3 Quick Steps for Training your Virtual Assistant

Training your Virtual Assistants is an integral part of the hiring process.  Although they are highly skilled, do not expect them to know how you want the job done.  After signing them up, it is necessary for you to orient them with your work methods and system.  This will avoid missteps and miscommunication.

Skipping training in order to save time can adversely affect the performance of your Virtual Assistants.  Help them become more proficient at work through proper training.  Be patient in guiding your staff in order for them to deliver the kind of work you expect.   

Be sure that communication and collaboration tools are already in place before you proceed to training.  Decide on how many days you will devote to this activity.  The degree of difficulty in performing the tasks must be taken into consideration. More days are needed for difficult assignments and less for easier tasks.  

Here are the steps needed to train your Virtual Assistants.


  • Orientation.  Day 1 of training must be devoted to orienting your staff with your business.  


Lay down the groundwork plus express your expectations. This is a good ice breaker because you will be able to formally welcome your Virtual assistant to your company.  

Although you already gave an overview on your business during the interview, it is advisable to extensively discuss this matter so as to give your staff a better idea of how you envision your company’s growth.


  • Provide step by step instructions. Write down how you want them to complete the assigned tasks. Be clear and concise. You do not want your staff to get lost with a very lengthy list.  


Use a screencast software so it will be easy for you to run down each step during the training. Schedule an online video conference for Day 2 of training to discuss your preferred working methods and every step involved in the process.  This way, your Virtual Assistant will be able to grasp your instructions better.  

This will also give him/her a chance to throw in queries prior to the commencement of work.  You may opt to record a video tutorial also.  This will be very helpful because they can just replay the video for future reference.  


  • End training with a Trial task. It is best to give your Virtual Assistant a trial run at the end of training, so you could test how well he/she understood your instructions. This will also give both of you a chance to iron out the glitches in your system before the actual work begins.  


Good training is no guarantee that mistakes will never happen.  But this will ensure that both of you will be able to work in the same direction.  When the boss and staff are synchronized, one can expect an efficient work output.  

Be patient because your staff relies on you for guidance. There are no shortcuts to training your people.  It takes time to align them to your work methods.  Keep your communication line open even after training, so you could monitor them while work is in progress.  


A Look Into the Future: Virtual Assistance in 2017

With 2017 just around the corner, what does the future hold for virtual assistance?

Virtual assistance provides a wide scope of services for businesses that is conducted online from remote locations. Over the last decade, the virtual assistance has grown to the point that you can find a Virtual Assistant to render any service you need.

Virtual assistants are no longer just secretaries or personal assistants. This is why the term “virtual assistant” has also undergone an evolution for appropriateness. Virtual assistants can be referred to as telecommuters, freelancers or home-based workers. These terms share the same definition: people who are contracted to render services from remote locations.

You can find a Virtual Assistant for the following technical services:

  • Website Design and Programming
  • Software Application Development
  • Translation
  • Digital Marketing
  • Legal, Medical and Business Transcription
  • Content Marketing Process
  • Accounting
  • IT Management
  • Human Resource Services
  • Market Research

It doesn’t matter whether your business is big or small or if you are engaged in real estate, the legal practice or e-commerce. You will experience many benefits from contracting virtual assistance services:

  1. Lower business costs.
  2. Increase your level of productivity.
  3. Introduce business flexibility.
  4. Improve quality of work.
  5. Reduce business risks attributable to expansion.
  6. Ability to pursue new business opportunities.
  7. Improve internal funding to cover projects and programs.
  8. Implement sustainable business strategies.
  9. Develop strategic partnerships.
  10. Reduce stress levels.

All of these benefits combined with the growing diversity in the virtual assistance industry will further improve its value proposition.

Thus, in 2017 expect the virtual assistance industry to maintain its upward trajectory as demand for its services will continue to grow from businesses worldwide.

What are the key indicators of growth in 2017 and beyond for the virtual assistance industry?

  • Based on studies by Global Workplace, 20% to 25% of the work force is composed of virtual assistants or telecommuters.
  • 50% of most jobs available in companies are suited for virtual assistance work.
  • Fortune 1000 companies are revamping their offices because employees are becoming increasing mobile.
  • A US poll by Gallup showed that incorporating virtual assistants or telecommuters in the work force increased by 37% in 2015.
  • In the UK, a survey undertaken by the Global Leadership Summit showed that 34% of businesses stated that they would implement remote worker solutions in 2020. The consensus is the work force should comprise of at least 50% virtual assistants or telecommuters.
  • Virtual assistants earn more than regular office workers. A survey by Payoneer showed that on average a virtual assistant or a freelancer earns pretax rate of $21 per hour which is higher than the average earnings of regular employees in most countries.
  • A study by Elance showed that developed economies such as the US, Australia, the UK, Canada and the UAE continue to hire the highest number of virtual assistants.
  • Companies continue to outsource work to countries where a comparative advantage in labor exists. These include the Philippines, India and China.

Thus, the future for the virtual assistance industry looks bright in 2017 and beyond. As the global business environment continues to undergo change and remains unpredictable, more companies and enterprises will embrace the value proposition of virtual assistance.

tenant application check

How To Check A Background For A Tenant

Property rental involves two parties: the tenant and the landlord. Both have different interests yet share the same objective. A tenant wants to find available property with the qualities that would best fit his needs and budget. A landlord wants to find the tenant who would best attend to the needs and preservation of his property. If a tenant does an inspection on the property before making an offer, a landlord would check the background of a tenant before accepting an offer.

Why You Need to Check the Background of a Prospective Tenant

For the owner of the property, leasing provides a stable means of generating income on his asset. If the property was acquired through a lending program, leasing would be a smart way of financing the loan without compromising your cash flow. It is important to keep repair and maintenance costs down in order to preserve the profit margin on the rental property.

The Residential Tenancies Act 1987 gives tenants a high level of security and protection. Under the Act, a tenant who pays rent in exchange for the rights to occupy residential premises has exclusive possession of the property. Exclusive possession means the right to exclude others including the landlord from entering the premises.

Thus for property owners, granting a tenant exclusive possession on their property is a big deal. You are turning over the use of your asset to someone you don’t know. Once the rental agreement is signed and the keys are turned over, you have no idea what goes on behind closed doors.

What if the tenant has a history of fraud? What if he or she deals in drugs? What if the tenant is a licensed sex offender? Looks can be deceiving. Speculation may border on paranoia but you should consider all possibilities when it comes to protecting your asset and livelihood.

How to Check the Background of a Tenant

Although the housing market for Australia has softened, demand for rental property remains high because of tight supply and a rapidly increasing population. It is a good time to be renting property. For sure, you will generate serious interest from a wide range of prospective tenants.

Chances are your property would attract interest from more than one tenant. Property managers or landlords might find their hands full and their time tied verifying each and every applicant.

But conducting a background check on the tenant is a very important part of the leasing process. It may not be as difficult as you think provided you have the necessary system in place to carry it out.

Here are a few tips on how to check the background of a tenant:

1. Require every applicant to fill out a rental application form

This should be a prerequisite in the lease process. If you don’t have your own form, you can download templates from the Internet.

The rental application form should ask the prospect to fill-out the following information:

  • Full Name
  • Date of Birth
  • Social Security Number
  • Current Address
  • Previous Address
  • Current Employer

2. Ask all applicants to provide additional documentation

The rental application form may not be enough to verify the identity of the prospect. You should require all applicants to submit the following supporting documents:

Copy of Valid Passport or Driver’s License
Bank References
Credit Card References
Proof of Employment (Certification or Pay Slips)

3. Ask all applicants to execute a Privacy Consent Form

This document allows you to contact all the references provided by the applicants. The references should include previous landlords. If the applicant gives you references, don’t just set these names aside.

Be proactive and give them a call. It is highly possible that the applicant has advised his or her references to expect a call from you. So you should be ready with your list of questions.

4. Invite the applicant to an interview

Remember that this person could be the one you would be interacting with for the next few months. You should find out as much as you can about the candidate.

Most importantly, use the interview to assess if you will be comfortable with him or her as a tenant. Among the questions you should ask are as follows:

  • “Why did you decide to move over here?”
  • “What is your typical day like?”
  • “Do you have pets?”
  • “Will anyone else be living with you?”
  • “Do you smoke?”
  • “Are you the type who frequently hosts parties?”
  • “Do you allow friends and family to sleep over?”

5. Use online background checking services

There are many reputable online companies that offer tenant application checking services on prospective tenants. These companies are highly experienced and are experts in conducting background checks.

The usual suite of services includes the following:

  • Identity Verification
  • Tenant Tica and VEDA Screening
  • Bankruptcy and Court Record Check
  • ASIC Company Directorship Check

Their findings are cross-checked across a large spectrum of data bases to ensure accuracy of all information. The services are easy to use. All you need to do is upload the tenant application form and they will do the rest.

Some of these companies are fast but precise. You can get a full report within 4 hours.

It may seem tedious and for sure involves a great deal of time and effort. But rest assured it will be all worth it. At the end of the day, finding the right tenant becomes a question of trust. If you don’t check the background of the tenant, you could be signing away your future.

real estate virtual assistant

Where And How To Hire Good Real Estate Virtual Assistants

Real estate is one of the best investments you can ever make. Land appreciates over time and its return on investment will depend on factors such as ongoing development, potential for improvement and level of interest. Agents are highly knowledgeable on evaluating the viability of property. Coincidentally, that same intelligence and approach to analyzing real estate is needed to know where and how to hire good real estate virtual assistants.

Real estate is an industry that is process- driven. Whether you are a buyer or seller of property, you should be familiar with the different stages of the transaction and current legislation in the city state. This is why people who want to engage in the real estate market go to an agent. They have the experience to guide you through the process of acquiring or selling property.

This is also why an agent’s agenda is usually packed with “things to do”. You could be scheduled to meet with clients, arrange site visits or inspections, negotiate contracts and verify land titles. In between, you may be taking in calls, checking e-mails, firming up your calendar and updating records.

A career in real estate can be rewarding if you are able to attend to all the tasks that need to be done. And this is where a real estate Virtual Assistant can be of great use.

With a Virtual Assistant, you can delegate the non- core functions so you can allocate more time and resources to the activities that directly contribute to the growth of your real estate career. These non- core functions include:

  • Administrative Duties
  • Marketing and Promotional Work
  • Sales Support
  • Back Office Work
  • Customer Service

But not all virtual assistants are productive. In an industry that has grown exponentially over the last decade, it can be assumed the level of talent has been diluted as more people enter the profession.

Where to Find Good Real Estate Virtual Assistants

“Location, location, location”. We’ve heard the same advice before. If you want your investment to pay out dividends, getting the right location is the key. The same can be said for finding good real estate virtual assistants.

If you are planning to hire people who work in the virtual world, the obvious first place to look is the Internet. There are many sites that you can visit online to find qualified candidates for your real estate virtual assistant position.

1. Virtual Assistance Agencies – Because of the consistently high demand for virtual assistants, more online agencies have come up in the last decade. Dealing with an online virtual assistance has the following advantages:

  • Available roster of virtual assistants to choose from.
  • References on each VA are readily available.
  • Wide variety of skill sets; agency can send you a shortlist of candidates who have experience working in real estate.
  • Periodically trained and oriented by the agency.
  • If arrangement doesn’t work out, agency can replace your VA with another one.

Be vigilante when dealing with agencies. There are always scammers in the Internet. Conduct due diligence work before reaching out to any agency.

2. Online Job Sites – If you are thinking about hiring a freelancer as your Virtual Assistant, online job sites can connect you with several qualified candidates.

Platforms such as Upwork, Guru and Freelancer function like marketplaces that bring clients and freelancers together. You post a job, candidates apply and you implement a selection process. If you want to hire fully trained real estate virtual assistants, RealEstateVirtualAssistant.com.au is known to have some of the most affordable options.

The advantage of hiring through an online job site is that there are safeguards for both client and freelancer. As the client, you payment will be held in an escrow. It will not be released until you have approved the work of the freelancer.

3. Social Media – You can also find potential candidates on social media sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook. LinkedIn is the best option as you can connect with people who have the skills you are looking for.

It is a professional networking site; you can view the online profile of a member. You can also join focus groups and ask for recommendations or simply post an inquiry on your home page.

You can likewise post an inquiry on your Facebook page and see which contacts can give you referrals. There are also focus groups for startups and entrepreneurs that you can join. You may find a community member who can refer you to a reliable real estate Virtual Assistant.

How to Hire Good Real Estate Virtual Assistants

One of the first steps in helping clients find their dream home is to come up with the list of qualifications:

  • Size of the home
  • Number of rooms
  • Proximity to schools, the CBD and commercial centers
  • Peace and order
  • Accessibility to transportation
  • Amenities and features
  • Price range

The same approach should be carried out when hiring your real estate Virtual Assistant:

  • Years of experience in the real estate industry
  • Language proficiency
  • Familiarity with project management programs
  • Ability to handle spreadsheet, word processing and PowerPoint work
  • Phone handling skills
  • Knowledge in social media, graphic design and MLS

In order to assess the candidate’s qualification, you should subject them to interviews, practical tests and a paid trial period. Come up with a grading system that applies a weight to each variable. For example:

  • Fundamental Skills – 30%; focuses on basic skill requirements of a Virtual Assistant like phone handling, e-mail filtering, calendar management and appointment setting.
  • Technical Skills – 30%; focuses on specific proficiencies like managing MLS, navigating through the Internet, preparing spreadsheets, handling project management and file sharing software among others.
  • Behavioral Profile – 40%; focuses on the key behavioral or personality traits that make the candidate a perfect fit for the job. It answers the question, “Can I work with the candidate?”Interviews, the paid trial period and psychological profiling tests can help determine if this is the candidate for the job. Another effective approach is to check the content of their social media accounts.

Finding and qualifying good real estate virtual assistants is similar to the process of determining the viability of a specific property. You should approach it with strategy, intent and purpose to make sure you can hire one who fits your needs and wants.


How Hiring a Virtual Assistant can Save You a Fortune Every Month

You should hire a Virtual Assistant if any of these incidents have happened to you:

  • You reconcile your books and realize you failed to collect a large amount of money for services rendered to clients the past few months because you forgot to send invoices.
  • You filter your e-mail and missed multiple job offers for your services that amounted to $10,000 in foregone earnings because you didn’t have the time to prepare and send a formal proposal.
  • You enter a dry spell because you couldn’t find the time to network regularly during your busy months.

Entrepreneurs are guilty of 2 things: micro-managing and working too lean. These are admirable traits but you can never do things on your own. And if you work too lean, eventually you’ll reach a point where your current level of scale can’t accommodate an extra output of productivity. You end up flushing thousands of dollars down the drain.

The best solution is to hire a Virtual Assistant and save up a fortune every month through the following ways:

Organize Your Business

Meetings, payments, follow ups, interviews, submissions of business proposals; the list just goes on and on. If you don’t organize your business, many of these tasks will accumulate, remain undone and result in opportunity costs.

A Virtual Assistant can organize your business by attending to the following tasks:

  • Calendar Management
  • Appointment Setting
  • Phone Handling
  • Follow Ups
  • E-mail Support

Your Virtual Assistant will constantly remind you of deadlines and scheduled dates at least 2 days prior or earlier depending on the level of priority.

Free Up Your Time

If you’re spending too much time attending to administrative duties and support services, you are working IN your business not ON your business.

As an entrepreneur, you should be judicious and strategic with your time if you want to succeed. Your time is best allocated to matters that readily translate to more dollars and cents to your bank account. How much time do you spend filtering e-mail?

By delegating administrative and support services to a Virtual Assistant, you can re-align your work hours and focus on functions that will fast track the success of your business.

Keep Your Payables Up to Date

How would you feel when you are in the middle of an important Skype call and then the Internet gets disconnected? What if you were printing materials for an important presentation then power shuts off?

You did not intend to but somehow the Internet and power bills went unpaid. Although there are ways to get through these inconveniences, it remains a hassle, a time killer and a source of stress.

A Virtual Assistant will keep a schedule of your payables, send you a copy as a reminder and still message you 2 days before the due date.

Streamline Your Business Costs

Hiring a Virtual Assistant will hardly move the needle on your monthly expenses.

The Virtual Assistant is self- employed; technically, he or she owns a business that provides virtual assistance services. Thus the Virtual Assistant is responsible for his or her costs of business.

You do not pay your Virtual Assistant benefits as mandated by the government or your company as he or she is contracted but not employed by your business. Your Virtual Assistant as a proprietor also has other clients to attend to and is not exclusive to you. For example, a real estate business, besides using a company like ForSaleOrRentByOwner can also use an experienced real estate virtual assistant. 

As an entrepreneur, learn to relinquish control and delegate work to your Virtual Assistant. Start out with the non-essentials and slowly transfer the more crucial aspects of your business. Contract another Virtual Assistant if necessary. By hiring virtual assistants, opportunity costs will be things of the past.

5 Smart Ways to Price Your Home for FSBO

5 Smart Ways to Price Your Home for FSBO

FSBO or For Sale By Owner is an approach to home selling where the property owner does not contract the services of a licensed real estate agent to preside over the sale. By foregoing the services of a real estate agent, the property owner effectively improves his or her net return on the sale of the home by 2% to 3%.

More home owners are choosing FSBO over the traditional approach of hiring an agent not only because of the promise of high returns. It is also an approach that is doable. Marketing and promoting your home will take the bulk of your time. But once this is ongoing, you should shift focus to coming up with the price.

Pricing can be a deal killer if it’s not done with thought, strategy and purpose. Here are 5 smart ways to price your home for successful FSBO:

Visit Online Home Valuation Sites

Online home valuation and dedicated For Sale By Owner sites are great sources for getting ideas on how properties in your area are being priced.

Some will provide with information on number of visits per area and average sale price all in comparison with national statistics. There are also online valuation sites that can give you an estimate on your property.

Use Comps

Comps are summaries that show comparisons on home prices over the last 6 months. You can purchase the information from real estate agencies or some online websites.

With comps, you have to find properties that have similar features to yours so you can have an idea on how much a home like yours is worth to potential buyers.

Attend Open Homes and Auctions

Open homes and auctions are great venues to get more concrete ideas on pricing. Talk to buyers and brokers and find out how they arrive at their purchasing decisions.

You will also get a feel of how a real estate transaction takes shape. You can observe and note down the typical behaviors of buyers when inspecting homes.

Hire a Property Appraiser

A good option is to hire a Property Appraiser to give you an assessment of how much your home would be worth in the real estate market.

It may cost you $400 to hire a Property Appraiser but in return you will get an authenticated document to support your asking price. Of course, be wary that buyers may have their own appraisers as well.

Contract the Services of a Desk Appraiser

A Desk Appraiser is a much affordable option than a Property Appraiser. He or she will not visit your home. Instead the Desk Appraiser will pull together a comp summarizing the sales prices of homes in your area within the last 6 months.

The Desk Appraiser will assign a range value and it will be up to you to figure out where your home falls in the price range. A Desk Appraiser will typically charge you $80.

The price of your home will determine whether you register a sale or you will stay in the property market longer. Keep in mind that it is better to have your home sold as quickly as possible in order to get the price you want. The longer it stays in the market the lower becomes its perceived value.

A good idea would be to hire the services of a Virtual Assistant with the experience and expertise in the real estate industry. The real estate VA may be able to put together comps, make a CMA or research pricing at online home valuation and FSBO sites.

When it comes to pricing, do not identify a price range based on how much you want to earn. It must have good basis and references in order to make it more realistic and enticing to prospective buyers.

8 Steps to Selling Your Own Home

8 Steps to Selling Your Own Home

Selling your own home will help you generate a higher return on your property because you don’t have to pay the real estate agent’s commission.

And it is not as difficult as you may think!

With a bit of planning and organization, you may sell your home faster than any real estate agent.

Write Down Your Home’s Selling Points

Conduct an overall assessment of your home and write down the features that would make visitors interested in buying it.

Among the important things to consider:

  • Swimming pool
  • Number of rooms
  • Number of toilet and baths
  • Size of garden
  • Capacity of garage

The idea is to pinpoint features and amenities that would make your house an attractive option compared to others in the neighbourhood.

Create Marketing Copy

Using the assessment you made on your house, try to create compelling marketing copy. This is not a particularly difficult task.

But if you are not confident of your copywriting skills, hire a Virtual Assistant.

Virtual assistants are highly skilled and proficient in creating marketing copy. They know the best keywords to use so your marketing copy can easily be found online.

Take Photos of Your Home

Good quality, high- resolution images are a great way to attract more interest in your home.

Hiring a professional photographer is always a good idea but they could be expensive.

If you have a friend who dabbles in photography in his spare time, ask him to take the photos as a way of getting more practice and experience.

Research Online for Comparative Pricing

Pricing is often the deal breaker in many negotiations. While buyers are open to adjusting their bids, your selling price must not be unrealistic.

You can check out a number of home value sites online to get an idea how much property in your area has been selling the last 6 months.

You can also ask a property appraiser to give you an estimate on your home based on current market values.

Sign Up in an FSBO Site

One of the most effective ways to get your house moving in the market is by listing it in a For Sale By Owner or FSBO site.

Thousands of people visit these FSBO sites to look for the best homes at the most affordable prices. You will definitely get a good number of visits in your FSBO page.

If you opt for the free membership, you will have to update the images and text content yourself. Or you could simply designate this task to your real estate Virtual Assistant.

Utilize Social Media

Find out if your neighbourhood has a community page in Facebook or other social media. Ask the administrator of the page if you could join the community.

It is possible that one of the members would know someone interested in buying a home in the neighbourhood.

Remember to link your social media page to your FSBO account.

Schedule Open House Visits

Open House visits can draw in a large number of interested buyers. Do the following before opening up your home for inspection:

  • Conduct general cleaning
  • Remove all personal items
  • Open up spaces
  • Have marketing materials printed out
  • Have the contract of sale ready

Be ready to negotiate at any time during the Open House. You should already have a price range in mind.

Create a Short List of Prospects

If your efforts have allowed you to generate a considerable number of bids, review all of them carefully and identify 3 of the best prospects.

Schedule a day in the week to meet with each prospective buyer individually.

When it comes to selecting the best bid, it’s not just the price that should be considered but also the terms and mode of payment.

It’s very important to keep in mind that it is best to sell your home within 4 months. Otherwise the perceived value may drop.

This is another advantage of selling your own home. You can devote 100% full attention while a real estate agent with all of his or her clients cannot do.


How to Build a Solid Foundation for Outsourcing Services

Outsourcing services to a third party provider has been proven strategy for businesses to survive, and even profit during a turbulent economy. Proof of this is the continued uptrend in global outsourcing beginning the year 2000. The last 15 years of the world’s history has seen turmoil at an unprecedented stage.

Wars, global recessions, collapse in equity markets, bankruptcies, massive unemployment and changes in political structures have made business become more unpredictable. Outsourcing gives businesses the best option to adapt mobility and flexibility in their strategy design.

But despite the continued growth of the global outsourcing industry, there have been instances where the arrangement did not benefit either party. Like other methodologies, you have your fair share of detractors of outsourcing services. And while they have valid points, rather than getting sold on them, you should learn from their experience.

If you want to adopt a successful and profitable business model, you should first build a solid foundation for it.

Here is how you establish an effective outsourcing model for your business.

Research on Outsourcing

The biggest mistake clients make is not undertaking the required amount of research on outsourcing. You should learn everything that you can about outsourcing. Go beyond the Internet and talk to qualified resource people and those who have previous experience, both good and bad. Prepare market studies and financial studies and use these as immediate references.

Identify the Tasks You Need Outsourced

Review your current business model and create a summary or matrix on all the tasks that are involved. Categorize the tasks to essential and non-essential. Determine the number of hours in a day you will need to manage the essential tasks. The non- essential tasks should be your outsourced services.

Assess Your Level of Commitment

What will be your level of involvement when you outsource services? This is an important question especially for the first 2 quarters of the arrangement. You have to spend some time with the service provider to make sure the quality of deliverables is consistent with your standards. It may not seem like you have more time for the essential tasks but it will be time well spent to get the working engagement right.

Find Your 3rd Party Services Provider

As big as outsourcing has gotten, there are many 3rd party services providers in the market. You have to be careful when choosing your outsourcing partner. Here are some tips to consider:

  • Conduct due diligence
  • Get referrals or recommendations
  • Create a short list of 5 prospective service providers
  • Ask for references and endorsements to contact them
  • Subject the candidates to interviews and testing

Set the Guidelines and Expectations

Once you’ve found your outsourcing services provider, discuss the work guidelines and share expectations. Outsourcing is perpetually a work in progress; it should only get better. Outsourcing is effective but it is not a cure-all. There will be problems but as with all relationships, both parties should work toward resolving them.

Outsourcing services will continue to become a relevant strategy over the next few years. Your business will greatly benefit from it but you have to set the foundations for its success.  


Will Artificial Intelligence Replace the Human Virtual Assistant?

With the largest technology companies investing in Artificial Intelligence, will the AI soon replace the VA or Virtual Assistant?

Apple started the AI revolution with Siri in 2010. Understandably, there were many faults and errors in the initial programming which was to be expected with new innovations. Siri’s issues which included voice recognition and problems conducting specific search queries led to a number of class action lawsuits in 2012.

But technology companies were undeterred and followed Apple’s lead. Over the last few years, other technology companies have followed suit.

Here is a short list of AI Assistants developed by select technology companies:

  1. Siri – Apple
  2. Cortana – Microsoft
  3. M – Facebook
  4. Braina – Microsoft
  5. Alexa – Amazon
  6. Google Now –  Google
  7. BlackBerry Assistant – BlackBerry
  8. Duer – Baidu
  9. Echo – Amazon
  10. Assistant – SpeakToIt

These AI Assistants offer users the following advantages:

  • Reduced probability of errors
  • Higher precision and expected level of accuracy
  • Not subject to physical afflictions as human Virtual Assistants
  • Incapable of emotional instability as human Virtual Assistants
  • Can work 24/7 without issue

Some of these AI Assistants such as Duer will complete your tasks without having to notify you. It knows what you like to order from your favorite restaurant and will find ways to have your food delivered by coursing it through the technology companies contracted courier services.

But while these AI Assistants are providing a convenient service, it is not without cost.

For these technology companies, every time you use their AI Assistant you are giving them more information on your behavioral traits. They have information on what you like to eat, the movies you want to watch, the places you frequent for vacation and the airlines you often patronize.

Information that translates to big money for these technology companies; they will send you coupons and offers that match your consumption behavior.

Many will probably agree to this as social media remains popular despite becoming an efficient lead generator for the likes of Facebook and YouTube.

On the other hand, Virtual Assistants will just work to get the job done for you. You pay exactly for the service that is rendered. It is an amicable arrangement not parasitic where one feeds on the needs of the other.

The criticism that human virtual assistants make mistakes completely misses the point. Virtual assistants have the power of foresight and rationale. They have the ability to anticipate potential risks in the horizon. And if they make a mistake, they can remedy the situation by running down prepared courses of action.

If you have customer service, the last thing you would want is to automate the process. Successful customer service is all about creating a feedback loop where clients or subscribers and the Virtual Assistant can bounce off ideas to arrive at an immediate resolution. An irate customer will only get more frustrated dealing with an automated system.

An AI does not have the ability to understand urgency but human Virtual Assistants do because they can empathize with you. If you have an important presentation, an AI can get you accurate facts but content is not just about precision. The material must be compelling enough to solicit the desired emotional response.

While AI Assistants have their purpose, they cannot supplant a Virtual Assistant. It is through their imperfections that the Virtual Assistant reveals their true value to the client.


How to Build Your Career as a Virtual Assistant

As a Virtual Assistant, you are not stuck where you are managing work for your current portfolio of clientele. You are a business owner; a proprietor offering virtual assistance services. You can build your career and build your business just like every other entrepreneur. Here are 4 tips you should consider:

Expand Your Scope of Services. Initially you should focus only on your core competence; the skill or offering wherein you can guarantee quality and timely submission of projects.

For example, if you are a good writer you may start out by offering blogging services. As you gain traction and confidence, you should slowly expand your scope of services to include the following:

  • Web Copy
  • Short Form Articles
  • Marketing Copy
  • E-Books
  • Resumes
  • Market Research

Each type of writing has its own style and set of nuances. This is why slow and easy does it when expanding your scope of services. E-books for example can be more informal in tone and content.

Keep in mind that these types of content will have different time tables for delivery. Short form articles, resumes and web copies can be daily while market research could be bi-monthly. Expanding your scope of services demands expert time management.

Focus on Volume of Work. The ultimate goal of every Virtual Assistant is to land long- term engagements. But this takes time and consistency in the quality of deliverables. Also, clients may like your work but depending on the status of their own business, job orders may be sporadic.

If business remains inconsistent, focus on increasing your volume of work. There are many online job market websites such as Fiverr that offer short term work but provides a source of steady income. You can land 5 to 7 short term writing jobs per day such as 500 word articles, 200 word web copies, and generate an additional $700 to your monthly income.

It will also increase your portfolio of market and gives a large market to promote your skills and services.

Create a Virtual Team. It’s hard to say “No” to additional work. After all, why should you decline an opportunity to add to your coffers right? Logic states that you should only accept work you can accommodate without compromising quality and timely submissions. But it’s hard to decline an offer to make extra money. The best recourse is to create a virtual team.

Before you seek out more clients, build your network of virtual assistants. Keep in touch with them and come up with an agreement that if you have additional work, you will hire them. But it would be best to discuss with them your proposed payment structure.

For example, if you charge a client $12 per 1,000 word article you can pay your Virtual Assistant associate $7 for the article and keep the $5. You may not have earned your usual rate but at the same time, you still add to your income.

Diversify Your Services. Once you have your team of virtual assistants running efficiently, you could now look at diversifying your services.

If you are currently focusing on writing services, you could look at other projects such as website design and programming. You just have to make sure you have a good website designer to rely on.

You can charge $1,500 to the service and pay the website designer $1,000 while you keep the $500.

Growing a business is a process that takes time. But with planning and determination, you can dramatically increase your income levels and sustain earnings over the long haul.

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