How would you like a few extra hours per month to spend with family, to read a good book, or indulge in a hobby? Want more time to devote to the income-generating aspects of your business and activities you enjoy? Tired of spending hours handling routine paperwork and mundane tasks you dislike or don't have time or the desire to complete? Need someone to keep up with the latest software and other technologies?
Consider retaining the services of a Virtual Assistant (VA).
A Virtual Assistant is a skilled and knowledgeable virtual work partner providing professional, administrative support and specialized business services from her own office.
It may be difficult to grasp the concept of retaining administrative and office support services “virtually. ” Most entrepreneurs are familiar with brick and mortar services, someone sitting in front of your office door, answering phones and processing paperwork. However, with the advent of new Internet technologies and software enhancements, an offsite assistant can be your technology guru and problem solver, providing administrative, secretarial and executive assistant support services from her or his home office.
Cost Effective Choice
It can be cost effective to work with Virtual Assistants (VAs). Why? You pay for time worked and schedule work only when you need assistance. Staffing agencies often require a minimum hourly commitment while VAs offer several service options:
* Partnering (retainer) relationships — client contracts based on a retainer arrangement for a specific number of hours of service each month.
* Special projects — clients use the VA on an as needed basis, as projects arise.
* Co-op — VA acts as a multi-task project coordinator and shares tasks with other Virtual Assistants.
If your estimated earning rate is $100 or more an hour, the value of the time you spend performing administrative tasks is also $100 an hour. But if you pay a Virtual Assistant $50/hour, that same $100 can garner two hours of professional administrative support services and provide time for other activities such as servicing your clients. And when you factor in no benefits, overhead, equipment costs or training, working with a VA is an even more attractive option.
Typical Virtual Assistant Services include:
* Appointment Scheduling
* On/Offline Marketing
* Article Creation/Submission
* Travel Coordination
* Ezine Management
* Event & Conference Planning
* PowerPoint Creations
* E-book Creation
* Database Management
* Email Monitoring/Response
* Desktop Publishing
* Order Fulfillment
* Project Management
* Teleseminar Preparation
* Seminar Transcription
* Vendor Management
* Shopping Cart Management
* Website Design/Maintenance
* Much, Much More
Like most businesses, not all virtual assisting firms are created the same and some online businesses outsource assignments to offshore, low cost workers. When choosing your virtual work partner and to avoid potential problems consider the following:
* if the candidate is in a different time zone, will it influence when you will receive your finished product;
* if the candidate's language is not their first language, will your work require additional editing;
* what will happen if the candidate does not complete and deliver the project on time.
The staff of some firms have been tested and credentialed by various accreditation organizations. You can save yourself from anxiety by checking the credentials and experience of a VA you are considering.
Consider Your Options
Whether you opt for a temp agency, hired staff, or partnering with a Virtual Assistant, administrative support is a worthwhile option to consider. It could be one of the most valuable and cost effective business decisions you make.
About the Author
Sharon Williams is president and CEO of The 24 Hour Secretary, an administrative, secretarial, marketing and internet-based business support firm open 24 hours a day, every day. Her company helps busy and often overwhelmed executives and entrepreneurs, achieve their goals by giving the gift of time. Subscribe to her ezine Smart Business = Success, stocked with tips for busy professionals at http://www.the24hoursecretary.com . Visit her blog for up-to-date marketing strategies and other business tips, at http://www.the24hoursecretary.com/blog/ .