Melissa Smith matches clients to the right virtual assistant. She also consults VAs on how to create Perfectly Priced Packages. As the Founder & CEO of the Association of Virtual Assistants, she ensure that they are providing industry data, insight, education, training, and networking opportunities as the core benefits to their members.

We asked Melissa to share her insights and advice related to the virtual assistant industry.


What is a virtual assistant?

A virtual assistant is an assistant who works with you from wherever they are – not where you are. Yes, there are many different types of VAs. When I started in the industry almost seven years ago there weren’t any VA matchmakers. I was the first. Now there are several. The most common types of VAs are General, Executive (EVA), Social Media, Technical, Marketing, and Launch virtual assistants. Again, this is just the tip of the iceberg. If you can think of something, there is a VA that offers those services.


What are the advantages of hiring VAs?

I think most people look at hiring VAs as a way to cut costs which can be true. It’s less costly and more convenient in most cases to hire a VA rather than an employee. Most VAs boast how much time and money they save their clients. However, the real value of any assistant whether human or AI is the ability to anticipate your needs. Delegating and assigning tasks is work for the client. Having someone stay three steps ahead of you, anticipate your needs, not allow anything to fall through the cracks, and keep you on track is a priceless and very valuable service. To provide some perspective, the opposite feeling is being over overwhelmed, buried in work, having things fall through the cracks, and not knowing what to do next.


What might be the disadvantages of working with VA?

When you are not working with the right VA there are definite disadvantages. First and foremost you must have a proven communication strategy. Without it, it doesn’t matter how great the VA is there will be a major disconnect. For instance, if the client prefers to communicate via Slack but the VA uses a ticketing system and doesn’t like Slack I can guarantee there will be problems almost immediately. On the other hand, if the client is not the VAs ideal the work will suffer and once the VA gets a full book of business the VA will inevitably drop the client. You can prevent both of these situations pretty easily by doing a bit of research and having very candid conversations. When you are reviewing your potential VAs sites look for yourself. Does the VA speak your language? Do you feel like he/she is describing you? If not, this is most likely not the ideal VA for you to work with even though he/she is likely very capable in skillset.


Are all VA digital nomads?

No. I’ve come across many who aspire to be, but having the freedom and flexibility to do business on their own terms is the #1 reason for becoming a VA. More importantly, 9 out of 10 VAs enjoy the freedom and flexibility they started their business to achieve!


What advice would you share to a company looking for a VA?

Don’t limit yourself or your company’s needs. Go ahead and think big. There are VA teams you can hire when multiple skill sets are necessary. Also, don’t think in terms of part-time and full-time. You can hire a VA for as little as 10 hours a month. That’s another beauty of hiring a VA – you have more options and don’t have to conform to a traditional way of getting work done that is likely to be antiquated.


What are the skills required to be a valuable VA?

Skills will vary greatly based on what type of VA you are and what type of VA you want to be. I have very few technical skills. I’m not tech-savvy at all, but there are many VAs who excel at this type of work. For more on this topic, I would suggest reviewing the VA State of the Industry Report where VAs from around the world provide their responses on what skills are valuable as a VA.


How do you see the future of VA?

The future for VAs is very bright and better than ever. There is more opportunity than ever before, as well as major gaps in the market to fill. I explain more on the No Frills VA Podcast where I share my thoughts on the VA State of the Industry Report and specifically mention the opportunities available to VAs.


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