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.
Sometimes a client will ask me to do something, and then he’ll say “I know it’s not much,” or “it’s really boring stuff to do – I’m sorry.” And my reply is “no problem.” Because really, it’s not.
Over the course of years I’ve been working, I’ve always been amazed when I come across people who have a list of what they will and will not do at a job. I’m not talking about what they can and cannot do. If you ask me to do sales calls, I’ll tell you no – not because I won’t do it, but because I can’t – I’m horrible at it and you’d be better off burning your money than paying me to do it. I’m talking about people who refuse to do work because they feel it is beneath them in some way.
Once I was working on several projects with my manager. One project was tied to reams of legal paperwork. I was busy with something else at the time, so my manager gave a task to a co-worker to do for this legal project. She needed stacks of documents three-hole punched, put into binders and divided appropriately based upon document numbering. Now, I’ll admit, it wasn’t the most exciting job in the world to do, but it was critically important to the project because these binders were needed by the legal department to proceed with their filings and such.
A day or so into it, this co-worker stopped by my desk and began to complain about what an awful task it was, and she shouldn’t be doing it because she had a Masters degree. I let her rant, and let her walk away. The next week my manager came up to me and asked if I would work on the binders. The co-worker had set in the paperwork backward, upside-down, and labeled everything incorrectly. (She no longer had a job as of that week.)
Whatever the job you do, shouldn’t you do it well? Isn’t it a reflection of your work ethic and the type of person you are? Who cares if you have fifteen degrees and speak 24 languages? If your boss asks you to make a copy – make a copy…highlight those documents…refill the toner! My husband and I laugh sometimes because we believe that if someone paid us $100/hr to staple paper together, we wouldn’t be complaining! Everything is important to getting the job done. Data entry, research, management, printing, emails, invoices…bringing in the occasional box of doughnuts!
Bring me your boring, dull, have-to-get done tasks and I’ll do them with a smile!
“If you are called to be a street sweeper, sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, 'Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
25+ years of business experience. 12+ years of virtual experience.