Not long ago, Jim Pagiamtzis asked me to think about two questions:
- What got me involved in the VA industry? and
- How can a VA benefit different businesses?
Well, the first is easy. I got fired; I got fired by a church. Fortunately for me (not for them), it was wrongful dismissal and I walked away with a mitt full of money. Now a friend of mine had, years before, done a program through the government called the Self Employment Assistance Program and I before that, I had tried to start my own secretarial service. The two sounded like they might connect so I decided to check it out.
Horror of horrors, one of the things I had to do to qualify for the program was stand in front of a room full of other hopefuls and explain what my idea was and why I was ideally suited to start a VA business. Like most people, I would rather have walked down the street naked – okay, well maybe not naked – than talk to a room full of people. On top of that, one of the other hopefuls told me my idea was “stupid” – in a heavy Russian accent. I have no idea how I got through that day, but I was accepted into the program in 2003 (and so was the Russian guy) and I have never looked back.
The trickier question is how can a VA benefit various businesses; tricky because there are so many answers to that question. As Michael Gerber states in The E-Myth Revisited, most new start ups fail in the first 5 years because they try to do everything themselves, not just whatever it was that got them into business in the first place.
One of the ways a VA can assist almost any entrepreneur is by doing customer service: this happens to be what I enjoy the most. This can take the form of answering the phone (receptionist), booking appointments/calendar management (admin assistant) and trouble shooting (tickets or customer service desk).
There are numerous other tasks that a VA can do including research, project management, presentation preparation, invoicing, collecting on outstanding invoices (some do the entire bookkeeping gig). I have prepared documents, edited/proof read web pages, manuscripts, documents, Powerpoint presentations; called client’s customers and elicited testimonials for the client and then written the testimonial for the customer to sign; mass mailings, mass e-mailings and acted as gatekeeper. One of the strangest things I’ve ever done was babysit some documents in the basement of a law office…for 3 days!
The real benefit of using a VA for any of the above tasks or others, limited only by your imagination, is that the VA can do one, two or many of the tasks. A VA can be hired for a specific task, for a specific period (May), or a block of time (5 hours).
The only limit is your imagination.