People like Dan Sanfford, a proposal consultant, who travels around the world to assist other companies can't take care of all of the marketing and emails for his business on top of making the travel arrangements to begin with. On top of all the other daily tasks a business must have to run smooth and efficiently what is a one man business to do?
Hire a personal assistant… virtually!
Below are a few stories and details from several different virtual assistants and their employers to show you why this might be the right avenue for you:
“The industry is definitely on a growth trend,” said Christine Durst of Woodstock, Conn., co-founder of Staffcentrix. “We're seeing an increasing number of members coming on every day.”This new breed of virtual worker should not be confused with temporary workers or telecommuters. Virtual assistants are entrepreneurs in their own right who develop long-term relationships with their clients, said Terri Romine of Granada Hills, Calif., president of the International Virtual Assistants Association.
Virtual assistants are responsible for paying their own business expenses, such as health benefits, insurance and office space like a small business. So clients don't have to worry about overhead costs.
On average, virtual assistants charge $25 to $30 per hour for general administrative support services, with a range of $10 to $75 based on experience, according to Staffcentrix's recent membership survey. There is a higher fee for specialty services, such as $48 per hour for interpretation and $72 per hour for computer programming.
“You get to have a very specialized person working for you and you don't have to provide the employer-type benefits,” Romine said. “You have a person who is partnering with you who is truly interested in your success. If you're not successful, the virtual assistant will not have a client.”
The International Virtual Assistants Association, which was founded with 65 members in 1999, has grown to 268 members in Australia, Canada, Germany, India, Italy and United Kingdom.
Today, about 84 percent of virtual assistants work in the United States, according to Staffcentrix. The profession is particularly appealing to working parents at home and military spouses, Durst said.
Cheryl Allin, 33, of Tacoma, is among those working parents. She started her own virtual assistant business, Virtuallin, in July because it seemed the perfect way to use her experience in Internet businesses and be available for her four children.
“I was looking for something that I could do from home and take care of my children,” she said. “I didn't want to do sales. I love making people happy and finding solutions they may not have thought about.”
Allin signed up her first client six weeks after she opened. Today, she works 30 hours a week for clients, yet enjoys playing and sharing meals with her kids:
Although most virtual assistants are women, an increasing number of men are entering the profession, Durst said. “The stigma is gone and more men are hopping on.”
Neal Lekwa of Mercer Island, owner and operator of Calbert Group, hires multiple virtual assistants to avoid the “agony” of running a traditional office. The virtual company, which employs several contractors and virtual assistants scattered between Maine and India, provides e-commerce, Web sites, multimedia products and other services to companies, especially in the lodging and airlines industries.
There are so many benefits of hiring a virtual assistant like not having to provide an actual office when you are always on the go or easily being able to track and pay out for the work that is actually being done. With these types of assistants specializing in almost every avenue it is easy to see why hiring one or becoming one is so enticing.
Think about some hobbies or skills that you have that would make you a perfect candidate to become a virtual assistant. Now you just have to take the next step and apply.
Can you help anyone thinking about getting involved by sharing any experiences you have had, either as a virtual assistant or from hiring one in the past?