People are often surprised or a little confused by the word ‘virtual’ but when you think about it, everyone works virtually – you do it every time you pick up the phone, use email or participate in a webinar!
A VA is a professional who provides a full PA support service from their own fully equipped office, has public liability & indemnity insurance and pays their own NI/tax. Because they are self employed it means that clients aren’t responsible for any employee-related taxes or training, etc. Clients only pay for 100% productive work and can work with VAs to meet their exact needs and requirements which may be on an on-going basis or for one-off projects. And they don’t have to create any office space or supplies and worry about holidays and sickness.
By embracing new technology VAs can easily maintain regular communications with their clients and their IT systems very easily. The internet and cloud computing is increasingly providing easily-shared, lower-cost software options for start-up firms. The industry is growing rapidly and now some VAs offer specialist services such as diary management, social media management/training, and most have a very solid career background in administration.
To mitigate risk it could be wise for business owners to plan for disaster – flooding, fire, loss of power, staff sickness, travel/weather disruption – a VA can work remotely completely unaffected. Could your business withstand disaster? By being proactive clients don’t lose vital time when a catastrophe does strike.
There are also times when a business may need an extra pair of hands, but perhaps only for a couple of days, or even hours – maybe running a high profile conference or moving office, where the services of a VA could be invaluable.
Although some VAs work for clients all over the world, mine are based in the North East – after all people do business with people, and it has to be said you do have to develop a relationship with a client – it’s no good working alongside someone who you can’t communicate with easily, who perhaps thinks very differently to you, so I do have face-to-face meetings with clients. If the client wishes I sign a confidentiality agreement, and I have a vested interest in that clients’ business so clearly I wouldn’t jeopardise my own business by being careless. As a VA is running their own business they have a good understanding and empathy with their clients too.
The biggest advantage for a client using a VA is being able to spend more time on higher value tasks. After all why would you struggle organising appointments, creating a PowerPoint presentation, maintaining your database when your To Do list is as long as your arm – these are all tasks which can be outsourced to a VA. I have a client who records his interviews, we share the files in Dropbox, then I produce a document – he says it makes his organisation look bigger than it really is because he tells his clients “…and my secretary will type the minutes up”.
Another client said: “Great value primarily by enabling me to focus on growth and sales based activities, and not on administrative tasks. I would say I am now at least able to spend 25% more time on high value tasks”. The flexibility which working with a VA offers enables him to increase/decrease workload as the business necessitates.
So it’s clear to me that clients can focus on growing their business. Working with a VA means:
- You can develop a relationship with someone who is consistent and becomes more knowledgeable about your business
- Someone who is always available, no matter where you are
- Someone who values you as a client and has a vested interest in your success
There are many VA groups and societies and by linking in with them a VA can keep abreast of constantly changing technology, ask advice and questions – there’s always someone who’s been there, done that and got the T-shirt, which saves so much time. VAs can also pass on valuable information to clients too.
Coffee and tea are about the only drawbacks. You’re on your own with that! And you can forget the biscuits too, especially the chocolate ones. I can always send calorie free photos – so much better for you.