Virtual Assistant Industry News
"We were so pleased to announce BPOVIA as a Red Herring Top 100 Global Company," commented Red Herring publisher Alex Vieux. "BPOVIA has proven to be a company excelling in virtual assistant industry and its ripples have turned into waves. It was difficult for us to narrow down, but we are pleased to have included BPOVIA in our list of promising companies. We look forward to the changes BPOVIA makes to virtual assistant industry in the future."
BPOVIA, the leading Virtual Assistant and Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO) service provider in China, was named as Finalists for the "Red Herring 100 Asia" Awards 2008. BPOVIA is the first virtual assistant service provider to ever be nominated for this prestigious award.
Small businesses increasingly are tapping a new talent pool: the world.A new generation of online service marketplaces is giving small companies more opportunities than ever to find specialized expertise and affordable labor. Main Street businesses can shop a virtual international bazaar of freelancers to recruit computer programmers in Russia, graphic designers in San Francisco or data analysts in India.
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I outsourced this article. Not the whole thing, just the tedious bits, the parts I didn't want to do, like looking up the average monthly wage in India.
I farmed that out to my personal assistant, R. Patrick in Bangalore, India, for $15 an hour. He's also writing a report for me about On Beauty, for the next meeting of my book club. Seriously, that novel is 446 pages long. Who has the time?
MELVILLE, N.Y. -- As president of the Long Island chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management, Doug Silverman doesn't have an office, nor does he have a secretary, a fax machine, a computer or even a drinking fountain.
The only sensible solution to growth is to multiply your manpower. Yet, you may have a multitude of reasons that prevent you from hiring a personal assistant, even though it's obvious you need one. Wouldn't it be great if you had an assistant that was always ready to work for you, but only when you need him or her? Meet the virtual assistant, a creative new labor force that provides practical solutions for small businesses and job growth potential for outsourcers.
Paula Harris has an assistant who always seems to be there for her--even though they're not based in the same city or even in the same state. Harris, a Chicago television producer and promoter, last year hired Vonetta Booker-Brown, a "virtual assistant" based in Bridgeport, Conn., to answer her phones and handle other office-type duties. Now, says Harris, "I can concentrate on running my business without getting overwhelmed by administrative tasks."
Carl Whittier would find it hard to run his business without Janice Byer. She answers the phone for Whittier's Caledon East, Ont.-based business, Whittier Canada Enterprise Inc., which sells snow-making equipment to ski resorts. She types letters, prepares invoices and purchase orders, goes through Mr. Whittier's e-mail for him and deals with the company's accountants.
At the other end of the spectrum is the old-fashioned answering service - the kind used by many doctors' offices for night and weekend calls - where someone takes a message and then passes it on to the business owner.
Then in the middle there's a growing category of souped-up answering services and virtual assistants who provide more than basic message-taking.
Reliable Receptionist in Walnut Creek is one example of a souped-up answering service. It has the ability to connect calls to your cell phone when you're out in the field, and to schedule appointments for you in a Web-based program that you can view and edit from any computer.
Since the term "virtual assistant" surfaced in the mid-1990s, an estimated 5,000 virtual assistants have hung out shingles. Several trade organizations and a handful of vocal advocates are promoting the occupation as a growing industry.
Ursula Huws, an expert on virtual work, said the niche may evolve in the same way as telephone answering services, which she said grew largely from home-based businesses in the 1960s into call centers.
Over the last decade, thousands have swapped corporate jobs to provide services for new bosses who they may never actually meet.
These home-based workers help out with anything from bookkeeping, Web design or travel arrangements via phone, e-mail or fax.
And the industry is now so big that there are trade groups and Web sites that assist virtual assistants (V.A.s) -- and try to attract potential clients.
Physical handicaps, however, should pose no obstacle. Indeed, people with disabilities were among the first workers to recognize how new telecommunications technology could make being a VA viable. "It's a wonderful option for people with disabilities," says Catherine Durst, CEO and founder of a for-profit VA membership association, Staffcentrix, based out of her home in Woodstock, Conn. Her company charges a membership fee -- regularly $49.99, but recently offered at a special price of $19.99 -- that entitles you to participate in a "listserv." That allows members to share tips as well as be listed in an electronic directory that prospective clients can search.
Oct. 3--Kelly Kalmes can recall a time when a secretary sat outside her corporate office. These days, her right hand is based on another continent.
Kalmes, a corporate trainer and consultant, works from an office above her garage in Evanston. Her assistant, Carolyn Moncel, works from her home in Paris.
They collaborate using e-mail, shared computer files and an Internet telephone service.
In the past few years, the Virtual Assistant (VA) industry has increasingly been in the headlines: Good Morning America's Tory Johnson wrote on the flexibility of being a self-employed VA last September. The Today Show also featured the profession as a new way to work from home. The Wall Street Journal, US News & World Report and numerous other publications have made it clear that the virtual assistant business is trendy and growing.
Globalisation and the Internet have made businesses more mobile. People and organisations are becoming more flexible about how they work and how they deal with new business opportunities. As the number of partnerships explodes, the need to work in virtual teams has increased.
Crowdsourcing and telecommuting are conspiring to reinvent the traditional notion of a job. No longer is the one-employer model the only game in town. Some companies have found that work done by freelancers may be of better quality than what they were used to getting from their in-house employees.
In tough economic times, it's tempting to look at payroll and ask, "Who can we cut?" It's like looking in the mirror, realizing that you're overweight and immediately choosing liposuction as a fat-reduction measure. There are alternatives to drastically cutting your work force–especially as these are the very people you will need to rebound when times improve.
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NEW YORK — Think only celebrities, high-ranking professionals and the wealthy can enjoy having personal assistants at their beck and call? Not necessarily.
A growing number of Web sites are making it easier to outsource virtual errands overseas, making it cheaper to indulge in the luxury of never having to write another thank-you card or sit on hold with the department of motor vehicles.
I have a virtual assistant in Vancouver who is clearing my inbox as I type, converting the hundreds of e-mail messages I receive each day into one daily 10-minute phone call, via Skype, for items to which she can't respond with pre-set rules and templates. My physical mail is being forwarded to a start-up that scans non-junk mail and then e-mails time-sensitive documents to me as PDFs.
Wendy Y. Bailey, the founder and president of Brilliance In Action Coaching and Consulting, is a typical sole proprietor, used to doing everything on her own. But when her business started to boom, "it became very clear that I couldn't do it all myself," she says. "But I wasn't in a position to hire a full-time person. Hiring a virtual assistant just made sense for me. I'm a personal and business coach, so I'm comfortable with the whole idea of virtual support."
A VA may be in your local area or anywhere across the county-after all, he or she communicates with you via e-mail, phone, fax and IM. By using software like Symantec's pcAnywhere, you and your VA can even access one another's computers, or you can jointly coordinate work tasks via software housed on Web sites.
Val Williams' executive-coaching business grew so fast when she started it four years ago that she quickly fell behind in billing. She got rid of the backlog by getting help from someone she still works with but has never met in person -- a virtual assistant (VA) who lives in Michigan and communicates with Williams' Edison (N.J.) office by e-mail, fax, and telephone.
This book makes good on its claim, in a style that's mercifully nontechnical and blessedly insightful. Among the author's top tips: Don't amortize costs over a long period of time, and write flexible contracts. Also helpful are corporate case studies explaining why, for instance, network hardware manufacturer Cisco doesn't own any manufacturing plants and how J.C. Penney Co. saved millions by outsourcing its check-collection processes.