Published LinkedIn 22nd February 2016
I recently saw an advertisement in one of Northern Ireland’s leading newspapers placed by a busy entrepreneur who was looking for a remote PA who would mostly complete administrative tasks for them away their business premises, i.e. virtually.
It reinforced my concern that few very self-employed small business owners in N. Ireland (who are my main target client) know that 1) administrative support on a remote pay as you need basis exists 2) that the term for the professional providing this service is ‘Virtual Assistant’ (common abbreviation =VA).
My existing clients have all affirmed that they didn’t have the reflection to look for the administrative assistance they needed by searching the term ‘ virtual’ but rather under terms such as ‘PA’, ‘secretarial services’ ,‘remote administrative support’ etc.
What is a Virtual Assistant?
Definition of a Virtual Assistant: a highly-skilled, independent professional who remotely provides administrative, technical and/or creative business support services’
A Virtual Assistant is exactly what the name implies :
- A person (male or female) who with the beauty of modern technology i.e. virtually can assist you with whatever time-consuming business support needs you have
- This person normally works in a location physically remotely to you, i.e. virtually from their own office
- This person can work even in a different time-zone to yourself within reason (for last few months I have liaised with a service provider on PST which worked out surprisingly well).
Generally, Virtual Assistants tend to have 8-10yrs (15yrs in my case) varied administrative experience across a range of sectors, have developed a range of specialised skills and sometimes in different locations (I’ve worked abroad 10/16yrs of my working life). A lot of Virtual Assistants I know have worked with such a level of autonomy and flexibility that they decided to become freelance so they can share their expertise with a range of clients.
How do you know you actually need a VA?
As a micro/small-business owner, how do you know you actually need a VA? Like those quizzes you fill out in magazines, the answer depends on how many times you answer YES to questions below:
- Are you struggling in a day to manage your ToDoList mainly due to all time consuming administrative tasks you have?
- Do you need to outsource administrative tasks but don’t have resources to hire a full time PA/admin support?
- Do you need to outsource administrative tasks but don’t have physical space to house a full time PA/admin support or don’t want someone intruding in your space?
- Do you need someone you can trust implicitly with confidential data related to your business /personal life and who you don’t need to spend hours training?
- Do you think your time would be better spent concentrating on growing your business rather than on administrative tasks?
- Is your work time eating increasingly into your private time?
If you answered YES to 2 or more of questions above, then you need a Virtual Assistant! But where to find one?
How to you find a ‘Virtual Assistant’?
Whether you need help on a one-off project (e.g. researching a CRM system), or need someone for ongoing support (e.g. formatting quarterly/annual reports, managing your social media accounts etc.), there are several Directories specifically listing VAs such as BeMyVa (search by country/county/skillset) or you can advertise on sites such as Elance and Peopleperhour. In a small country like Northern Ireland most VAs list themselves under secretarial services in general directories such as 4NI.co.uk, Yell.com and/or local Entreprise agencies directories. We may also have a strong presence on Facebook and Twitter or even put an advertisement in our local paper. Each VA offers different services and packages unique to their skills. You can search in LinkedIn of course under term virtual. Check out my profile https://uk.linkedin.com/in/alisonmatthewsvirtuali/en
Spreading the ‘virtual’ word
So you are a busy entrepreneur reading this and in the course of a few minutes you’ve learnt-what a Virtual Assistant is, how they can help you and where to find them! What is next step?
Please keep spreading the word! An independent review on self-employment was recently completed by Julia Deane on behalf of the UK Government. She stated that ‘the number of self-employed in the UK currently stands at 4.6m, an all-time high. Furthermore this number is growing and the trend seems set to continue. This group now represents 15% of the UK workforce’. Seemingly only 25% of these people have a full time paid employee. As this trend continues proportionately I think the Virtual Assistance industry will also continue to grow to meet demands of these businesses many of which are micro/small so please help promote us VAs so we can help you, the busy entrepreneur continue to grow!
VirtuAli Administrative Solutions