So what exactly is a VA?

Louise Attenborough, Chocolate Collective

This is the question we’ve been asked on more than one occasion. “I have to admit, I had to Google it” said a friend of ours when we announced our recent runner up position for North West VA of the Year. And chatting to other virtual assistants at the NorthWest VA Conference, we’re not the only ones struggling to describe what we do in a nice, neat title.


A VA is very much like a PA in a traditional organisation, carrying out various tasks to support you and your organisation achieve more each day, but they work from home and have other clients too.  They might represent you and have an email address as if from your company, you might assign them specific tasks such as social media or they may help behind the scenes with spreadsheets, research, presentation formatting etc…


Freelance admin, business support, outsource solution – there are plenty of descriptions out there but virtual assistant seems to be the most commonly used.  But no one VA is the same and their set of skills vary widely, which is why it can often feel like it undersells our profession.  The best virtual assistants will admit that they can’t do everything – no-one can!! – and focus on their key skills.  However, we utilise our wide network of contacts and associate VA’s to ensure that no matter what support is required by our clients, we can find a solution; whether that’s referring them to someone in our little black book, using our resources to find a new supplier or coordinating a project through numerous third party suppliers.


One of our key specialisms at Queen Bee is marketing, following our many years working within marketing departments and advertising agencies.  We’re able to help with strategy, research and planning, with our natural organisation skills giving us the added advantage of being able to hit the ground running on logistics and implementation.


Our love of communication extends to writing and so we create many blogs, opinion pieces and enewsletters for our clients; the tasks that they’ve committed to and fully intend to do once an eighth day is invented!


In addition, we thrive when asked to find better ways of working, reviewing processes, trialling new technology and sourcing new suppliers.  We especially love it when we introduce clients to an app or way of working that saves them hours each month.


Imagine it’s a Sunday evening, you’re staring at a growing pile of admin, depressed that it has distracted you all day and now frustrated that you’ve only managed to tackle two documents.  Or it’s midweek, you have just reviewed your figures and reality has hit that if you don’t get more customers quick, you’re going to struggle to keep your head above water.


You may feel overwhelmed, frustrated or frightened by it all. That’s where you need to consider outsourcing.  Just a few hours a week/month, can make an enormous amount of difference, keeping business ticking while you focus on driving it forward and doing what you do best.


And because you’re buying by the hour or pre-agreed bundles of time, you remain in control of your budget, with none of the PAYE headaches or commitments that come with taking on a full time employee.  You can’t use the excuse you can’t afford it either; just tot up the unprocessed invoices, the unwritten new business proposals, the under subscribed classes and see exactly how much you’re missing out on by failing to complete these tasks.  And that’s before we get on to how long it took you to set yourself up on Google+, distracting you from actually doing any work whatsoever!


So that’s what a virtual assistant or VA is/does – an organisational queen who provides an extra pair of hands and a new set of skills to your business, at a time and pace that suits you.  You can call us a fairy godmother if you like!