Home – New Forums New here? Share your story Hi all! Virtual Assistant – thoughts anyone?

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  • #965113
    Virtual.Assistant
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    Good morning all,

    a new member to Flying Solo, my name is Erin and I am a 26 year old Virtual Assistant based in Brisbane.

    I’ve found that my business has been predominantly based on Clients I have been able to meet face to face, as so many businesses aren’t yet ready to embrace the sheer wonder of Virtual Assistance as yet.

    Does anyone have any thoughts on really connecting with others online? Being that VA work is always done electronically, I’ve found it really interesting that recruiting new Clients seems to be something that I can only do through in person contact.

    Generally they know little about VA’s and what we have to offer, and talking them through the how’s and why’s in person cements the faith and begins a really great business relationship.

    Having said that, there are so many businesses I could do such wonderful things for which aren’t in the greater Brisbane area.

    Are there ways of breaking through this barrier short of annoying potential Clients with mailouts?

    Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

    Erin – VA

    #1010120
    Richard A
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    • Total posts: 92
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    Hi Erin

    From my research the VA trend seems to be focused on using offshore talent from either India or the Phillipines because it is extremely cheap. I have even looked at this myself and plan to appoint someone once I get a bit busier with incoming work.
    I would think that for you to competitively offer VA services from Australia you would need a “hook” or something that you say you specialise in, be it a talent or skill you have or simply focusing on a business sector you know well. I reckon you are on the right track aiming at home-businesses or soloists, as we have made a conscious decision to work from home and would prefer to outsource tasks than have to hire an employee!
    This is just my opinion though!
    Look forward to hearing how you go?
    R

    #1010121
    Virtual.Assistant
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    Thank you kindly for your reply Richard.

    I agree, outsourcing is becoming highly popular due to the low costs involved and I feel it is a reasonable option for tasks which are basic and don’t require excessive English skill.

    Having said that, I came across an entrepreneur who was using services from India and I convinced her to give me a shot at the same work for the same rate she was paying her offshore VA.

    It involved a lot of complex data analysis and reporting on that data. When she received the final product she was so impressed that she is now a major client of mine and hasn’t gone back to outsourcing.

    Having said that, it’s so important to keep overheads low these days and I came to realise that at a networking breakfast I attended this morning. The gentleman seated next to me was just a delightful guy with a small retail outlet, needing his enormous stack of invoices to be turned into a customer database for mailout purposes.

    I restructured my fees for such an easy task, which I think is important when it comes down to something as simple as data entry and it might be a way to keep VA work in Australia, as it still provides work for the VA, and a service to the Client which can lead to an ongoing relationship.

    The ‘hook’ side of things is a tricky one, having worked in such varied industries myself and therefore having acquired a much broader skillset than your average admin worker. I therefore set my fees well below standard as a way of appealing to more soloists and small businesses, however I’ve been told several times that this can often be more off-putting than appealing as it gives a “bargain basement” feel.

    A tricky industry, Virtual Assistance, but I absolutely adore what I do I must say!

    #1010122
    Burgo
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    Being one of or possibly be the only one of my generation on the forum Ive often wondered just what is a VA and what do they do?

    Secondly pricing is important.
    You may want to have a sliding scale of fees from the high end for those that can afford it to mates rates for those who you would just love to help out from time to time adjusting your rates as their business develops with your help.

    Does this sound reasonable or am I way off as usual

    #1010123
    Virtual.Assistant
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    Hi Burgo,

    Basically a VA is a Personal Assistant/Office Manager/Admin Manager/Admin Assistant all wrapped up into one little package.

    Generally, a good VA is someone with extensive experience in Admin who operates from a highly functioning home office. The beauty of a VA is we can take on anything from an hour’s worth of work to ongoing regular projects which is great for businesses for a multitude of reasons, such as;

    – No recruitment costs
    – No super/holiday/sick leave costs
    – No downtime costs
    – No need to keep staff occupied

    So for example, if you have a pile of hard copy documents you’d like typed or perhaps have a database created with the info, you could easily scan it and email it through to a VA who would simply get on with it and shoot it back to you.

    Some of the things I personally do for my clients are;

    – Recruitment – a low hourly rate for a fully capable admin guru to source his staff as opposed the the thousands of dollars a recruitment agency charges in commission
    – Online networking – I have a client who has me create blog entries, Twitter updates, website content updates etc. This type of work is most suited to a VA with excellent creative writing skills
    – Basic design – A client was having trouble attracting new customers to his hair salon, so I brainstormed with him to come up with a series of offers which I then turned into a printable flyer for him. His business doubled within a week.
    – Research and data analysis – One client likes for me to research certain industries and report back to her, including interviews and such
    – Data entry
    – Sourcing properties – I do some work for a property developer who has me source viable properties for him to purchase

    The list goes on and on. They simply give me a phone call or an email and once I confirm when they are needing the work by, it’s all systems go!

    I think the sliding scale is very fair and a great idea really.

    As I mentioned before, this gentlement who owns the small store simply needs data entry done. I halved my hourly rate for him due to the nature of the work being very simple. And in the end, with hope there may be more work for me from his business when he’s delighted with the final product so it works both ways.

    Thanks for your reply Burgo!

    Erin

    #1010124
    Richard A
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    • Total posts: 92
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    Hmmm…I think I see your hook. You are probably much more capable than whet you would use an o/s VA for.

    I like the sound of your research skills. Can you send me your pricing schedule? You can send to private email if you would prefer it not to be seen by all and sundry!

    R

    #1010125
    Virtual.Assistant
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    • Total posts: 39
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    I’ve sent you a private message Richard, outlining the schedule. Thanks again!

    Having said that, my standard fees are outlined on my website for anyone else who may be wondering however are negotiable for simple tasks such as data entry, typing etc.

    http://www.perikai.com

    #1010126
    FionaFell
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    Hi Erin,

    Connecting with other people may not be a strong point for me, being on the shy side of things, but I have found that finding a unique way of telling people what you do helps.

    You can then use this when being introduced to people, be that online or in person. I have found online forums and some blogs as a good way to connect; especially if you actively participate.

    I would be very interested in finding out more about how a virtual assistant could help me in my business. Drop me an email if you have time. (If it helps with your connections, I am NOT in Brisbane, or even QLD)

    Fiona

    #1010127
    JagO1213
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    • Total posts: 27
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    Virtual.Assistant, post: 9920 wrote:
    Good morning all,

    a new member to Flying Solo, my name is Erin and I am a 26 year old Virtual Assistant based in Brisbane.

    I’ve found that my business has been predominantly based on Clients I have been able to meet face to face, as so many businesses aren’t yet ready to embrace the sheer wonder of Virtual Assistance as yet.

    Does anyone have any thoughts on really connecting with others online? Being that VA work is always done electronically, I’ve found it really interesting that recruiting new Clients seems to be something that I can only do through in person contact.

    Generally they know little about VA’s and what we have to offer, and talking them through the how’s and why’s in person cements the faith and begins a really great business relationship.

    Having said that, there are so many businesses I could do such wonderful things for which aren’t in the greater Brisbane area.

    Are there ways of breaking through this barrier short of annoying potential Clients with mailouts?

    Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

    Erin – VA

    Hi
    Have you thought of perhaps putting an introductory video on your website or as a virtual business card….and then also suggest video calls so people get the comfort that you are actually a realy person.

    Jag

    #1010128
    Virtual.Assistant
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    • Total posts: 39
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    Jag – LOVE that idea! It’s brilliant! I will definitely take that up thank you.

    Fiona, I will message you now. I used to personally be a bit shy myself, and I’m not a particularly brazen young woman so the networking events help insofar as people are all pretty much in a similar situation to you and are all genuinely interested in knowing about your business and not only what it can offer them but what they can offer you.

    There are so many businesses that have no idea as to what a VA actually does and that we really can be such a good business ‘companion’ for want of a better word. It’s all the plusses of having your own Personal Assistant, without the price tag, HR issues or complications of permanent or temp staff.

    We’re available around the clock which is great for Soloists renowned for those late night marathons and I know I personally LOVE working of an evening which means the smaller tasks are often there ready for you first thing the next morning!

    #1010129
    zenStudio
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    • Total posts: 19
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    Hi There,

    Have you considered widening your customer base by having a web based system to let people:

    A: read about your serves (website)
    B: submit work to you (quote request first and then a client login)

    You might be able to automate the process by letting people submit jobs and you can easily update their status and reduce your contact with them, letting you get on with doing the job.

    This would also help exposure if you were to attached a blog or even just some advice/tips to get the people searching for a Virtual Assistant to your website, then join your client base.

    I hope this helps.

    Mark

    #1010130
    Virtual.Assistant
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    • Total posts: 39
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    Hi Mark,

    my website is http://www.perikai.com and I have an online form for businesses to request work and/or submit a query.

    However I haven’t created an online Client Log In. I worry VA work is already very faceless and Clients like the contact/updates I offer through email?

    This is a very interesting concept however Mark. Something I had not even considered. Does anyone else feel like an online log in with job statuses would be a more appealing system?

    Erin

    #1010131
    zenStudio
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    • Total posts: 19
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    I would probably fire off an email whenever you update a task, just to keep that contact going. It would also let you build a client database so that say you hit a flat spot, you could easily send a courtesy email letting your client base know you are available for any tasks.

    Just an idea :)

    #1010132
    Virtual.Assistant
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    That’s a great idea Mark, thankyou very much!

    #1010133
    Burgo
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    • Total posts: 2,104
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    Thanks Erin

    Now I can see there is a real market for VA’s and wish I had have known about VA’s when I has my business’

    I think i said something on another post where Tradies are usually very good at what they do but have no knowledge of Admin Marketing etc This is where i see a good VA helping these Tradies and small business get on their feet and develop the business. Most of these guys just hire a bookkeeper or try to go it alone and thats why so many of them fail.( Doing it on their own)
    Thanks again
    patrick

    ps I am impressed what you VA’s do I have put a post on the Carpet Cleaners Forum / ICAN room to see if we gat any responses if so I will then put it to the other 600 members of the forum.
    I understand we have a number of VA’s here on the forum, so if thre response is favorable I migh try and create a register of VA’s

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