Why I Work with a Virtual Assistant (6 Biz Owners Share)

We have a good number of posts on Horkey Handbook about working as a virtual assistant.

We even have a free course to get you started as a VA.

And for just a few short days, we also have an epic giveaway perfect for those looking to break into VA work – it literally has EVERYTHING you need to launch a new VA biz from scratch. Note: the content is now closed.

So we’ve decided to offer you another perspective this week, and ask business owners and solopreneurs why they chose to work with a virtual assistant, and what tasks do they outsource to their VA.

The answers were revealing and should be helpful when you write your next pitch to a potential client.

1. Katie Hornor, Speaker, Author and Founder of Como Blog

I knew that working with a VA doubled my time and the impact on my business. She can do what I am not good at, don’t like to do or that is a lower ROI but necessary part of the business, while I focus on higher ROI activities.

My VA (US based) currently handles one of my social media platforms entirely as well as the content management for one of my sites. I love that she has made the effort to get to know my business, know how I respond, what my preferences are/are not. Rarely does she have to ask what I would do/promote in a given situation.

I enjoy working with responsible, professional trustworthy VAs.

I am not as concerned about skill or resume as about character and teachable spirit. If you can follow instructions, keep your word, provide reports of progress whether they’re required or not and always deliver more than you promised, and keep in confidence the business details you may be privy to, that is an excellent VA and someone I want to work with.

Why I Work with a Virtual Assistant

2. Kenny Jahng, Founder and CEO of Big Click Syndicate

My VA is more of an “EA” as in an executive assistant.  She handles so much of my business.

Everything from booking meetings, travel arrangements, taking care of client and personal gift purchasing, negotiating services, project management and even client interaction on various projects where I’m not involved after the initial consultation and vision setting.

I love that she is a seamless part of my team.  

By using collaboration tools and technology (Slack, Dropbox, Google Docs, etc) I am able to offload so much of my daily and weekly routine to her so that I can focus on the aspects of the business where I’m valued most.

When I hire a VA, I’m looking for clear and sensible communication, but a VA must also be able to synthesize and triage things on the fly while keeping me in the loop.

They must be able to juggle between projects and tasks. I’m also looking for flexibility – things change so quickly, so I need someone who’s good with having to adapt to the speed of business, and someone with a good attitude and a good heart. We need to ensure business is fun and worth it to everyone involved.

3. Ellen Ercolini of Ellen Ercolini.com

I chose to work with a VA because there were too many small details falling off my plate.

I hired my VA to work with my clients to manage their journey working with me and to provide exceptional customer service. In addition to working with my clients, she helps manage my calendar, making sure I’m hitting my deadlines and staying on schedule.

It’s paramount to the success of my company that my clients feel like All-Stars, and having a dedicated team member ensures that happens.  

When I was hiring for my VA, I looked for someone who wanted to understand the entire scope of my business, where it is now and where I am looking to grow – and then tell me where I could stop doing things on my own and hand tasks off to her.  It’s been great, every six months or so we meet and she shares where I could be streamlining my workload more.

Because she works with a lot of other business owners, she’s got a keen eye for where I am being the bottleneck and how she can help me and my company grow.

4. Lauren Edvalson, CEO of Edvalson Marketing

I am the founder of a boutique digital marketing agency. I was not ready to hire a full-time employee, but I needed support on tasks like blogging for clients, light SEO work and social media.

The person I decided to contract with has been extremely valuable in freeing up my time from tasks that either took a long time to complete or easy tasks that were the least profitable for my company.

We began working together on a trial basis which has turned into an annual agreement.

I was looking for someone who could work quickly and didn’t need a lot of hand-holding. We have been working together for several months now and I have been able to give her more responsibility which has allowed me to take on more clients. So far it has been a great experience.

5. Chris Huntley, Founder of Huntley Wealth & Insurance Services

My business is online, so it only seemed natural to hire virtual assistants. The overhead of a formal office seemed like a pointless expense.

It also opened up the playing field in terms of talent. I am not limited by region and can pick out the best virtual assistants in North America. Currently we have two VAs working for us – one is from the US and the other one from Canada.

So far, my experience has been amazing. I delegate everything from website maintenance to marketing with full confidence that daily tasks will be completed accurately and on time.

I was looking for VAs with technical proficiency.  

Let’s face it – if you are going to have to redo a project yourself, there is no point in hiring someone. I always look for senior level staff that is more than familiar with the subject matter that I am looking to cover. This means paying a higher hourly wage – but in the long run this is much more cost-effective than having to micromanage someone who doesn’t have a handle on their job.

Trust is also fundamental.

When you run an online office, implicit trust is of the utmost importance. If you feel someone is not being upfront, do not keep them on board. It’s the easiest way to avoid conflict down the road. As a virtual employer, I am not overseeing each and every minute of my team’s day – it’s just not possible. When an employee proves they are trustworthy and loyal – this is the best way to make an impact on me as a boss.

6. Tiffany C. Wright, Business Blogger at The Resourceful CEO and Entrepreneur

I chose to work with a virtual assistant because I spent virtually all of my working career without a dedicated administrator or secretary, so I wouldn’t know what to do with a full-time, always present assistant. I always had to share someone or worked with an individual who had multiple roles.

I found a virtual assistant who fulfills the latter – someone who has multiple roles.

I wanted someone who had marketing acumen, who had strong customer service skills, who had strong writing skills, who could take directions well and who was highly motivated to work on his or her own.

I tried hiring college interns (for pay) in marketing and PR and I tried engaging with someone who would come in and work dedicated hours on a part-time basis. Both did not work well for me this time, although they have in the past.

What is interesting is that my current VA is a college student.

My virtual assistant does online research, makes and returns calls, sets up appointments, writes marketing copy, writes newsletters and informational emails, contacts associations for speaking opportunities, does general administrative work and so much more.

I provide her with clear direction and expectations, including providing samples.

She always asks for clarification when she needs it and will complete some of the work and ask me to check it to confirm she’s on the right path.

By offloading to my VA, I find myself rapidly slogging through all the “I need to follow-up” little things that are not priorities but that are necessary. My response time to clients is improving as a result.

When I was hiring my VA, I was looking for someone who was highly self-motivated and a good communicator. I need strong writing skills, speaking skills and some availability during general business hours (although much of what I need can be done in off hours).

In addition, I need really good online research skills. Finally, I look for someone who is very responsive and is good at follow-up and follow through.

Thank you for sharing why you chose to go the VA route, what it looks like in your business and how it has benefited you. What a great glimpse into the world of real client/VA relationships!

If you want to become a VA or are in the market to hire one, what aha moments did you have while reading through the above experiences?

15 thoughts on “Why I Work with a Virtual Assistant (6 Biz Owners Share)”

  1. I like how my full time job will allow me the flexibility to be available during “business hours” on some days. I also like how a lot of the business owners want more of an “assistant” rather than an employee; someone to work with them and not necessarily for them and to help them grow their business and make it better.

    • Absolutely, the VAs themselves are their own business owners, therefore their own bosses. Framing the conversation as working WITH rather than working FOR definitely feels more motivating.

  2. Pretty cool article!

    I always assumed Virtual Assistants don’t get paid much because there are so many people from third-world countries out there willing to do the work for pennies. But I guess it can be a good source of income too. I’ll definitely look into it.

    It makes sense, virtual assistants can solve so many problems and free up so much time for busy people. I’m surprised more people don’t use them!

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Business owners who are serious about their business know that it’s important to work with VAs who understand the local customs and know the local ways.

      While there are some very good VAs based in low-income countries, sometimes the hassle of working with someone not familiar with the way business is done locally can cost you more than what you’re saving.

  3. I love how many of them mentioned that they looked for someone that was teachable, had desire to help the owner grow the business, and the drive to go above and beyond to handle things that randomly came up or that they felt needed more attention. These are things that I thrive on. While my resume has a lot of admin experience, it’s doesn’t have the “wow” factor that I think these traits have. This was extremely helpful to me, as I am working on my “hire me” page for my blog. It’s awesome to hear from real biz owners that are actually looking for what I have to offer and not just judging me off of a few job summaries on my resume. I have so much more to offer than the bullet points listed on that page…..and now I have some ideas on how to market myself. Thank you for the insight!!!

    • You’re welcome, Nicole.

      I’ve met my share of people who were tech-savvy but didn’t have the best attitude. I say a positive attitude, openness, flexibility and a curious spirit are excellent qualities to have.

  4. I sure do appreciate this post. I have much to learn such as Google Docs, Slack, and Dropbox . I want to learn as much as I can so that I can become a VA. Thank you Gina and all the businesses here for taking the time for us.

    Blessings ~

    • Just learn as you go, Laura! There’s no theoretical learning when it comes to online tools. The best way to learn is to use them.

      Don’t let that prevent your from trying.

  5. Love this article! I’ve learned so much by moving from a large fortune 100 company to a small company working directly for a CEO. I feel like in a lot of ways leaving corporate America was the best thing I could have done for myself from a learning perspective even though on paper my corporate career and MBA are the “highlights”– great article, thank you for sharing!

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