Hello. My Name is Andrea. And I am Different.
My husband tells me I’m not a woman. I’m Andrea. Because I don’t like to go shoe shopping, and I get angry if he spends too much money on a gift, and during the Fall and Winter you’ll find me glued to every football game I can find on TV. (Go Bears!)
So, I’m not the conventional woman. And as I begin to learn more about the VA world and talk with other VAs, I’m beginning to find out I’m not the conventional virtual assistant.
The US National Average median salary for an Administrative Assistant II at this time is $40,976 (www.salary.com). That’s about $19.70/hr for an FTE. For an in-house assistant. To be there daily, 9 to 5, to be 100% dedicated to you and your business.
In 2007, VANetworking did a survey of VAs and found that 80% of virtual assistants had an hourly rate that was more than the FTE Admin.
(I want to add a disclaimer here. I’m not talking about people who have a lot of knowledge and skill in highly prized and/or technical areas. (Design, Accounting, etc.) I’m talking your standard admin – data entry, responding to emails, internet research – that sort of thing. Highly skilled specialized workers deserve the money they make.)
I am very surprised to hear what some VAs charge. I'm even more surprised when I hear that businesses will pay these fees, because I think they could go to a local temp agency and get someone to be an in-house assistant for less, dedicated totally to them. Most VAs have multiple clients, so you're not getting 100% dedication. Why are you paying for it then?
I charge “too little” according to the pay scales in the VA world. If I went back to corporate life, I’d easily jump into a tidy salary, especially in project management. But I feel that my clients provide me with a benefits package better than any business I’d have to drive an hour to get to.
Yes, you my clients (and hopefully soon-to-be clients, too) pay me benefits along with the dollars. You allow me to not spend two hours a day in the car in traffic, yelling at people. You allow me to work in my jammies. You give me time to run to the store or have lunch with my mom. You let me volunteer at my son’s school. You let me sleep in when I want, and are just as happy to have me working late at night when I feel like it.
These are huge benefits to me and I consider them as part of the package that goes into my billing rate. I hope it’s a win-win situation. You get an extremely experienced assistant and I get to live a pretty satisfied life.
…but, if you’d like to pay me $50/hr, let’s talk.
Recently, and quite unfortunately, we discovered a mouse problem in our house. You know – you see the “signs” of a mouse. So, we set out a trap, and the next day, Mr. Mouse was on his way to mouse heaven.
Then we saw more signs, and set out more traps. One morning I walked into the kitchen to see a little brown fluff peering out from beneath my stove. At this point I started to get angry. Not only because I had a nasty rodent in my house, but because, no more than 15 feet away, my two cats were sitting. Hello, cats? Isn’t this your job? Of course it was, but they didn’t know because they really hadn’t been introduced to Mouse #2 yet.
I picked up Othello (who is our best hope for mousing issues because he loves to catch and eat bugs!) and pointed him in the proper direction. As soon as he caught one glimpse of the mouse, he ran, pounced, and had a plump little mouse in his mouth. Hooray!
Since finding that mouse, Othello has changed. He patrols the kitchen like clockwork, scanning the floor, smelling all the corners – he’s looking for signs of a problem. In the meantime, I work on the bigger picture – looking for holes, scanning the basement and foaming/caulking as necessary, cleaning and organizing.
A tiny mouse showed up by the fireplace. Othello was on it. And now he patrols the fireplace and living room with as much vigor as the kitchen.
So, why am I telling you the sordid details of mousing in my household? Because this mouse problem isn’t any different from any other problem that comes up in your life. And when it comes up, you have to know how to handle it. And when you have a series of problems, sometimes you just can’t handle all of it at the same time. That’s when you need help. And that’s what having a virtual assistant is all about.
Little problems pop up, little inconveniences that you need to take care of but can’t get to, because you’re working on the big picture. Hiring a virtual assistant for the small tasks is a great way to keep you forward-focused because you don’t have to worry about missing an issue that pops up. Your VA is there to back you up and take care of things.
Everyone needs a virtual assistant. Even me. And here he is.
Some employers can work with a VA, and some need traditional help. Which is best for you?
This may seem to be a foolish blog to write. After all, I want your business. But honestly, I only want your business if you need me. I can help you if you need me. I can’t help you if you only think you need me.
Working with a virtual assistant is very different from working with someone in the office. In the office you can walk up to the person and chat. You can look over her should onto her screen and discuss things. You can leave her sticky notes with information all over her desk. You can see her functioning, so you believe that things are working. And when you see she’s winding down, you give her more work.
With a virtual assistant, you give your list of tasks to a computer screen via email or chat. And then a few hours or a few days later all of the work is done and you have your deliverables uploaded or in your email. You don’t know how it got done or where, but it’s done and you can move forward with what you need to do.
You, the employee, need to determine what kind of person you are. Do you need to have visual confirmation of an
assistant? Does it make you feel better to be able to see someone at a computer, at a desk, on a phone? Do you need to micromanage?
If any of these apply to you, you should probably work with a traditional assistant. When you hire a VA, you send
her work and put it out of your mind until the deadline appears. Of course you can check in and see how things are going, but for the most part, you know she’s independently working and you can work on your own tasks. When she’s done, she will wait for you to give her more work.
Virtual Assistants are task driven. Once the task is done, we cannot busy ourselves filling the copier with paper and cleaning up the break room to pass the time until the next round of work happens. We have to wait until you supply us with another task.
We would love to be able to help your business, but make sure choosing us is the best thing for you, because in the long run, it will benefit us both.
25+ years of business experience. 12+ years of virtual experience.