Did 2010 leave you thinking, “I could have had a VA?”

Business owners, as you close out your books in 4Q and you look back on the year, how did it go? It may be that business was good but could have been so much better if you weren’t spread so thin. Have you been thinking of working with a Virtual Assistant? Why not start now? Now is the perfect time to get help as you carve out your plans for 2011. Once you bring your VA into your practice, she will help you brainstorm what needs to get done and ways to accomplish those goals. Bring her in during your 4Q planning and wrap-up and you will both be able to hit the ground running to focus on your 2011 goals. http://www.101eldercare.com/

If you are an entrepreneur doing everything yourself, the best gift you can give your business is the expert help that it needs to run, so you can do what you do best. If you’re overwhelmed, partnering with a VA is the best ongoing gift you can give yourself, your family and your clients because an over-extended version of you isn’t much good to anyone.

I realize that many entrepreneurs don’t know that help is available. You may think that the only way to get your back-end processes and tasks accomplished is to do them yourself or hire an employee which isn’t feasible because of your home office and budget. There is a better solution. A Virtual Assistant is not an employee; she is a business owner who is an expert in the back-end business details. And she works from her own home office. Maybe you just need more information. You’re in luck! Below are answers to some FAQs about partnering with a Virtual Assistant.

Bottom line: Your business needs ongoing support to grow, so look for a VA who will be your long-term, right-hand, primary administrative support partner. A Virtual Assistant can help move your business growth forward with ease.

I recently listened to an interview with Anastacia Brice, founder of AssistU. Below is a summary of the learnings from that interview, which answers questions for entrepreneurs wanting to know more about working with a Virtual Assistant. *These are highlights with some of my own insights and not a verbatim transcript.

Q: What is a VA?
A: A Virtual Assistant is an Administrative professional who is an expert in running the administrative pieces of your business. A VA loves taking care of the back-end pieces that all businesses have. A VA loves to make things hum, buzz, sing, and dance. A VA’s passion for the administrative details fits nicely with a business owner who doesn’t have this same passion because the help a VA provides frees you up to do what you love and are good at. There is another online business support industry out there that focuses on project and piece work and they then need to go find more clients after every project. The AssistU business model that VAs are taught to follow is one of a long-term collaborative relationship. This means the VA is more present to focus on her clients’ businesses. The biggest difference between other online support services and a highly skilled VA is the collaborative relationship. Collaboration allows for a higher quality contribution. As a VA, I work with a small group of clients long term. Now other people have come along and added their own spin to what a Virtual Assistant is. Others have hung out their VA sign but they only want to handle one slice of your business or project work. AssistU trained VAs are fabulous administrative professionals, your one stop shop for support and your primary partner. With that said, if everyone reading this were to learn 500 new things every day, we still will never know it all. It is folly to expect a VA to do everything you need. But a fabulous VA should be a one stop shop in terms of getting it done or finding resources to get it done. A VA can’t be all things to all people, nor can anyone. But a VA is a great resource for finding ways to make things happen.

Q: What if I struggle with allowing someone to represent my company when I’ve been doing everything myself?
A: Do you somehow feel it’s important for it to look like you’re doing everything yourself in your business — as if all email replies should come from you as the owner? Do you feel as though you’re advocating responsibility for your business if you let others figure things out on their own? As a business owner, even if you are a solopreneur, you infuse the culture of your company with important principles. As long as the people you have helping you share those values and fit with your long term objectives, you should be able to trust them to free up your time. Anastacia’s standard is that whatever goes out of here has to go out with grace and love. If you were comfortable with your VA’s communication skills when you partnered with her, trust that she will communicate in that way for you. She will interact with your clients in a way that they feel heard, loved and gotten. Then sit back and don’t worry about those tasks and communications that you no longer have to handle. If you need an eBook designer, trust that your VA will look for a great one who fits with your company culture. Because she “gets” the client, she will look for resources that fit with the client’s values and culture. Once you see that you are working with someone who has your best interests at heart, it’s easier to loosen the grip on the steering wheel and successfully delegate tasks that represent your company. Almost everything is better carried out by a VA than completed by you when you’re overextended. No matter how small, your company has a culture. You are the driving force for your business and you infuse it with who you are and what you want for it. Skills can be learned but people who come in must fit with your values and culture. VAs get the tasks of today handled and also look out at the landscape ahead. VAs walk next you on your business path and can be the voice of reason to remind you of your vision.

Q: I’ve been waiting until I had systems in place and was at the top of my game to get help, but it never seems to be the perfect time. How do I know when I’m ready for help?
A: You don’t have to be on top of your game and have everything in order before partnering with a VA. The time will never come if you wait for everything to be perfect. As business owners we’re always fine-tuning and launching and growing. There is no such thing as a time when things are settled or perfect. The perfect time to get help is now. Your VA can help you figure out what systems to implement. There is one mindset you need to shed before partnering with a VA, though. If you have come into business ownership after you were an employee from somewhere else, I would caution you to check that corporate mentality at the door. You know, the thinking that my assistant is “less than” or does the grunt work. If you bring that kind of thinking over into your VA partnership, it will kill the relationship and leave you without the help that you need. Virtual Assistants are high level professionals who are business owners just like you. Think about your relationship with other service professionals. If you call in a plumber, you step aside and let him do his job, not stand over his shoulder and tell him what tools to use. VAs are service professionals with a high degree of professionalism, are experts at what they do, and are your equals.

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