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Could you work without a staff?

The Internet has made working, collaborating and sharing down right simple. With it many businesses are living the dream of running multi-million dollar business without any permanent staff. This magic is done increasingly at the hands of a growing world of workers known as virtual assistants. A virtual assistant is someone who is set-up to complete tasks remotely for a fee.

Some folks rely on virtual assistants to do administrative tasks such as bill paying, but virtual assistants also handle marketing tasks such as writing, research and web site maintenance.

I’ve recently started outsourcing some of my marketing tasks to Erin Blaskie, a self-professed techie who provides services more like a partner than a admin.

I thought it would be great to have Erin on an episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast so small business owners could learn more about the industry as a whole. VAs are a great way for small business owners to get things done so they can focus on the strategic work of the business.

I wrote about the idea of time management and focusing on work that is the highest payoff in a recent post. I think the idea of utilizing virtual assistants goes very nicely with that thread.

Are you utilizing virtual workers? I would love to hear how it has worked and what kind of work you find you can effectively delegate in this manner.

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  • http://www.blahblahtech.com/ Wayne Smallman

    I’m currently looking to expand on an idea, which may benefit from virtual assistant to implement the stuff I don’t have the time to do myself.

    Thing is, your idea is only as good as the people behind it. So your choice of VA is key…

  • http://www.vasecrets.com Kathy

    I am a VA and have been almost since the industry began. You can pick up bits and pieces of advice about how to work with a VA, what they do, how the relationship works, how to interview for a VA, etc. all over the Internet or you can get it all in one PDF book called, “Internet Business Management, How to Find, Hire and Work With Virtual Assistants” written by a real-life coach/VA team and includes an interview with the president of one of America’s top VA organizations. http://www.vasecrets.com

    It’s a terrific relationship when both parties know what to expect and how to communicate. Good Luck with your VA search! Oh, you can find VAs at http://www.avirtualresume.com

  • http://www.ChrysalisBD.com Andrea S.

    I’ve become a sort of accidental VA (but happily so!) to some of my clients…I like to think that offering these services greatly increases the value of their time, and also helps them to target certain tasks (such as research projects, a common need) more effectively.
    In order to use VAs successfully, communication is essential. (BOTH WAYS!) Without an understand of you and your company, the VA’s work (especially on important projects like marketing plans) will be very hollow. And without your continuous input, it’s easy for projects to go quickly astray of what was really intended.

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  • John Jantsch

    The Accidental VA, I smell a book title in there somewhere!

    The theme is the same from both VA and client – the fit is so important. Expectations and relationship building are keys.

  • http://www.virtualassistantnetworking.com/ Danielle Keister

    The Virtual Assistance Chamber of Commerce is a great source for finding qualified Virtual Assistant professionals. Of interest to your readers who’d like to work with a Virtual Assistant:

    Virtual Assistant Directory:
    http://www.virtualassistantnetworking.com/directory/

    RFP Center: http://www.virtualassistantnetworking.com/rfp-center.php

    Client Guide: http://www.virtualassistantnetworking.com/client-guide.htm

    How to Hire a Virtual Assistant: http://www.virtualassistantnetworking.com/how-to-hire-a-virtual-assistant.htm

  • http://flektor-blog.com kristen

    I know realtors use VAs quite a bit. This tool is a must in the real estate industry to accomplish many of those grueling tasks that you don’t have time for if you are showing homes and writing contracts.

  • http://www.ravensroads.com Linda R. Moore

    I’ve used a VA to produce some newsletters and mailings. My office suite is nothing if not basic and it was just a lot easier to outsource that stuff. I’d do more if I could, but I’m not there yet. Actually, what I’d really love to outsource is the accounting, which I despise, but I’m not there yet, financially.

  • http://www.threerooms.com Brandorama

    Thanks for link to the virtual assistant sites. It is amazing one can have a company with employees but all virtual staff.

    Chris
    http://www.threerooms.com

  • http://www.sandrapearsontdc.com Sandra Pearson

    John, Thank you for your wonderful insight – I especially love your comment that your VA can be more a than just an admin. At Team Double-Click, we work with small business owners every day to place quality VA’s and the ones who truly build that partnership are the most successful. ~Sandra

  • http://www.helpvirtual.biz Kate LaFrance

    John, great topic, as always! I’ve been working virtually for over a year and I have come to know many wonderful entrepreneurs as clients and associates. My focus is on internet marketing support – implementing the plans that have been devised by marketing gurus, such as yourself. As Danielle says, the VACOC is a great place to make a VA connection. They are true professionals, not just remote workers hired by a staffing firm. Thanks!

  • http://www.AcumenVA.com Mia Chambers

    If you are interested in working with a VA, it’s important to consult with a few VAs to find your ideal fit.

    I am a VA and in the time I have been in business, I have found the two following sites to be invaluable in my pursuit of ideal clients.

    VACOC – The Virtual Assistance Chamber of Commerce

    AssistU

  • John Jantsch

    Mia,

    I agree about working with

  • http://www.virtuallyworkingforyou.com Mary Judge

    I’m also a VA and absolutely love running my own business. I think the most important thing about being a VA is the business relationship that you develop between yourself & the client. It isn’t the same as a temp agency or even a virtual staffing agency. You wouldn’t always get the same person if you went through those channels.

    I absolutely love the connections I’ve made with other professional VA’s through the VACOC (Virtual Assistance Chamber of Commerce). The are a great group of real professionals running their own businesses and making business relationships with their clients to make them successful.

  • http://www.vanetworking.com Tawnya Sutherland

    Feel free to stop by our online community called The Virtual Assistant Networking Association (VANA) at http://www.vanetworking.com

    We are the largest, informative, educational & resourceful VA community online with almost 7,000 members now. You can find out everything and anything you need to know about virtual assistance here at our VA portal. Everything from where to find VAs to the top ten ways a VA can revolutionize your business.

    Outsourcing to a VA, the areas of work that you don’t want to do, will free up your time to do what you do best in your business, MAKE MONEY! You can easily find a VA by submitting a RFP at our Virtual Assistant Networking Association (VANA) at http://www.VAnetworking.com/RFP/ We are the portal for Virtual Assistants and no matter what type of VA you are looking for, you will be sure to find them here.

    On a publicity note, if you already utilize a Virtual Assistant in your business, please take part in our marketing campaign to help Oprah to take notice of Virtual Assistants at http://www.vanetworking.com/oprah We want to provide Oprah with an answer to this question: How have the services of a Virtual Assistant helped your business succeed? So please stop by and tell her. Thanks!

  • http://www.small-business-guru.com Andrew Brown

    John,
    Yes – i’ve had some success (and some challenges) with VAs.

    Overall I have to say – I wouldn’t be as productive without their help. But it’s still delegating work — and for small business owners that’s sometimes a challenge. You have to be clear on your outcomes, your expectations, and you have to be patient. If you hope to get past them doing onesy – twosy type takes and really integrate them into your business process, it takes time to get it right and you really have to work on standardizing your processes. If you aren’t disciplined — your VA won’t be.

  • http://www.timeisoftheescents.com Patty

    We would enjoy you stopping by VAnetworking.com,
    the largest Virtual Assistant organization on the Internet, with close to 7,000
    members. We have new individuals that are learning about the industry, along
    with veteran VAs who have been around for a number of years.
    You might be interested in looking at a few areas on the site:
    VA Directory (with over 950 VA Websites)
    RFP Area
    VA Survey (statistics coming
    soon)
    We enjoy working with our clients, helping each other, and spreading the word
    about the Virtual Assistant Industry. As others have said…outsourcing to a
    Virtual Assistant frees you up to work on other areas that are important to
    your business.

  • http://www.snap-va.com Karri Flatla

    I know Erin and she’s one smart cookie. You’ll not regret your choice to take on a VA like her, John.

    Partnering virtually is by far one of the most powerful ways to not only streamline your business operation but to find that “perfect fit” where talent meets dynamism meets entrepreneurship!

    Do drop by our virtual community at http://www.vanetworking.com. It’s become an online phenomenon unto itself with over 7000 members. I can honestly say that nearly every wildly successful VA I know has spent time there-growing, skill building, sharing and networking.

    See you in cyberspace!

  • http://www.ABalancedAlternative.com Vickie Turley

    Hi John:

    Thank you for providing some information on a still-little known industry.

    A virtual assistant is there to provide administrative support for those business owners who are looking to take their business to the next level. The time you are spending on the back-office tasks is time spent away from producing income in your business.

    There are many VA’s out there, so due diligence is needed to find the right fit when looking for a VA. The VACOC is a wonderful place for business owners who are looking, but aren’t exactly sure what they are looking for. Check them out. The resources are amazing and you can find the answers to all your questions.

    Vickie Turley
    A Balanced Alternative

  • http://www.MyGoToGal.net Tracey DelCamp

    Thanks for this great article, Dan, and sharing with your readers the many benefits you’ve experienced with partnering with a VA.

    For your readers’ benefit, I strongly recommend they research VACOC (Virtual Assistant Chamber of Commerce) when looking to partner with a VA. VACOC screens all of their VA’s to ensure they meet high standards and ethics. Your readers can feel confident in knowing that only the best of the best can be found at VACOC.

  • http://www.marketingcurve.com Jennifer Gniadecki

    I started as a Virtual Assistant, then moved on to a different business model…but I still keep in close contact and volunteer at VANA (www.vanetworking.com) because I feel that it’s really important to give back and help others find the success I’ve found.

    I hired my VA from that pool of over 6,000 – and she has been an absolute dream to work with. Three months in and she can practically read my mind.

  • http://www.valliance2u.com TracyLynn2U

    I started my VA business a little over a year ago. My first client was my employer who welcomed the idea of having me available to her when she needed me. She understood what setting a boundary meant and our relationship flourished.

    For many business owners though, taking that first step into a VA/Client relationship can be a true leap of faith. For many, the technological aspect alone is a daunting task to overcome.

    However, because of the advances in technology and the willingness of so many to offer Administrative Support utilizing their own office space, equipment, software and resources, all it might take to transition a potential client into this VA world is some useful marketing material, links to industry organizations (VACOC and IVAA) and simply stating, with conviction, the benefits a VA can offer them.

    Understanding that the traditional Employer/Employee relationship is not a necessity in today’s world will take some true educating on the part of the VA industry.

  • http://www.larobe.com LaTanya Robinson

    Hello John,

    Thanks for providing some insight into this amazing industry. There are many VAs and VA organizations in existence, so due diligence is necessary to find the true professionals in this field.

    The VACOC is a great resource for finding top notch and experienced professionals.

  • http://www.vasynergy.com Dona

    Hi,

    After being employed as an Executive Assistant for 20ish years in various corporate industry environments, I am now proud to be self-employed as a Virtual Assistant.

    For more information about the industry and the strategic value a Virtual Assistant can provide, I encourage everyone to explore the following two sites:

    VACOC
    http://www.virtualassistantnetworking.com/

    AssistU
    http://www.assistu.com/client/client_why.shtml

  • http://kdmbusinesssupport.com Karen Del’Marmol

    Time can’t be managed. But people, and what they do, can. Using a professional Virtual Assistant is an ideal way to help you manage yourself. A good VA will collaborate with you to help move your business upward.

    As a Virtual Assistant, I’ve found the Virtual Assistance Chamber of Commerce (VACOC) to be the epitome of VA organizations. I concur with what others have stated about searching for your VA: consult with at least three to be sure you’ve found your ideal business ally. You won’t find the most, but you will find the best and the brightest at the VACOC.

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