My Experience Using a Virtual Assistant

I left my role as CEO of Thomas Nelson in April 2011. I thought I could get by without an assistant. Boy, was I wrong.

As a result of greater focus on writing, my blog traffic spiked and my comment load doubled. I started getting more email. I had to book my own travel. I soon felt overwhelmed.

Initially, I thought I’d hire a part-time assistant. I even created a job description and sent it to several people I thought might know of someone. A few people applied.

But then I started counting the cost:

  • Where would I put them, since I work out of my house?
  • Would I have to supply my assistant with a computer? a cell phone? other equipment?
  • Did I want to pay payroll taxes and keep up with the paperwork?

So, I switched gears and considered a virtual assistant (a “VA”). I re-read Tim Ferriss’s excellent chapter on virtual assistants in The 4-Hour Work Week (see Chapter 8).

I had hired a “VA” a few years ago while I was still at Thomas Nelson. I did this more as an experiment than anything else. I hired someone in another country for about $10 an hour. It was cheap, but the service was disappointing. I decided this time that I would hire someone domestically.

I posted on Twitter that I was looking for a virtual assistant. Within an hour, Bryan Miles of eaHELP.com responded. We talked by phone a few minutes later.

I was impressed by Bryan’s responsiveness, personal values, and operating philosophy. After considering a few other options, I decided to give his firm a try.

Bryan assigned Tricia to my account. I was immediately impressed with her. She has worked for me since August, and I couldn’t be happier. People I interact with, assume that we are working out of the same office. She has her own michaelhyatt.com email address. I routinely get compliments on her responsiveness and efficiency.

Here’s what she does:

  • She screens my email. She checks my main email accounts, handles what she can, and “redirects” the messages that require my personal attention to my private account. She has reduced my email load by 90 percent.
  • She books my travel. She handles all the details, including airline reservations, hotels, car rental, etc. She sets up a trip in TripIt, so I have everything I need in one place.
  • She makes calls on my behalf. She makes appointments (both personal and professional), confirms my appointments, checks my voice mail, and follows up as needed.
  • She manages my calendar. Almost nothing gets on my calendar unless it passes through her first. We have agreed together that I will only accept appointments on two afternoons a week, and she works to stay within those boundaries.
  • She handles other projects as needed. I continue to turn over more and more to her. For example, she recently screened all the people who had applied to be a community leader on my site. She and my manager, Joy, ended up picking the final ten I appointed.

Basically, Tricia can do anything that doesn’t require her physical presence.

I started using her for five hours a week and quickly went to fifteen. I found that I was so much more productive that it was well-worth the additional investment.

Tricia has now become such a partner in my business that I no longer even think of her as virtual. She’s just one of my teammates—and a very valuable one at that.

Question: Have you ever considered hiring a virtual assistant? What would it make possible for you? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • http://blog.ramboruiz.com/ Rambo Ruiz

    Articles like this makes me happy about being a Virtual Assistant :) cheers to you! And if anyone here wants to know more about how a VA can help you please feel free to ask me as I’ve been in this business for almost four years and am currently leading a team of Virtual assistants :)

    Cheers!

  • Shellye Jackson Lyons

    Michael, thank you for this post. It is wonderful to hear someone give VAs the kudos we deserve! Most people don’t understand the concept or realize the value, especially with the growing use of technology! http://www.paradisesecretarial.com

  • http://www.ontimeva.com OnTimeVA

    We are a virtual professional company. Hiring virtual professionals cuts out the hard costs of labor as well as the inefficiency of employees or the downtime you pay for just to have certain assistants and professionals at your disposal. This translates to a possible savings of as high as 75%. That’s just common business sense. You can contact us to find out how! Shameless plug: ontimeva.com let us know your needs and we will be sure they are taken care of!

  • Michael V

    Thanks for sharing you experience to us, Michael! To anyone looking for VAs, check out http://myndconsulting.com They’ve been in the industry for more than 8 years and they provide skilled and dedicated Virtual Staffs

  • http://craftdemy.com Max@Craftdemy

    I have tried eahelp before but has since switched to http://vasumo.com and am enjoying it much more. My V.A. at Vasumo is more skilled, and much more experienced + the cost is so much more affordable. The one thing I know for sure is I will never even think about outsourcing to India or Philippines! It has been a disaster for me.

  • Jenny

    Michael, I just saw your post and I am just learning about virtual assistants. I work in an office setting now. I have been looking for a VA job but it seems like everything I find is a scam. Can you please give me some advise on where to apply for VA jobs?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I’m sorry, but I haven’t really researched that side of it. You might check with <eaHELP.com. In my opinion, they are the premier site.

  • http://www.feedcurator.com Larry Candelaria

    Very nice story. now i appreciate the benefits of having a virtual assistant i find it very helpful to open my own business. now i have the idea taking a virtual assistant and what are the benefits that it could take to me . thanks for that . and also if you want to choose a reliable and trusted virtual assistant check this site. Mynd Consulting they are very good in that field with awesome attitude. thanks for having such wonderful story.

  • Dianne

    This blog is wonderful! Thank you for sharing this with us Michael.

    I am working as Virtual Assistant from Philippines and willing to help business people. Just contact me via email dianne_bioco_a@yahoo.com or hps_dianne_bioco_aglugub on Skype. Thanks! :)