A "Cyber" Staffing Solution for Small BusinessesBy: Christina Morfeld
Consultants, entrepreneurs, and other independent professionals often find themselves performing a juggling act: providing their products and services while also carrying out tasks related to marketing, customer service, and day-to-day operations. As important as these activities are to business survival, they don't directly contribute to the bottom line and, more importantly, they divert attention away from those that do.
While that can be said for a company of any size, small office/home office businesses (SOHOs) typically have fewer options than larger firms for addressing these concerns. A SOHO's needs are likely to be varied and ongoing, but traditional temps and contractors are usually best-suited for assignments of limited scope and duration. Additionally, workload fluctuations might prohibit the hiring of a permanent employee, even on a part-time basis, and many SOHOs don't have the space or equipment to accommodate on-site workers.
Fortunately, advancements in technology have spawned a new industry, called "Virtual Assistance," that provides SOHOs with the relief that they need.
Virtual Assistants (VAs) are experienced office professionals who provide administrative and other support services remotely. Because these activities can be handled effectively via telephone, fax, email, and the Internet, physical location is irrelevant. A skilled VA can benefit your business whether he or she lives across the street or across the globe.
Typical VA tasks include word processing, database management, customer contact and follow-up, bookkeeping, and event and travel planning.
While most VAs are generalists, some provide niche services as well. Bonnie Jo Davis, for example, also designs and manages websites, handles search engine submissions, and contributes articles to online directories and databases. In other words, she uses her advanced Internet skills to create and sustain a powerful Web presence for Davis Virtual Assistance clients who desire it.
VAs with limited time or creative abilities often partner with other companies (such as mine, Affinity Business Communications) that specialize in writing, graphic design, or other services outside their own area of expertise. These affiliations offer the convenience of "one-stop shopping" and strengthen the value that both firms provide to their clients.
VAs typically charge between $30 and $75 per hour. While this may seem costly at first, remember that - as independent contractors - they do not generate expenses related to payroll, benefits, equipment and supplies, downtime, and, in most cases, training. Rather, VAs are highly-skilled business professionals who (a) have fully-equipped home offices, (b) are ready to "hit the ground running," (c) only get paid for time worked, and (d) enable you to focus your energies on the income-generating activities that you enjoy.
Delegating administrative details is only one of the many rewards of aligning yourself with a VA. VAs strives for long-term, collaborative, and goal-oriented partnerships with their clients and work closely with them to grow and manage their businesses. As entrepreneurs themselves, they understand the unique needs and challenges of SOHOs.
Bottom line: A talented and enterprising VA recognizes that he or she has a vested interest in your success. Working within the context of that strategic relationship, he or she is always mindful of the "big picture" and committed to outstanding results!
© Copyright 2002 Christina Morfeld and Affinity Business Communications, LLC. All rights reserved.
The author assumes full responsibility for the contents of this article and retains all of its property rights. ManagerWise publishes it here with the permission of the author. ManagerWise assumes no responsibility for the article's contents.
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