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Posts Tagged ‘Outsourcing’

The Professional Virtual Assistant Versus the Wannabes

The ease of setting up a virtual assistant business has given rise to the proliferation of virtual assistants offering various services and trumpeting all sorts of claims to fame. So much so that it has become difficult to spot the professional, reliable and well-meaning virtual assistants from the cheap wannabes or copycats. This is because virtual assistants do not come with nametags on their breast pockets that declare their true identity. But the reality remains – there are those who are an asset to their clients and there are those who give the industry a bad name.

What distinguishes a professional virtual assistant?

Continuous Development Program
As in other industries, the professional virtual assistant continuously strives to improve his craft. He knows that his value to his clients depends on how good he is in what he does. So he keeps himself abreast of the various developments that take place in his industry. Since he is highly dependent on information technology and internet, he makes sure he is constantly updated in this fast-paced field. He also strives to learn more of the businesses of his clients so that he can be of more value to them. Moreover, he knows that with more and more virtual assistants coming in the horizon, competition becomes keener by the day. And only those who continue to grow in order to cope with the ever-increasing demand of the clients will survive.

Commitment to Excellence
To the professional virtual assistant, commitment to excellence is an obsession. He makes it a point to give his best in whatever he does even if “good enough” is acceptable to the client. He drives himself hard, does not cut corners and the word compromise does not exist in his vocabulary. When he affixes his name to his work, it is a stamp of quality. To him quality work is, by itself, a gratification.

Fair Play as a Way of Life
Fair play is the professional virtual assistant’s modus vivende. He makes sure he earns every cent his client pays and even looks for ways to give his clients that proverbial extra mile. He does not exploit the weakness of his client or takes advantage of his client’s missed opportunities. He is happy with his client’s success and is saddened with his client’s setbacks. He takes pride in being able to help his clients. In other words, he empathizes with his client. To him, the golden rule is very much a valid principle to conduct his business by.

His relationship with his virtual workers is also founded on fair play. He provides them opportunities for professional growth and he pays them commensurately. He appreciates a good job and he does not hesitate to give a constructive feedback, when needed. He treats his virtual workers as extensions of himself.

Trust is a Treasure
The professional virtual assistant treasures his client’s trust. He ensures confidentiality of matters that are given in confidence even if it means saying no to other clients. His word is an oath and when he gives it, he stands and falls with it. When commitments are made, he makes sure they are delivered on time.

Loyalty is Premium
To the professional virtual assistant, business deals that build lasting relationship are more important than short-term profit maximization. He chooses his clients and strives to keep them. He does not mind giving concessions for repeat deals to cultivate client loyalty. He maintains regular communication with his clients being extra careful not to waste their time. A happy client is his business’ reason for being.

Clients as Partners
To a professional virtual assistant, every client is a business partner. An outsourced task is just a step towards a series of mutually beneficial deals. An outsourced task is an opening to know more about the client’s business and what role he can play to help it grow. Every outsourced task is an opportunity for a professional virtual assistant to serve a business partner, an opportunity to cultivate a business relationship into a virtual partnership.

In conclusion, being a professional in any field is never easy. It requires self-discipline of the highest order and an unwavering commitment to the achievement of a goal. It requires a clear definition of what is important and an equally clear understanding of what has to be done. This is very much the same with the virtual assistant business. There is always the temptation to follow the path of least resistance or to do what is convenient but the hallmark of a true professional virtual assistant is in being able to stay the course simply because it is the right thing to do.

Creative & Innovative Collaboration – Virtual Assistance

Modern-day businesses have evolved from the traditional models into a more dynamic one that spans global borders and transcends traditional practices. As businesses expand their territory and their market, various challenges are met and traditional solutions just won’t do. The more creative and innovative businesses are, the more dynamic their growth becomes and their potential for expansion extrapolates exponentially!

There is one rising industry that capitalizes on creative and innovative collaboration in terms of providing solutions to the needs of the modern-day businesses – Virtual Assistance. Virtual Assistance necessitates the practice of creativity and innovation on both sides of the working relationship.

Innovative businesses naturally gravitate towards the engagement of the services of virtual assistants (VAs) as a creative way of managing its limited resources yet at the same time addressing its needs. Some businesses do not see the need to retain on a long-term basis a professional whose skills are needed on a seasonal basis. They therefore opt to outsource this resource only as the need arises. This business savings may then be redirected to other areas that may be more important for either the maintenance or the expansion of the business.

In other cases, a business needs several people with a variety of skills who may not necessarily live in the same area. If the business will insist on hiring employees who have these various skills, it may take a while to assemble a local team, and much longer for them to establish a good collaborative unit. There will always be that loner who just wants to do it all “his” style, or the one who has such a domineering and ambitious presence, it stifles creative collaboration. It’s much easier to contract people who are used to collaborating with others.

Big projects may sometimes necessitate the collaborative work of various personnel from different areas. The time zone differences alone already call for a creative collaboration so that the tasks can be completed with minimum time-wastage.

Internet and advances in technology have broadened the opportunities for businesses to have access to skilled professionals from all over the world at lesser cost and faster returns. Some cultures are more at home with certain functions and provide better service than local resources. A wise business move would be to consider this reality.

The relationship between the client and the VA is also characterized by collaboration. For this partnership to prosper, the VA must be a creative and innovative professional. He is trying to support a business across great distances yet he must make sure that he produces the desired output. There is already a risk of miscommunication and dissatisfaction in face-to-face dealings between co-workers so the VA must be more alert and thorough to avoid such a problem in this remote partnership. Creativity and innovation comes into play in ensuring that the client does not suffer because of the lack of the VAs personal presence in his office.

VAs have the responsibility of updating themselves on technological advances in the internet especially if it will help them speed up their service to their clientele. This means keeping abreast of innovations in research and file-sharing, online communication and collaboration, and new software that will help in the client’s business.

Of course, with the millions of data available in the internet, creativity is also a key factor in a VA’s delivery of service. There is that push to be as creative as possible in order to distinguish oneself from the rest. Sometimes, the client is also technologically-savvy but would like something totally different – thereby, the VA must be inventive and able to capitalize on the current market trends yet does not rely on just copying what others are doing. Otherwise, the client himself can just do that.

In some instances when a VA is even asked to deal with the client’s personal matters, it often helps to be creative and innovative. If the VA has a good knowledge of what the client is looking for and it so happens that it’s not readily accessible, the VA must be able to look for alternative solutions that will meet the criteria of the client. Take the case of Tim Ferriss who wrote the much acclaimed book, “The 4-Hour Workweek.”

Tim had begun using VAs in order to administer much of his business tasks whenever possible so that he would be freer to travel and enjoy living the life that he wanted. He decided to check out if he could also use virtual assistance for some personal matters. At one point, he asked his VA to look for a “Tickle-Me-Elmo” doll which was not available in stores near him. It was going to be a gift for his child. When the VA couldn’t find the exact doll, the VA made a judgment call and recommended instead the “Chicken-Dance-Elmo” which Tim approved.

Clients don’t want to hear that it can’t be done. VAs would be of better service if they can provide alternative solutions when the desired output cannot be met. Thus, it’s a must that VAs cultivate creativity and innovation.

http://createownwebsite.vatrainingonline.com – Website for VAs

Okay, here’s a website that is really dedicated to Providing Sources of Relevant & Quality Online Information for Virtual Assistants.  Check out out http://createownwebsite.vatrainingonline.com. Here, Virtual Assistants will learn how to create their own website and learn other stuff that we, VAs ought to know.

If you operate a business online, you need a website. Not to have one is Business Suicide! Here we provide Virtual Assistants and Online Freelancers the tools & knowledge required to create a remarkable website. If you are still struggling to get and maintain Clients, then http://createownwebsite.vatrainingonline.com is the right place. Everything the site teaches is geared towards attracting Clients. No  HTML. No geek speak.

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The Best Webhost for Virtual Assistants

Successful Virtual Assistants know the value of having your own website. But choosing the best webhost, one that addresses a Virtual Assistant’s specific needs, can still be an overwhelming task. With our years of testing, using & researching different webhosts, we’ve come to the same conclusion that most other online entrepreneurs have.

What Virtual Assistants Need from a Webhost

As a Virtual Assistant you understand the critical role you own website plays on the success of your virtual assistance business…

Read more at http://createownwebsite.vatrainingonline.com/the-best-webhost-for-virtual-assistants

You Too Can Be A Virtual Assistant!

If you are looking for a business that can be run from home, financially rewarding and intellectually gratifying, try setting up a Virtual Office and becoming a Virtual Assistant. It is estimated that there are between 5,000 to 35,000 virtual assistants all over the world and the number is growing fast. Retrenched employees who were forced by the current economic downturn to set up their own business welcome the opportunity that virtual assistants offer. They also welcome the help that virtual assistants provide in running their business. Aside from giving them enormous savings in overhead expense and personnel cost, virtual assistants provide these entrepreneurs a jumpstart in their business by tapping the instant expertise that their pool of virtual workers provides.

It does not take much to set up a virtual office. A personal computer with the latest applications and a good internet connection can already launch you into business. Of course you also need a decent website to announce your presence in the market. A good business plan and well thought out marketing campaigns should be able to bring you your initial clients. Don’t hesitate to tap the services of a virtual assistant at the early stage of your business.

You do not need to be an expert in every field that your client will need services in because you can tap virtual workers. These are professionals and experts, both retired and actively employed, who are just too glad to contribute their expertise, for a fee of course.They work on a contractual basis and a long-lasting professional relationship is normal. Typically 5 years of administrative experience in such areas as executive assistant, office manager/supervisor, secretary, legal assistant, paralegal, legal secretary, real estate assistant, etc. is already adequate to meaningfully contribute to a virtual office.

You should cultivate a healthy relationship with these virtual workers because in a larger sense they are your business partners. As your business grows, their roles will become crucial. You will need a team of trusted virtual workers to entrust work overflow to. The standards of a good virtual assistant are not that easy to meet if his final products are to be acceptable to his international clients. Establishing a virtual network of quality workers is likewise not an easy task. Managing professionals and experts is never a straightforward formula. Any work overflow that you outsource from them must bear the same care and quality as your own if you want to keep your existing clients. A perceived deterioration in quality is the easiest way to lose them to your competitors.

Virtual offices create an enormous amount of personal freedom, independence and gratification for its owner and his virtual workers. The dedication and commitment that virtual workers demonstrate testify to the satisfaction derived from a home office setting. And sometimes, virtual workers look up to the virtual office for that job satisfaction that their job fails to provide simply because they are not given the opportunity to do what they want to do.

To gain and retain clients, you need to maintain your professionalism in all of your dealings with them. If it has been a leap of faith for you to give up the security of a monthly salary, it is as much a leap of faith for the business owners to embrace this new concept of outsourcing tasks to a team of virtual workers who they may not even see face-to-face. A great amount of trust is needed in this relationship and your professionalism in correspondence and phone calls will go a long way in securing their trust.

You will also have to pay meticulous attention to the accuracy of the final product that you submit to your clients even if it is produced by your best virtual worker. Meet all your deadlines, and know at least two days ahead of time if you are not going to be able to meet them. Communicate that to your client before the project is late. When something goes wrong, honesty rather than cover up is still the best policy. Keep in touch daily from the beginning to the end of all projects with brief status reports ever careful not to waste your clients’ time.

If setting up a virtual office looks daunting to you, you can start out as a virtual worker until you are able to grasp the intricacies of a virtual assistant business. Then you can go into it yourself, more confidently this time. Outsourcing as a business option is here to stay.

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Why Outsource

Outsourcing or availing yourself of the services of a virtual assistant or a person or a team that is not part of your business organization is a relatively new concept. If you are still wondering about the wisdom of outsourcing, this article will try to put to light the various considerations why some people outsource.

Outsourcing is economical in the long run, if not the in short run. By outsourcing, you free yourself from the financial obligation of paying for the overhead and manpower costs. You just pay the fees based on certain agreed upon measures, e.g., every hour expended in the project, number of pages of finished product, or an agreed upon amount for the whole project or a percentage of the cost of the project. If you rented an additional office space, bought the required office equipment and hired the needed employees to complete a project, you would still have to pay the cost even after the project had been completed. By outsourcing the project, your expenses end with the payment of the outsourcing fee.

But what if there is an excess office space, office equipment that is readily available for the project and employees with spare time? Will outsourcing remain a viable option? Maybe not as much but this is where the other considerations will have to enter the analysis. Do the employees have the necessary skills or expertise to efficiently perform the tasks? If not then outsourcing may be evaluated vis-à-vis training the employees expending both time and money. What would be the repercussions of a less than acceptable finished product due to lack of expertise by the employee who performed the task? Will it result in losing a significant account or will it just require rework and additional expenses?

Outsourcing frees you from paying the costs of fringe benefits that a full-time employee is entitled to like life and health insurance, retirement plans, vacations, etc. While the expenses may be affordable on a year-to-year basis, in the long haul, after the completion of the project, they continue to remain in the books and the amount can be significant. If you are operating in a country where labor laws make it difficult, if not impossible, to terminate an employee whose services are no longer needed, then the cost of settlement should be factored in. Outsourcing, then, becomes a highly preferred option.

Outsourcing enables you to instantly tap the expertise of people you do not have in your business organization. Such expertise may require a considerable amount of time and money to develop in-house, a luxury you may not have during the project period. The cost of developing an employee is not confined to the training expenses alone. After the employee has completed the training and has acquired the needed skills, his compensation has to be commensurately adjusted to correspond to his enhanced marketability. Otherwise, he might be tempted to leave you for other companies that are willing to pay the perceived just price. Even if there is a stiff penalty for transferring within a specified period from the completion of training, if the other company is willing to pay the penalty, you may still lose your newly developed employee. Outsourcing saves you from this seemingly no-win situation.

Outsourcing enables you to accept tasks or projects even if you still do not have the corporate infrastructures to perform them. Virtual assistants multiply your capability and put you in a position to accept bigger responsibilities even if your organization is still very young. This enables you to effectively compete with more mature business organizations even before you have developed your in-house resources. In effect outsourcing accelerates your corporate growth.

Finally, outsourcing allows you to focus more on the utilization of your core competencies. By hiring a virtual assistant to do the extraneous activities, you and your team can focus on the activities that you do best–taking care of your clients. In effect outsourcing makes you more effective.

The present global economic crisis has created a tremendous pressure on any management to develop and implement strategies that call for a no-nonsense financial discipline and lean and efficient corporate organization. If a task can be done in a more efficient way, then there is no justification in doing it in any other way. Modern technology in communications has opened possibilities of doing things in a manner never imagined before. Twenty years ago, it would be inconceivable for a call from a client in the US to be handled in the Philippines.

Moreover, unwanted organizational fats should have no place is such strategies. Hiring full-time employees to perform tasks in a short-duration project should not even be considered. Outsourcing should be a part of such strategies. The battle cry might as well be“Outsource or Die”.