A common phrase heard among entrepreneurs is “working in the business” versus “working on the business.” The former is focused on the operational details of running the business daily, while the latter is pulling the lens back and thinking longer-term and strategically about the company’s future.
What steps can you take to alleviate the administrative burden and how can you free up precious time so you can actually think about growing your business?
Lynnette M. Rogers, Owner, Detroit-based Virtually Yours (VY), LLC (www.virtuallyyoursusa.com) can help.
VY provides clerical assistance to small business owners/entrepreneurs by specializing in taking care of daily business administration needs so business owners to focus on building their business.
Rogers, a best-selling co-author, public speaker and trainer and founder of a non-profit organization, Saving Our Youth (SOY) where she mentors high school students, shares her perspective on how VA’s can assist your business so you can focus on growth.
LEE: You worked in corporate and decided to become an entrepreneur. Why?
Rogers: I’ve always had a strong desire to be an entrepreneur, as my grandparents were business owners and planted that seed early on, however, after graduating from school, I landed “good” jobs in the automotive industry and nestled myself in a very comfy corporate position. I made good money and as a single mother I was able to take care of my children financially which provided a huge sense of security for me. At the same time, I found it extremely challenging to parent my children properly being that I worked many long hours and didn’t have much flexibility in my position, therefore, my children became the “typical latch-key” kids.
During the economic downturn in 2009, I got that dreaded tap on my shoulder informing me that I was being laid off. I remember on my last day at General Motors the feeling I had inside of me of hurt, disappointment and fear. I also had a dream and burning desire to work for myself which was fueled even stronger after that experience. I didn’t like my livelihood being controlled by someone else and not having flexibility to care for my children. I remember getting a phone call about a job fair at the Quality Inn in Troy and I got dressed and had several resumes to pass out, but when I got there I couldn’t pass out one resume. I remember that I made the decision to become an entrepreneur that moment at that job fair. I was ready to step out on faith and start my own virtual assistance business. I realized that I could provide the same services that some of those job seekers were in need of from the comfort of my own home and set out on a mission to start my business.
Lee: What exactly is a virtual assistant (VA) and how did you come up with the idea of becoming one?
Rogers: A Virtual Assistant (VA) is a self-employed administrative or personal assistant who works remotely (usually at home) for various clients. When most people hear “virtual assistant,” they assume it’s a secretary who works from home. People can hire a VA to work for only the hours or tasks needed, for certain projects, or they can be retained to accommodate those who need more dedicated hours/time for certain tasks. I came up with the idea to become a VA because I realized that many small business owners and entrepreneurs need assistance, but are also looking for ways to lower their overhead. By hiring a VA the business owner does not have to pay for the same benefits it would have to, had the assistant been a full-time employee.
Lee: What types of services do you offer clients?
Rogers: Our services range from clerical tasks, word processing, data entry, and calendar management/ scheduling to event and project planning, social media management, and customer service. These are just a few of the many services we offer. We also train other individuals who are interested in starting a VA business. We don’t hire but promote entrepreneurship and want others to benefit from being a virtual business owner.
Lee: Who’s your target audience and why do they use a VA?
Rogers: My target audience is any solo-preneur (sole-proprietors), entrepreneurs or small business owner in need of clerical assistance and/or law firm in need of legal assistance, along with those in need of event planning services and/or day of event management. Also coaches, speakers and/or authors who are looking to increase brand awareness, promote brand credibility and build brand authority in your niches.
Lee: As an entrepreneur, why should I use a VA and how does it benefit my business?
Rogers: Technology allows for us to easily execute administrative tasks using the internet, the cloud, email, faxes, etc more efficiently and safely. VA’s can help you reduce your labor costs, work around your schedule to provide you service whenever you need it and are independent contractors which means you don’t need to even think about payroll, sick days, worker’s compensation and employee benefits et.al. Think of them as your ‘on-call’ go to person. With a virtual assistant you only pay for time spent on your project and work can be done outside normal business hours.
Bottom line, a skilled virtual assistant is your collaborative partner to take on all those administrative tasks that distract you from your job of growing and running your business.
Lee: What makes your company different from other VA’s?
Rogers: I think what makes my company different is the passion I have for personal development and success. Not only my success but I am passionate about the success of my clients and their business. My mission is to provide professional, confidential and personal service to suit you and your company’s specific requirements, doing what I can to help my clients succeed. With constant personal development and training, I stay on top of the latest technology so that I can be more efficient with the services provided. Also, I have over 20 years of experience as an Executive Administrative Assistant and a Legal Assistant I have extensive knowledge and qualifications in Personnel, Business Administration, and Customer Services and am eager to support and help entrepreneurs and business owners take their business to the next level.
Lee: From a pricing perspective, what’s your model? Project-based? Fee? Hybrid?
Rogers: Affordable pricing ranges from hourly rates, monthly retainer, or project-based.
Lee: What advice would you give to aspiring business owners and what are your keys to success?
Rogers: Advice I would give to aspiring business owners is to commit to personal development and to be a life-long learner. The only thing that’s constant is change and as things change, the quicker you can adapt to change the better. I found that when I first started as a VA the whole concept was foreign to business owners and they were afraid of change. Technology is advancing each and every day and we are able to streamline many things via the internet and from our phones and market shifts happen whether we want them to or not, so we either participate willingly or unwillingly but either way, you are going to participate…example: when was the last time you saw a payphone?
Also, step outside your comfort zone. As a business owner, when I first started I was absolutely afraid of public speaking and my business suffered tremendously. I had to step outside my comfort zone and when I made the decision and commitment to do that, I started to grow and expand.
Lynnette M. Rogers