How Virtual Assistants and the Cloud Made Me a Better Business Person

It’s a tough choice to hire a cloud-based employee over someone who comes into work every day, ready to serve your every beck and call. Perhaps with a cup of Starbucks in hand just for the boss!

If anything, the idea of a remote employee that you’ll never really see, other than perhaps on Skype, really defies the traditional office-based business model.

And then enter the cloud in the mix. Cloud computing technology has changed the way we do business. It’s easy to assume that there will be some connections between remote working and the cloud.

Cloud in the workplace - infographic by Backupify

Source: http://blog.backupify.com/2014/08/05/cloud-changed-way-work-infographic/

My Back Story

I too, was skeptical when it came time to hire the first administrative assistant for my fledgling SEO consulting firm. Work was flowing in faster than I could handle it and I just didn’t have time for the day-to-day stuff. I was drowning in a sea of emails, my schedule was backed up and clients were backing out of contracts because I was missing appointments and not answering requests fast enough.

I just couldn’t cram 24 hours of work into a 16 hour work day. I was dead tired, frustrated, and my clients could see it on my face during my in-person consults and online conferences. You see, when you’re working in the service industry, you have to be on the ball all the time. Being obviously tired and passionless isn’t a trait that inspires confidence in people who need someone to scrutinize their online presence and tell them EVERYTHING that they’re doing wrong.

Cloud-based tools and services help. A lot. But even with the adoption of such technology, my work is not getting simpler. Although I have more time – thanks to the cloud tech advances, I add more complexity in my work life: Setting up data backup in the cloud. Cloud data security breach. The cloud outage. Sigh. So much for the “ultimate” solution for business.

Time to Change or Quit

I had no choice. I needed to hire someone to organize my business for me or their wouldn’t be any business left by the third quarter of 2013 (this was in April 2013 by the way). Hiring someone to come to my home-based business office was a possibility; my office was set up in the garage and had everything an employee would need to get their work done.

However, the costs associated with hiring someone just wasn’t in the budget. Salary, insurance, benefits, etc. Indeed, the cloud is affordable, but employees aren’t.

Since I didn’t have time to waste on creating job descriptions and completing online interviews with candidates, I decided to go with a Virtual Assistant service and was lucky enough to find a reputable company called 24/7 Virtual Assistant. They interviewed me to assess the type of skill-set I needed in an administrator, then lined up a few different qualified candidates that I could have a chat with and feel out a bit, before deciding who would end up working with me.

Working with VA - infographic by Chris Drucker

Source: http://www.chrisducker.com/va-infographic/

Now I’ll Never Go Back!

Shelly, my VA quickly took over almost every single job in my business that I dreaded every day, freeing me up to do what I do best: SEO consulting!

When you have to spend all day reading and responding to emails; entering data into spreadsheets and databases; maintaining a company website; fielding phone calls; and dealing with simple customer service issues that almost anyone can do – there’s no time for the important things that only I, as the business owner can do, such as finding and selling services to prospects, negotiating contracts for clients with varying needs, and giving service quotes that come in through the website and social media channels.

Shelly takes care of all the little, yet still important stuff, so I can focus on growing my business. My business grew so much by 2014 that I had to hire on two more VA’s to help Shelly with the workload, as well as a virtual bookkeeper to keep Uncle Sam happy.

I plan on building my SEO consulting firm using only virtual employees and encourage anyone else to do the same. If they’re looking to maximize profits that could otherwise be eaten up by the overhead involved in hiring office-based employees.\ 

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