The Bonus Brain Working with Virtual Assistant
A what assistant? That’s the question I get most often. A virtual assistant (VA) is a person that works off-site and assists with a variety of tasks like revising documents, making travel arrangements, updating your Web site, creating newsletters, etc. Obviously, they don’t do some administrative tasks such as filing, answering the phone, or bookkeeping. But, that’s ideal for those of us who work mainly from home.
A good VA is more than a secretary; she or he is sort of a bonus brain to help your practice. My VA, Donna Cravotta, puts it this way, “Once I start with you consistently, I am always thinking about your business.” A recent example: I asked Donna to help me edit a client survey. She suggested I create an online survey instead. Then, she researched the options, created my user account, survey, and tracking method. That’s sharp thinking and a lot of help!
Here are some tips on working with a VA:
- Track your administrative tasks for a week or so—which tasks keep you from doing billable work or do you just dislike doing? These are good tasks to potentially delegate to a VA.
- Be ready to delegate. This is a big transition for some solos.
- Do some research. There is a wealth of information on the virtual assistance industry on the Web. For example www.virtualassistantnetworking.com.
- The relationship between an attorney and the VA is intended to be a collaborative and long-standing partnership. Take your time to interview several people and trust your instincts. It–s important to like and understand each other. Donna and I are culturally very different—she from New York, me from the Deep South—but we hit it off immediately.
- Be open to suggestions and change. In addition to providing years of on- and off-site administrative support, professional VAs keep current on new processes and technologies and can offer a fresh perspective on helping you run your business more effectively.
- Be flexible and look at the big picture. VAs offer a wide range of services, but there may be services they do not offer. You can complete your virtual office by contracting with an answering service and hiring a virtual bookkeeper.
A VA can be a useful addition to your practice and provide some extra brain power when you’re occupied by billable work.
Laurie Kadair Redman is a solo practitioner from Baton Rouge, LA, with a practice primarily in estate planning and probate. She can be contacted at email@example.com.