What’s a virtual assistant?

December 1, 2010
5 minutes read

Somewhere between “solo entrepreneur” and “managing an office full of staff,” your business will hit a point where you can no longer handle all the work yourself.

Enter the virtual assistant, or VA. I caught up with Sophie Zollmann, a Tennessee-based VA who’s been “helping entrepreneurs get out of overwhelm and back to doing what they love most” for 10 years.

Q. What are the most common tasks you do for your clients? Is that common for VAs?
A. The top 3 tasks I do for my clients are project management, email, calendar and social media management and website/blog management. These are common tasks for most VAs. Some VAs specialize in a particular area such as social media while others cover the VA task spectrum. I have a team of VAs working with me to be able to cover as many different tasks as may be needed by my clients and to help as many people as possible.

Q. Is there anything that really doesn’t work as a task to be outsourced to a VA?
A. In general, VAs can do almost anything a client can ask of them. Most VAs will have specific tasks they don’t do for various reasons and therefore don’t offer them. However, it doesn’t mean they cannot be done by another VA willing to do those particular tasks. That’s another way specialization comes into play for some VAs.

Q. What do people not understand about working with a VA?
VAs are your partner in business. They’re not just an assistant. They can help you in ways that a regular secretary cannot. One of the biggest advantages of hiring a VA is no overhead. We are independent contractors. You do not have to pay for office equipment, office space or benefits. We take care of all of that. By giving a VA the day-to-day tasks, the business owner can focus on the business itself. That means business growth and higher income potential. Plus, they can have more time for self-care, family and friends.

Q. When it comes to accounting or financial tasks, what do people most often look to VAs for? A. VAs can set up and maintain a company’s bookkeeping software. We can create reports within that software to help them better manage their money especially the outgoing cash flow part. We can pay their bills, balance their check book, send out invoices to their clients, receive payments, and update their accounts accordingly. We can also manage collections for clients who get behind on their payments. We can research purchases and services they may need to locate the best quality and price before they buy.

Q. What financial tasks do small business owners most overlook, that a VA could help with? A. Maintaining their books on a regular basis to keep them from a time-crunch situation at tax time each year.

Q. What about you? Do you outsource tasks for your own business?
Currently, I outsource the design and maintenance of my website. I also outsource any design changes I make to my Facebook pages as well as logo, business card and stationary design/updates. I have an accountant who handles taxes but I maintain my own books.

For more information about virtual assistants, or Sophie’s business offerings, visit SophieZo.com.

By Ash Christopher

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