedule your appointments and handle data entry for you, they are equipped and skilled to lend so much more than that to your business. And because a professional virtual assistant is also a business owner, they are equally as committed to their own success as yours. Given that your bottom line reflects the quality of the work they do, they’re all the more motivated to deliver at 110% every time.

Virtual service centers or call centers have tens or even hundreds of employees manning phones and email – employees who may or may not have the real-world administrative or business experience you need to be able to rely on to see your business grow and flourish. The operator who answers and handles your service request today is no more invested in the success of your business than the operator who sits across from him (amid rows of other ‘virtual assistants’) and will answer your call tomorrow. And the stark reality is that the education systems in most of the countries that host these virtual service centers hardly prepare the agents working there to put together your marketing materials, execute your most important business communications and customer service interactions, or articulately draft your blog posts, much less further your business as a whole. These ‘VAs’ only fit the definition of virtual assistant in that they’re located quite some distance from you. The similarity ends there.

Offshoring your business administration tasks to one of these service centers appears, at first glance, to be much less expensive than partnering with a professional virtual assistant. Do the math and no one can argue that $4 or $7 per hour is much cheaper than the market rate $35 hourly most established, skilled virtual assistants bill at. But factor that equation a bit further and your $4 an hour ‘investment’ will very likely end up costing you much, much more in wasted time, poorly executed results, unfinished requests and projects that require ‘fixing’.

Cheap and fast is not always cheap, or fast

It can cost quite a lot to revisit a project you thought was completed on deadline, only to have to fix mistakes, track down missing information, edit misspellings, rewrite unreadable turns of phrase, and more. It will ultimately cost you more time, and more money babysitting your $4 an hour “virtual assistant” than it will to hand off a project to an established, professional VA who knows what they’re doing (and charges accordingly). It’s not just a cautionary tale – you really do get exactly what you pay for.

Think about your own business, you don’t position yourself as the cheapest option in town – and why should you? You’re a professional, you’re good at what you do, and you charge accordingly. Why would you sacrifice the level of prestige, professionalism and quality you’ve worked to build around your business by outsourcing even the most mundane business tasks to an untrained call center employee for $4 per hour?

When you’re ready to make an investment in the growth and success of your business it’s time to hire a professional virtual assistant.

3

The Virtual Assistant Industry | A Network of Professionals

The Virtual Assistant Industry | A Network of ProfessionalsThe Virtual Assistant Industry is a vast network of professional entrepreneurs engaged in helping your business meet its goals for growth, increased revenue, online branding, image and exposure. We are your long term vested partners who are truly part of your team, your daily business operations and your second pair of hands and eyes to ensure everything is successfully managed to your satisfaction.

My personal network is comprised of amazing women, dedicated virtual assistants, who are so willing to help one another, answer questions, provide assistance, referrals or even brainstorm. There aren’t too many industries with such a tight group of people who don’t fear competition or sharing of information. The client/virtual assistant relationship is based upon many different factors for each individual partnership and there must be a resonance along with the skill set to make them a cohesive productive team. Speaking from experience, my clients and I all work well together – communication, feedback and accountability are key components for success. Being in business since 2002, I have been very fortunate to engage with some amazing entrepreneurs. I think I learn as much from them, as they do from me. I hope so anyway.

Choosing to delegate is not always an easy step because you feel you are giving up control, but when you partner with an established virtual entrepreneur, you are choosing someone who is in business for themselves and know what it takes to succeed. The 365/24/7 mentality of a driven business owner will have a greater impact on your success, than an offshore call center who has one off task managers. Give careful consideration to your long term needs, your goals and what you expect from your delegatee. Established virtual assistants go above and beyond the request. We are always “on” in terms of your business. A task manager does that one task and nothing more. You may be asking about price and cost effectiveness. Just remember the old adage, “You get what you pay for.” Value, effort, dedication and commitment are priceless.
Tips to help you find a virtual assistant

Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are just three of the online platforms to help you find the perfect virtual assistant for you and your company. Due diligence is very important and shouldn’t be a shortcut to save time because in the long run, it will cost you.

  • Ask questions about their business, history, why and when they got started
  • Review their website/blogs
  • Request writing and portfolio samples
  • Follow and engage with them on social media
  • Watch their writing style and shared content
  • Are their emails professionally written?
  • What software and tools do they use, both online and off?
  • Do they respond to your email inquiries in a timely manner?
  • How do you perceive their online brand image?
  • What are their greatest proficiencies?
  • What are their hours and availability?
  • Do they have off hours to meet your needs?
  • Schedule a call or two
  • Did you feel a connection on the call?
  • Were they engaging?
  • Were all of your questions answered to your satisfaction?
  • Did you get a feeling of authenticity?
  • What are their strengths/weaknesses?

What attributes helped you choose your virtual assistant?

About the author: Suzie Kummins-Poirier, a.k.a AceConcierge, is a virtual assistant working with entrepreneurs and Suzie Kummins-Poirier, Virtual Assistantbusiness people who care to focus on their core genius by delegating the much-needed but time-consuming everyday tasks of managing business. With 30 years experience within corporate and working remotely with clients, Suzie has built a career supporting hundreds of business professionals in propelling their businesses to increased income and laser-sharp focus. Follow Suzie on Twitter, via her blog and on Facebook.

Why You Need an Online Presence and How It Will Help You Make More Money

If you run your own business, you’ve probably heard about an “online presence.”  So what exactly is it really?  And how can it be used to help build your business?  How much time is that going to take to build?

Simply stated, an online presence is created from everything that you do online.  It tells people about who you are, what you do, and where they can learn more about you.  This takes into account your website, social media, newsletters and ezines, blogging, article marketing, and any of your other online activities.

In the digital age that we live in, having a strong online presence is critical.  If someone is considering working with your business or hiring you personally, what do you think is the first thing they are going to do before making a decision?  Google it!  They’ll find your website, reviews, Facebook page, and anything else that you have out there in cyberspace.  People make buying decisions based on what they find online.  It’s THAT important!

Your website is the face of your business.  It tells your story and educates your audience about who you are and what you do.  Your goal is to create a website experience that accurately portrays your brand and makes people want to know more.  Make sure that you add a blog feature to your website and use it to share what you know. Share valuable content at least weekly.  This will help to raise your “Know, Like and Trust” factor and will also add to your website’s traffic.  Google loves blogs!

Social media is another huge component of your online presence and is a great way to drive more traffic to your website.  There are so many platforms to choose from that deciding which ones to use can make your head spin.  Don’t even think about trying to be on all of them.  You’ll post twice and be so overwhelmed that you will abandon them all completely.  If you’re new to social media, here’s my advice:  start small and be consistent.  Choose 1 or 2 platforms where your target market hangs out and be present there.  Post on a regular basis and talk to people.  In 15 minutes a day, you can have a great start to a strong online presence.

About the author: Jody Higgins is the CEO, Chief Social Media Strategist, and Owner of My Virtual Assistant Service, a multi-VA firm that specializes in creating and implementing social media and online marketing strategies to build brand awareness, increase website traffic and make more money for her clients. Jody also enjoys coaching and teaching entrepreneurs on all aspects of social media, as well as small business leadership. You can also find Jody and My Virtual Assistant Service on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.

Working with a Virtual Assistant Q & A

Operating your own business is a dream. You know all of the ins and outs; what is required; the nuances; your target markets; you have it down pat from sunrise to sunset. It is all second nature that you could run it in your sleep if you had to.

While there is nothing inherently wrong with this scenario, ask yourself is it productive? Is it efficient? Are you and your company operating at 100% in order to experience growth?
Working with a Virtual Assistant
I would venture a guess that your responses are probably teetering more toward the “No, not exactly” versus “We are the best and on target to triple our revenues.”

Many of my clients have been in your position, realizing they are not poised for growth and they want to move from entrepreneur to more of a small business status. As I have stated before, being able to effectively delegate represents a readiness and growth mentality. You must relinquish much of the day to day tasks in order to be able to focus on your “real” business goals. “Entrepreneur, Fire Thyself.”

“The whole transition from working in the business to working on the business means letting go of what you’re comfortable doing. You always need to be thinking big and challenging yourself.”
Mary Jo Gorman, member of the 2011 North American class of Entrepreneurial Winning Women.

There are several steps or processes to be able to arrive at this juncture and once you do, it is still a matter of understanding and learning how to work with a virtual assistant, when you have always done everything on your own.

I get that! I really do.

  • It took me a few years before I was ready to delegate
  • I had always done it
  • No one could do anything better or faster
  • Why should I write out all of my policies and procedures when it is quicker if I just manage it on the spot?

I am over that and value the freedom and ease of having a tremendous virtual assistant. I don’t need to do every single task or project. If I was so bogged down in each and every daily business operation and activity, I wouldn’t have the time to build my business, provide personalized service, work ON it rather than IN it and I wouldn’t have enough hours in the day to write a blog post. I would be a slave to the clock and the company. That is not the kind of business dream I have.

Clients have asked what should they outsource and what is the best way to work with a virtual assistant.

Outsource anything that

  • Doesn’t directly generate revenue
  • Isn’t your core genius
  • Represents administrative tasks
  • You don’t like to do
  • You don’t want to do
  • Is too tedious
  • Takes up too much time
  • Provides a low payoff

Here is an exercise that may shed some light on your time spent versus invested: for one week track every task and project that you work on.

Note the time spent. What wasn’t completed, what was overlooked, any appointments missed, activities half completed, which ones generated revenue. How many low payoff activities usurped your time?

At the end of the week, review it. What should you move off of your plate?? It should be very clear.

What every day operations are you involved in that also aren’t the best value of your time? Sure, they are necessary, but do YOU need to do them?

Working with a Virtual Assistant (Best idea ever!)

After you have chosen your vested virtual partner be ready to experience outstanding results.

  • Understand your daily processes and business operations
  • Be well aware of your core genius and high payoff activities
  • Clearly outline your goals
  • Know what you want to outsource: for example, content curation, proofing/editing/uploading of blogs, email and calendar management, social media and project management
  • Outsource one offs, projects, administrative tasks and daily business operations
  • Establish your workflow
  • Define specifics, desired outcomes, expectations and deadlines
  • Prepare documents to support the processes you use to complete tasks. You may also discover that your VA has some other efficient tools and ideas as well. Be open for discussions
  • Accountability and communications are a must for success and satisfaction
  • Provide valued, honest feedback
  • Trust the VA you have chosen – avoid the need to micromanage
  • Expect to participate in monthly strategy calls to brainstorm, share ideas and talk about your business
  • If they are to interact with your clients or vendors, create an email address for them at your domain
  • Recognize that you are part of a TEAM, investing in your partnership and business
  • Every month, review what is working and what isn’t. Consider outsourcing additional operations management or projects while you may decide to pull back others
  • Continue to foster and nurture your relationship just like you would with an in-house staff member

These suggested tips may seem a little overwhelming or daunting at first, but once you lay out the foundation or the architecture of your partnership, the coming months and years will prove to be very lucrative for you. It is worth the investment and time to set up your blueprint for success.

About the author: Suzie Kummins-Poirier, a.k.a AceConcierge, is a virtual assistant working with entrepreneurs and Suzie Kummins-Poirier, Virtual Assistantbusiness people who care to focus on their core genius by delegating the much-needed but time-consuming everyday tasks of managing business. With 30 years experience within corporate and working remotely with clients, Suzie has built a career supporting hundreds of business professionals in propelling their businesses to increased income and laser-sharp focus. Follow Suzie on Twitter, via her blog and on Facebook.

Six Reasons Why Tim Ferriss Would Make a GREAT Virtual Assistant

Six Reasons Why Tim Ferriss Would Make a GREAT Virtual AssistantI recently read a humorous but also helpful blog post that was sent to me by one of my friends, Tess Strand and posted here. The post described how Kim Kardashian would be a terrible Virtual Assistant (VA) and gave a litany of reasons. Essentially, the post, written Julia Jasmine Sta Romana, argues that since Kim has certain traits, she’d make a terrible VA. These traits include:

  • She needs the spotlight
  • She overshares information
  • She’s overly dramatic

As such, Kim would make a terrible VA. I’d definitely agree, since any VA should be a hard worker who helps you “behind the scenes”, keeps important information to him or herself, and works well in an open, communicative (and drama free!) relationship.

That post started me thinking, “Well, if Kim would be a terrible VA, who would be a good VA?” That led me to think about what characteristics really define a fantastic VA, which led me to think about my own working relationship with Angeline, my wonderful VA. I let those ideas roll around in my head for a while, and here’s who I came up with for the perfect Virtual Assistant:

Tim Ferriss

I think Tim would be perfect for the job! Granted, he’s a celebrity, but I think he has some defining characteristics and traits that would easily make him the world’s best VA. So, why would I think that Tim would make a great VA? Here’s the reasons:

  • He understands Pareto’s Principle.
    Just like my own personal VA Angeline, Tim understands that you get 80% of the results from 20% of the effort, so focusing your efforts on this key 20% – and offloading that other 80% to a VA – will make you a faster, more productive, and more efficient physician, entrepreneur, business owner, and human being.
  • He understands that we are sometimes paralyzed by fear.
    Example: Some people hate submitting customer complaints, even though they’re well justified. Deep down it probably stems from some deep-set belief of not upsetting authority, but that’s clearly self-limiting belief. How to work around that paralyzing fear? Easy: Have your Virtual Assistant accomplish those unpleasant task for you as a “disinterested third party” of sorts. Problem solved! Tim understands this “paralysis by fear” and would easily take care of those seemingly unpleasant tasks with aplomb.
  • I love Tim’s quote in The Four Hour Workweek, “Many a false step was made by standing still”.

    Tim would make a great VA because he’s always doing something.
    Another awesome quote from that book is “The opposite of happiness is boredom”. He’s certainly not doing busywork, but he’s hard at work on projects that matter. He’s published multiple books, gives TED talks, is interviewed on countless blogs, and runs a business empire. He never stops! A great work ethic is obviously paramount for any VA, and Tim has that ethic in spades.

  • He has perspective.
    Again, a great quote from The Four Hour Workweek, “Being able to quit things that don’t work is integral to being a winner”. Any VA needs to be able to give you honest feedback on your projects. As Angeline has done for me (and Tim would do for me if I hired him!), the provision of feedback so that you know when you’re fighting a losing battle is key so you can focus your efforts on maximizing your opportunities. Tim’s perspective and insight would be invaluable and as a VA, I’d ask him questions daily.
  • Tim knows processes.
    Essentially, if you build a poorly constructed process and then hire a bunch of VAs to execute it, you’re going to have more problems than when you started. Conversely, if you have a well thought out process that you then outsource, you can double, triple or quadruple your production! I’ve done this with my Virtual Assistant Locator Service and with my eBook composition project (that’s a little insider secret—I have a superb process I’ve formulated for eBooks with VAs that I think will change the world!). But back to the VA Locator Service: I worked through hiring numerous VAs, reviewed what worked well and what didn’t, and then created the process to streamline hiring a VA and now I’m offering that service to you as a result. I utilize VAs to make this service run, and I think that since it’s a well-refined process, it will work great!
  • He realizes that time is money.
    If you’re spending your valuable time, worth even up to $150 or $200 per hour doing something that someone else could do for perhaps $5 or $10 per hour, you’re just being foolish. Additionally, he knows that time is our most valuable resource and if he heard what a friend told me last week, “I’m too busy to make myself more efficient”, he’d probably scream! If I hired Tim, he’d have that foundational belief and know that what he was doing for me (offloading tasks) was mutually beneficial and he’d work extremely hard so we’d both reap the benefits!

So, Tim, if you’re reading this (your own Virtual Assistant will probably see this pop up in your Google Alert for your name), let me know if you’re available! You’d rock as a VA!

All joking aside, these characteristics that I wrote about above are key traits for your virtual assistant to possess. At a bare minimum, they must possess that drive and work ethic to continue to plow through projects and they must have that teamwork mentality and open communication for the relationship to work. Building on that, the additional characteristics of providing valuable feedback, etc, are extremely helpful and if you haven’t yet asked your Virtual Assistant about feedback on projects, for instance, do so today. Your VA likely has a wealth of untapped knowledge and expertise, so maximize your relationship with them!

George Smolinski, M.D.About the author: George Smolinski, M.D. is a physician, father, husband, athlete, and entrepreneur who has worked diligently to achieve what so many search for: true work-life balance. Spurred by major life-changing events, he has revolutionized his life, leveraging the best mental and technological tools available to maximize his personal efficiency. His mission now is to help his fellow physicians and medical providers embrace these same techniques to liberate their own perfect lives. Visit his blog at Four Hour Physician.

1 2 3 12