Virtual Assistants & You

secretary-544180_960_720You know what’s really great? Being your own boss! The freedom to do your own thing. Working when you want to work, and playing when you want to play. Work/Life balance. Less stress, and more “yes”! Yes to time with friends, new opportunities, leisure activities, and family bonding. Yes to time enough for hitting the gym, cooking three healthy squares a day, and a solid 8 hours at night.

Wait, that’s not how it’s happening for you?!?! You say you’re working 17 hours a day, sleeping 4, and shuttling your kids to and from soccer for the other 3? Something’s got to give!

I have an idea. Have you ever considered a Virtual Assistant? There are some situations in which they can be an absolute lifesaver, for example:

• If you find yourself stretched too thin on a day-to-day or week-to-week basis, wondering how you’ll get everything done each day, a Virtual Assistant might be able to help relieve the pressure.
• If hours of your day are spent on simple tasks, while the real money-making opportunities sit on the back burner waiting for some attention, it might be time to consider a Virtual Assistant.
• If you just don’t want to work 7 days a week anymore, hiring a Virtual Assistant for weekend support could be the way to go.
• Virtual Assistants can also be really great for unexpected situations where time off on your part is needed, like a family emergency or the flu. Or even those one-off “I’m going to my friend’s wedding in Mexico for a week and there will definitely be tequila” times. (Don’t judge me.)

Whatever the reason may be, sometimes we all need a break. Right? Right! That’s where a VA can be your saving grace. Some things to keep in mind when deciding what can and should be delegated to a VA:

• If the task at hand involves easy, repetitive tasks, and particularly if it takes up a lot of your time, this could probably be handed off to a VA. Data entry for the truckload of Health and Beauty products you just took delivery of. Screening sales calls to your 800 number with a basic series of questions. Sending letters or mass-emailing. Anything that would involve an uncomplicated (read: hard to screw up) Standard Operating Procedure, that doesn’t require you to hover over them. No one likes a hoverer!
• If it is something you have totally mastered and can do in your sleep, this too could be something a VA might take over for you. If you can be available via instant message or chat, particularly while they ramp up for a few weeks, you might end up with a gem of a helper and a chance at reclaiming an extra hour or two of beauty sleep as time moves on.
• Answering your CS emails with pre-written blurbs that are easy to tailor, is another excellent task for a Virtual Assistant. During my time as a consultant I have written an extensive library of blurbs for this very purpose! And I’d be happy to share it with you. For a small fee, of course. (A woman’s gotta eat.)

By studying the questions that are generally sent to CS by customers, and then writing standardized responses to those questions, a few things are accomplished:

1. Your company message stays on point. No wrong answers, because you already answered it right the first time. They are just copying your blurb.
2. The tone of your company message stays consistent. Is your VA cranky today? Was that customer message totally infuriating? Doesn’t matter. Just cut and paste and move on. Don’t need to get emotionally involved, and don’t need to worry about your true feelings coming out.
3. You can free yourself to do other stuff. You’re not starting from scratch every time you open an email. Just say it again, for the first time. Using blurbs might not highlight your creative writing superpowers, but the message is new (and informative) to your customer, and that’s all that really counts.
4. Writing the answer comprehensively the one time, means that you can craft a really great response that will wow customers every time, and possibly even empower them with knowledge. A link to the Amazon Help Pages, for example, is a great resource for a lot of questions. They might not have thought to consult it, or maybe they didn’t even know it was there. Look at you, being all helpful!

Bottom line: Anything that frees you up to take on the big projects, which will make you the big bucks, is a winning proposition in my book! There are a number of great VA options out there. From teams based throughout the world in order to maximize every penny of your budget, to teams based in the US for a more local feel. I’ve seen private contractors who specialize in certain areas, and freelance Executive Assistants who virtually support you in whatever way you need. This online world we live in means that so many different opportunities are available for us all. Everything can (some might say should) be done in a cloud, meaning that it’s not dependent on you and your computer. You can get a project started, upload it, and your contractor can take it from there. You could spill coffee all over your laptop and (while that really is very sad), all your work is still accessible on the web. That means the show can go on while you remedy the hardware situation. The efficiency of your business is no longer tied to your own personal efficiency/productivity. What a time to be alive!

If you’re finding yourself stretched too thin and considering a Virtual Assistant, or are interested in purchasing a Blurb Library in order to streamline your time spent customer service-ing, give me a shout. I’d be so happy to virtually assist you in finding a Virtual Assistant!

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