This section is designed to help address some of the initial questions you may have about the profession of Virtual Assistance.

Q: What is Virtual Assistance?

A: Virtual Assistance is a fairly new administrative profession. The professionals are called Virtual Assistants, or VAs. VAs are micro business owners who provide administrative and personal support while working in long-term collaborative relationships with only a handful of terrific clients. Using phone, fax and email, VAs support their clients without having to ever step foot inside the clients’ offices.

It’s a fabulous way of working, and opens new doors for administrative professionals!!

Q: What Virtual Assistance isn’t.

A: As you move around the ‘net, you’ll see a variety of definitions about what Virtual Assistance is, and what VAs do. AssistU has always had a strong and distinctive brand of Virtual Assistance which we believe is the highest and best standard for the industry as a whole.

Our brand is about VAs providing administrative and personal support, across the board, in long-term and collaborative relationships. So, a VA is a person who supports a client, across the board, administratively and personally without being geographically present in the client’s location.

Having said that, a VA is not someone who provides consulting services. That person is a consultant. A VA isn’t someone who only provides bookkeeping services. That person is a bookkeeper. A VA isn’t someone who only provides marketing support. That person is a marketing consultant or a marketing assistant. A VA isn’t someone who books speaking engagements. That person is an agent. Nor are VAs Tax Advisors, Accountants, Medical Transcriptionists, Web Designers, or professional business and personal coaches.

In our opinion, what makes a person a VA isn’t that the services can be performed at a distance, but rather that the services that are being performed are administrative in scale and scope, and are provided with the desire to support the client across the board, not with just one specific function or task, no matter how ongoing that might be.

While it’s possible that a VA may offer additional services, those who offer limited, or non-administrative services are not, in our opinion, Virtual Assistants.

Are we judgmental? We don’t believe so. There’s certainly room in the business world for whatever any entrepreneur wants to do. However, we feel, and have always felt, that there needs to be a strong definition of what this profession is about; in order for Virtual Assistance and VAs to have a future, we need to distinguish ourselves and what we offer as distinct from all others.

At AssistU, through our brand, we have been doing that since we formalized the profession years ago, and it’s part and parcel of what we stand for.

Q: I currently do everything myself! Why would I consider working with a VA?

A: Sooner or later you’ll find you simply can’t continue to do it all and have a great life. Something has to give! When you give work to a VA, and allow him or her to proactively support you in reaching your goals, you free up time and energy for an abundance of other things. Those things might include: Growing your business More time with family Responding to other opportunities (professional and personal) Balancing home and work responsibilities

VAs are dedicated, driven, masterfully skilled administrative professionals who genuinely want to powerfully impact your life!

Q: Who would work with a VA?

A: VAs work with successful people of all kinds. Authors, sales people, consultants, coaches, executives, professionals, entrepreneurs — anyone who wants to live a more balanced life with more free time to do the things he/she wants to do!

Q: It sounds wonderful to not have to share my office, but if I wanted an assistant, why would I hire one who is potentially hundreds of miles away?

A: Well, part of the benefit of having a VA is that you haven’t hired anyone. When you work with a VA you get a partner (in the relationship sense, not the legal sense!) not an employee. You get someone who chooses to work with you as much as you choose to work with him or her. The VA’s decision to work with you will be based on being attracted to your work and on being interested in being your partner for success, rather than because he or she is looking for “some job.” People work with VA’s because they: Don’t have the space for someone in the office Don’t want someone in the office Don’t have the equipment needed for someone else to use Don’t want to buy the equipment Don’t want the associated work and cost of having an employee:PayrollBenefitsPaying for someone else to administer payroll, benefitsThe cost of firing an employee

A recent study showed the cost of firing an hourly employee averages close to $1400, including costs for disciplinary warnings and actions taken, documentation, grievances, arbitration, litigation, and unemployment claims. Not included were damage to customer relationships, loss of assets, decreased productivity, or management time to handle the termination process.

Q: Why wouldn’t I want to give my secretarial work to a local company, and have a VA just working on bigger things?

A: You might. However, what people have found is that it doesn’t really pay to do that.

Secretarial services are less expensive per hour. That’s true. The problem is that the people who work there don’t know you, or your business, or your customers. You have to do a lot of work, upfront, before giving them the work, so that they know what you want — and even then, sometimes you need to speak with them several times before your documents, faxes, messages, etc., represent you in your voice.

Once your VA gets to know you, you’ll find he/she can speak for you and write in your voice. Your VA, because he/she has learned you (and you’ve made the investment in the relationship to let him/her get to know you!), can listen to you speak just a few words about what you want done, and make it happen…. sometimes even better than you could have done it yourself.

In addition, the more the VA knows about your needs, the less time it will take him or her to do your work — you may actually save money over time when working with a VA!

So, even for the basic secretarial work, where do you really get your best value?

The key is to remember — a VA becomes your partner for success. A secretarial service helps you for the short term.

Q: Isn’t it more expensive than hiring an employee?

A: No. The cost savings is two-fold: financial and emotional.

When you hire an employee, on top of a salary or hourly wage, you have a ton of things you need to administer (payroll, benefits, etc.), many things to buy or lease (equipment, furniture, etc.), and you have to share space well. It’s expensive and can be grueling.

Depending on the VA, you might pay-as-you-go — giving him or her only the amount of work you actually have during any week or month, or you might have him or her on retainer — buying a certain amount of the VA’s time each month for a pre-set (and usually lower) hourly rate.

No muss, no fuss. Just great support from someone dedicated to your success.

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