NYC Professional Office Organizer | Virtual Organizer

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Utilizing a Virtual Assistant for Your NYC Business

Virtual AssistantIf you run a small or medium-sized business, do you often find your daily to-do list overwhelming? Are you spending valuable time on bookkeeping, computer maintenance, paper-shuffling and playing phone tag instead of building your business?

It might be time for an assistant. While the idea of hiring an assistant may seem like big step, there are options that allow you to bring help on-board in a way that’s affordable and manageable. Even if you work from a small or home-based office and can’t provide office space, a virtual assistant (VA) can help lighten your workload and allow you to focus on tasks that will help your business grow.

Virtual assistants have come a long way since the temp workers of the past. Today, those working in the field are often seasoned professionals with backgrounds in accounting, advertising, sales, marketing, customer service, management, IT and just about every other area you need to cover. They have been practicing in their fields for many years and may have moved out full-time roles as a result of down-sizing or are choosing a flexible career path in order to balance work with family or other interests.

Because VA’s typically work as independent contractors or through an agency, you don’t have to worry about employee paperwork or benefits, taxes and workers’ compensation. Most have their own office equipment and you can handle much of your communication by phone, email and video conferencing. In many cases, business owners work with a VA in another city, or even another country. Consider what type of arrangement will work best for you. Do you want to be able to sit down face-to-face periodically, or would you like for your VA to be able to participate in client meetings or events? Is time zone important for real-time communication between you and your VA, or your VA and clients?

According to Essie Escobedo, founder of Office Angels in Atlanta, Georgia, working with a virtual assistant addresses many of the issues that entrepreneurs face, “Launching a business is no small task and keeping it operating at a profit is an even greater challenge. Thus, flexibility in workforce is a key component for any entrepreneurial company. Utilizing contract and temporary professionals solves the staffing conundrum that plagues small businesses.  Businesses pay only for what they need, and the contractors value both the income and flexible schedule.”

Finding help for your to-do list not only takes a burden off your shoulders, it can actually help to strengthen your business as a whole. A VA can step in and tackle a task with little supervision or ramp-up time and often become trusted business advisors as they work with you and develop relationships with your customers.

You may find making the decision to outsource to be difficult. Most entrepreneurs are used to running their own ship, and giving up responsibility to someone else – even someone well-qualified – requires a great deal of trust. But when you consider the time and effort you spend on tasks that could be delegated to someone who can most likely do them more efficiently and less expensively than you can, the value of outsourcing becomes clear.

Essie suggests that you consider the following points as you prepare to and begin working with a VA:

Know Yourself

  • What is your work style?
  • What do you love to do?  Put off doing?
  • Is it hard to let go/delegate?

Know Your Business

  • Why would you want a virtual assistant?  To free up more time? To get more work done?
  • What makes your business unique?
  • Do you have internal procedures/processes/systems in place to enable your business to grow?

What should you use a virtual assistant for?

  • Bookkeeping/Paper Management
  • Marketing Support  (email/social media marketing, web & graphic design, blogging, newsletters/direct mail)
  • Sales Support (CRM set-up and maintenance, appointment setting, client follow up)
  • Office Admin (computer clean up/filing/form and template design/email)
  • Special Projects – travel plans, transcriptions, event planning, presentations
  • Research

How to choose a VA

  • Determine the skill set necessary to accomplish the task—one person may not be able to do it all.
  • Discuss pricing—by the hour, by the project,  on retainer
  • Get references
  • For on-going work, discuss working style and how best to communicate—schedule time for updates/progress reports

How to delegate

  • What are your expectations?  Define success.
  • Clearly define the tasks—a job description/scope of work
  • Agree upon the “how” things are going to get done; write down steps that you would take to accomplish the tasks; create a system.
  • Timeline – determine how much time the task should take.  Establish timeframe for completion of project.
  • Set up milestones to make sure the project is heading in the right direction.  Examine and regroup, but don’t jump into the mix (micro-manage)
  • Agree on what will be provided:  content/supplies

So if the to-list is daunting, carefully consider which tasks could be shifted to someone else’s list, and focus your energies on growing your business.

Guest author Terri Stephens is the founder and Chief Professional Organizer of Real Order Professional Organizing, LLC. Since 2003, she’s helped busy homeowners with their clutter and organizing needs in metro Atlanta and surrounding areas. Terri is also a Senior Move Manager and helps older adults and their families with later-life moves.

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