by Erica Cosminsky
Ok, before you smack me, let me set this straight. I LOVE my VA. Couldn’t live without her. It’s the “term” and the psychological implications that I have issues with.
1. Like the term “secretary”, which has a lot of baggage and has become uncouth, the term assistant has latched on to many of the same negative issues. In a corporate structure, the “administrative assistant” is often looked down on or considered a low-paying, entry level job. Usually these positions are over-worked, and vital to business.
Consider the “Secretary of State” or “Secretary of Defense”. They are the heads of their respective departments and frankly some of the most powerful people in the world. Secretary here is used to mean something different.
2. For someone who has no experience with a VA, using the term Virtual Assistant immediately locks the mind into an image of someone who answers the phone and opens mail.
Often the first issue I work with my clients on is that they don’t know what tasks to give their VA. Instead of thinking of them like a receptionist, they need to see them as an invaluable partner who can do tasks:
- Newsletter Management
- Proofreading and Editing
- Social Media Management
- Website Management (Content Posting and Updates)
- Preparing Event Information
- Email and Appointment Management
- Managing Client Database
3. When you think of having a VA, psychologically the brain starts to look for one “perfect” suitor.
Come on. We all know perfect doesn’t exist. By looking for one person to fill all of the would-be-nice-to-have tick boxes, you may be eliminating a phenomenal person for other tasks. When looking for an assistant, if you find someone who clicks with your business, why would you not bring them on, even if you have to one-off a single task to another person.
I’d love for you to bring into your mindset that there is no reason you can’t have more than one helper.
4. So I know for SEO reasons “virtual assistant” is a commonly searched term. VA is horrible. Seriously if you don’t believe me check out The Department of Veteran’s Affairs stronghold on the results for “VA” (at least in the US).
Being creative with titles frees your helper. Before I sold my transcription company, I had a project manager that helped me with various tasks like returning files, proofreading, etc. I could have called her my “assistant” but would she have taken on such a leading responsible role in my business? I originally hired her as a “proofreader”. The day I changed her title she became more empowered to get results.
There’s no reason that you can’t call your assistant something else within your own business. If you hire an exclusive assistant, give them a fun title.
Titles of Empowerment
Whether you choose to actually give your VA a new title, think of how great it would be to approach this relationship as one that will lend itself best to skyrocket your business potential. Imagine giving your assistant a list and later that day the tasks are just done (correctly!).
Now I don’t mean give her the passwords to everything including your bank account on the first day. But after building a solid relationship with her you should be comfortable with her logging in to your accounts and doing things on particular assigned days. Most VAs keep up with things so if you need something done on the same day every month, it just happens.
I asked my assistant what she thought the strongest thing she brought to the table was and she said her integrity and honesty. I have to say I totally agree with her. She’s honest with me if I give her a task she can’t do and on the other hand, if I send her something for feedback, she sends me more substance than “oh it was good.” I’m also always amazed at what she can do in 2 hours. I always expect to be running out of prepaid time because of all she’s gotten done!
It’s time to stop hesitating! So tell me what mental blocks you have about hiring an assistant or toward turning him or her loose on working in your business.
Erica Cosminsky is an HR Business Strategist for small businesses. She can slog through the pile of applicants and help deliver the best assistant to your “office door”, she transforms mile long to-do lists into manageable bites, and like your best friend after a raging party, she sticks around to offer assistance or clean up any messes, etc.