Often when people think of a personal or virtual assistant, they think basic and general administrative work or tasks, like running errands, answering phones and making files. While these are necessary organizational tasks, the world of virtual and personal assistance extends beyond the basics but now includes highly skilled professional workers with intermediate to advance expertise in accounting, finance, legal, public relations, marketing, communications, health care, insurance and real estate.
Who are today’s niche personal or virtual assistants?
They are smart, resourceful, competent and educated individuals (male and female) who may have worked as assistants, specialist and managers in their field at one time. But instead of letting their skill, expertise, and knowledge go to waste, many professionals are packaging their skills and talents to offer niche services to a specific industry or task. Some people sell their skills as consultants and are able to command a higher bill rate. But niche personal and virtual assistants not only are able to consult on a problem and offer a solution, but actually perform the work seamlessly and with little to no direction. And often, while their rates are competitively higher than a basic administrative assistant, the right virtual or personal assistant far exceeds the value for their cost.
Virtual assistant specialists offer the same if not higher level of professionalism as would a regular employee but often have more incentive to prove their value and worth. One great advantage to being a niche virtual assistant is the schedule flexibility for maximizing work performance and creating solutions and results for their clients. There is no secret that many companies may have employees who are faced with downtime but who are still on the clock being paid. With a virtual assistant, the employee is paid only for the hours they work and the time they put in. They are task specific and efficient because if the work doesn’t get done, they don’t get paid, no future work or referrals.
So how can a niche virtual or personal assistant help you?
A good, savvy virtual or personal assistant should have experience in your field and familiarity working with industry type executives and managers, be self-sufficient and easily accessible (during agreed upon hours). They should be set up at home with a phone (mobile is okay), computer, laptop, printer, Microsoft Office or other appropriate software and Internet access to perform work online using, email, Dropbox or a client management dashboard. Many assistants can and will meet on site but preference is offsite to allow more flexibility, with the exception of a personal assistant who may need to travel with their employer or be on site to manage day-to-day operations. A freelance virtual or personal assistant is also entrepreneurial-minded so they often are proactive and able to think ahead of your needs and offer solutions or ideas. In many respects, the assistant is your strategic ally in helping you to be successful, so identifying someone with a specific strong skill set that is compatible with your personality is key because the work relationships is about trust and respect.
So if you are struggling to get work done in your business but lack the expertise in certain areas, consider hiring a specialized personal or virtual assistant with a specific niche. This type of service is often very helpful for the entrepreneur and small business owner who needs to offload tasks they don’t have the time or knowledge to complete, allowing them more time to focus on their core business. But even small to mid-sized corporations now are considering how a niche virtual and personal assistant can fulfill critical work needs, solving problems, and adding value.
Finding a Niche Virtual or Personal Assistant
Because this market has grown over the past 10 years, a quick Internet search will help you to identify personal assistant services. You an also try sites like Elance, Odesk, Fiverr, or post classified ads on Craigslist or Ebay Classifieds if you want to find someone yourself. Or register with an employment agency, who will have already performed a screening and background check. I believe, however, the best way is from word of mouth. There are talented people available looking for great opportunities. Let your trusted colleagues know that you are looking and what skills you need. Everyone knows someone and you’d be surprised at how a referral can be a business or project lifesaver.
N. Ann Hall is the managing director of Own Your Idea, LLC, and a freelance writer and blogger at Diva Nina Writes and business blog, Own Your Idea. She also works as a virtual lifestyle manager/personal assistant with a niche specialty in providing writing, editorial, proofreading, typing, and transcription services to serious-minded authors, entrepreneurs, business executives and VIPs who are using social media marketing tools to build and grow their reputations and brands. She can best be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 678.310.6573.