Real Assistants in an Online World

9 Things Your Virtual Assistant Wants You to Know

My team & I love our work as Virtual Assistants and Online Business Managers and truly love all our clients. Once in a while, I hear stories of less than ideal VA/Client relationships. If you’re working with a VA or are looking to work with one in the future, here are a few tips that will help keep your relationship in calm waters:

  1. We’re business owners too and will set our own policies and hours. Even though we sometimes choose to work on your project in the evening or on the weekend, that doesn’t mean you should expect it every time. We have families and personal lives too (just like you!).
  2. Mind readers are only in science fiction. Seriously. As much as we’d love to anticipate your every move, sometimes we need you to be direct and tell us what’s on your mind or what you need from us.
  3. Paying a rock bottom price per hour does not necessarily mean you’re getting a better deal. Will it take that person longer to do the same task? Are they proactive in looking out for your business and offering suggestions for improvement? Will they drop you the minute they get a full-time job offer?
  4. We tend to be perfectionists and strive to meet that goal in all our work, but once in a while we fall just a bit short. Be gentle when pointing those items out and be assured that we won’t repeat the same mistake twice.
  5. We hate asking why our payment is late. We love working with you and worry that non-payment is a sign of your unhappiness with our work. 99% of the time it’s simply a cash flow issue – communicate that and we’ll work with you to find an agreeable resolution!
  6. We love to hear your praise once in a while!
  7. Micromanaging is not helpful. We understand that this is your baby and you’re having a hard time letting go. Let’s work together to develop processes so you feel in the loop and we don’t feel our hands are tied.
  8. Your referrals will not mean you’ll lose our full attention or your work will suffer. You’ll always be a top priority on our schedule.
  9. Trust our areas of expertise. You hired us for specific skills and knowledge, don’t be afraid to trust our advice!

Articles on Working with a Virtual Assistant

Over the years, I’ve kept a list of some great articles about working with a Virtual Assistant. Here are some of my favorites:

Small Business Computing: I Could Have Hired a VA

Business Week: The Real Advantage of Farming it Out & The Many Virtues of Virtual Services Outsource to a VA and Save Money

USA Today: Virtual Assistants give entrepreneurs real help

What’s Your Secret Business Weapon?

Do you have a secret weapon for your business? Speaker Felicia Slattery says her secret weapon is a Virtual Assistant. See why here!

Employee vs. Virtual Assistant

Employee vs. Virtual Assistant

Now that you’ve decided you need some help for the administrative and day-to-day aspects of your business, you have a decision to make: Hire an employee or use a Virtual Assistant? Here are some things to consider when making your decision:

Employee (or a “Temp”)

› You can set their schedule and how they do certain tasks.
› Low(er) hourly rate
› Often able to come into your office to answer phones, file paperwork, etc.
› Must pay payroll taxes, unemployment insurance, liability insurance, possibly benefits, bonuses, etc.
› Might need to provide equipment (computer, desk, software, etc.)
› Must provide and pay for training.
› You will be paying for break times and other non-productive time.
› How long will they stay? Are there advancement opportunities?
You will likely need to promise a certain number of hours per week.
Virtual Assistant
› They have advanced skills and experience in a variety of software and programs. If you find a VA specializing in your industry they will already know industry-specific software, trends, and lingo.
› No benefits, taxes, or insurance to pay.
› No equipment needed – they provide their own!
› They are invested in your business and want to work with you long-term.
You can commit to a lower number of hours (or maybe not commit at all).
› You only pay for actual time spent on your project(s).
› They won’t come into your office to file or answer the phone (although some offer remote phone answering).
› Higher hourly rate (offset by not paying overhead & taxes).

A Virtual Assistant isn’t for everyone. Certain industries need employees and some use both employees and Virtual Assistants. To successfully use a Virtual Assistant be prepared to work virtually (more on that in the next issue!), build a long-term relationship, and be open to new ideas. Now that you’re informed, the choice is up to you!

How to Hire Some Help and Give Yourself a Raise

How to Hire Some Help and Give Yourself a Raise

by Donna Gunter, The Online Biz Resource Queen (TM)

“There’s no way I can hire anyone to do what I do. No one can do it as well as I can.”

Do you resemble that remark? If so, you’ve got much in common with most other business owners in the world. We never think that anyone else will give something the time, attention, and dedication that we will. And, you’re right, to some degree. No one cares as much about your business as you do. However, if you don’t choose to delegate those things that prevent you from engaging in business development, marketing, and sales activities, you won’t be in business very long.

Whether you’re just starting out or have been in business for awhile, the thought of bringing on a support team member can be daunting, and you wonder, “How can I bring in someone else when it’s just going to increase my expenses?”

You need to make the shift to seeing this cost as an investment in your business, rather than as an expense, and let go of the need to be in control.

I recently read about a statistic quoted in the life insurance industry which stated that for every additional support team member employed in a small professional services firm, the firm experienced a 40% increase in gross revenues. Why does this increase occur? Because your support team takes work away from you, which allows you to focus on increasing revenues – either by making more sales or working on the marketing systems that will lead to more sales.

I realize this sounds overly simplistic — if you want to increase your revenues by 40%, simply just employ someone on your support team. Of course, it is not that simple in reality. Hiring a support team requires you to trust your own judgment and use this extra time to generate more revenues. And that’s the key here – if you hire a support person and keep doing what you’re doing, the concept won’t work.

You have to hire the person and ensure that you’re taking on the role of business development.

The best way to illustrate this is to look at your “lost opportunity” costs. Say, for example, you’re a marketing consultant and you charge $175 per hour. Yesterday, your ACT! database was malfunctioning and it took you 7 hours to fix the problem and do the mail merge and printing and mailing of your sales letter to the new list of 100 prospective customers that you just purchased. Do you realize that 7 hours really cost you $1225? How? Your hourly rate of $175/hour multiplied by the number of hours it took you to do this task (7) equals $1225.

What would have been more effective? Finding someone else (like a Virtual Assistant or Online Business Manager) to do this for you in half the time for a portion of your hourly fee. If you had hired the expertise of a masterfully skilled Virtual Assistant charging $45/hour, for example, my guess is that she probably could have completed the project in a portion of the time, say 4 hours, for a final cost to you of $180. Big cost savings over the $1225 it cost you to do the same project. With that project off your plate, you then have the time to go out seeking more $175/hour opportunities.

Amazing, isn’t it? For a mere $180 investment, for example, you now have the time to complete the proposal to do that corporate training program you spoke about with an HR person two weeks ago. A week later, the HR person calls and tells you that they’ve accepted the proposal valued at $10,000 in income over the course of the year. Would you have had time to complete that proposal if you had not handed off this ACT database project? Perhaps, but I bet it would have forced you to work late into the night to complete it.

What operational aspects of your business could you delegate to someone else? If you had extra time, how could you increase the revenues of your business? Give these questions strong consideration–you may be pleasantly surprised by what you discover.

Your Get Clients Online Assignment: Take some time and write out your delegation list — all those things that you hate doing, things that you’re now doing and probably shouldn’t be, as well as all the stuff that’s falling through the cracks. Surprised at the length of the list? Now jot down all those money-making opportunities you’ve missed out on (or don’t have time for) because you’re too caught up in the day-to-day operations of your business. What’s the dollar value of those missed opportunities? Shocking, isn’t it?

Online Business Resource Queen (TM) and Online Business Coach Donna Gunter helps independent service professionals learn how to automate their businesses, leverage their expertise on the Internet, and get more clients online. To claim your FR*EE gift, TurboCharge Your Online Marketing Toolkit, visit her site at Ask Donna an Internet Marketing question at

Colorado VA gets on the Today Show!

Congratulations to Karen Reddick, one of my Virtual Assistant colleagues in the Denver area. She was recently interviewed by NBC’s Today Show about her career as a Virtual Assistant! This is very exciting exposure for all of us in the industry and even more exciting since I have personally collaborated with Karen and we often refer clients to each other.

You can view the entire Today Show segment at:

For more information about Karen or other Colorado VAs, visit