The Secret Weapon of Every Entrepreneur – The Virtual Assistant
I came across this article this morning Behind Every Great CEO is an Exceptional Executive Assistant and it inspired me to write this post, because it is something I feel inherently passionate about.
If the CEO’s secret weapon is an Executive Assistant (EA), regardless of whether you classify yourself as an entrepreneur, a solopreneur or a small business owner what’s yours? A Virtual Assistant (VA)?
For many years the most successful high performing executives and CEOs have benefited from having the right Executive Assistant at their side. Why? Because the right executive assistant is completely and utterly invaluable. They are assertive and professional and act as a gatekeeper, allowing their boss to focus his or her attention on the most important and pressing tasks, boosting their productivity. An EA protects the CEO and handles all the tasks that are not an effective use of their time.
They work side by side with the executive they support and over time develop a deep understanding not only of the business they work for, but the executive too, giving them the ability to act as an extension of the executive, as a true deputy and right hand.
Sadly however, there are many CEO’s who are missing this trick. They fail to recognise the value an EA can bring, how do I know this you may ask? Because I witnessed it during my career as an EA. It was hard to watch degree educated, intelligent women with the hunger and drive to be a truly right hand woman to their executive, be sadly underutilised and undervalued, spending more time making tea, photocopying and twiddling their thumbs than getting to grips with understanding the business operations and being permitted to step into somewhat of a leadership role.
I got frustrated in the corporate world. I wanted to be a high performing EA working alongside a high performing CEO. I knew career EA’s existed and that there were roles out but there were not many and most of them wanted women in their 40s and I was a hungry 20 something. From my personal experience, all the seeming wonderful and fulfilling EA roles on paper just didn’t meet my expectations in reality, they weren’t fast paced or fulfilling enough. More often than not the CEO was unwilling to let go, to delegate, to recognise my hunger, drive, passion, knowledge and understanding of the business world and to give me more. After 10 years I decided the only way I was going to be able to add real value was to go solo. To set up my own business supporting high performing business owners who recognise the value of a virtual assistant to help them take their business to the next level.
What is the difference between an Executive Assistant and a Virtual Assistant?
Absolutely nothing. A VA really is no different to an EA. Instead of working full time in the corporate world for one single CEO, they have made their own executive decision and moved from employed to self-employed, working as their own boss in their own business, helping and supporting small business owners and entrepreneurs all over the world using the exact same skillset.
The only big difference is that it is a really cost effective solution, you use a VA for the time you need them, whether that’s 5 hours a month or 5 hours a week. All the while you benefit from years of experience of working at the top, with the added bonus that now they are a business owner too so understand your trials and tribulations just that bit better. They get you even more and if you find a really good one, one with a business head on their shoulders, they can become your biggest cheerleader and even long term business partner because over time they build and develop a vested interest in you and your business.
Why should entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, small businesses and startups use a VA?
You may call me biased, but in my mind hiring a VA is a no brainer. It’s a resource you can’t live without if you are really serious and really want to grow your business. At the beginning of any business venture, when you are wearing a million different hats and juggling far too many balls, outsourcing your time consuming tasks to a virtual assistant is money well spent. By not having someone to help and support you, you will end up costing your business a great deal more, not just in money terms but time as well. Don’t get me wrong it isn’t a long term solution if you are planning world domination because eventually you will need to take on a full time employee, but remember even then your focus should be on doing what you love, not what you hate.
Do you have a secret weapon? I’d love to hear your experience of working with a VA if you do. If not and you are considering hiring one, don’t forget to book a Discovery Call with me to find out more.