It’s hard to imagine that in just a few days I’ll reach my two year anniversary with Vicki Shapiro as my virtual assistant. I still remember feeling the pressure to get some help with my growing business but not knowing where to go. I knew I needed someone to help me manage a multiplying amount of details, but I was nervous. This would be the first hiring decision of my new—and fledgling—business.
- How would I find the right person?
- Where would I put this person? (I was working in a corner of the bonus room of my house at that time.)
- What if it didn’t work out?
My accountant assured me I was financially stable enough to make the hire, but this was my first open position. I wanted to get it right. I still remember talking to Bryan Miles about it. (He’s been a good friend, encourager, and wise guy—in the best possible way—for years now.)
I just about dropped by phone when he told me that he and Shannon were starting Miles Advisory Group (which would later expand into eaHELP). It seemed like the answer to all my questions, concerns, and hesitations.
Miles Advisory Group would:
- Find the right person based on my needs which they assessed and profiled.
- Provide someone who was college educated, technology-savvy, and had previous experience in a similar role within a corporate or business setting.
- Coordinate the first few steps to make sure it was a good personality fit.
- Teach me how to use an assistant. (This was my first time.)
Better than that, a virtual assistant:
- Eliminated my need to house somebody in a traditional office.
- Minimized my risk by offering a “Plan B” if the person wasn’t a good fit.
- Mitigated my expense by allowing me to start with a small number of hours which I could increase as needed over time.
That was two years ago. Today, I depend on Vicki for mission-critical tasks. She:
- Keeps my calendar (and holds me accountable to the boundaries I set—and often break—for myself).
- Coordinates all shipping details—from scheduling to tracking all packages.
- Confirms every appointment, so there is absolutely no wasted time. Every moment is maximized for running my business.
- Sorts through my email to make sure I only see what I need to respond to.
- Collects event details such as agendas, key contact information, location details, etc. If I’m making a presentation, she makes sure the handouts are printed and received by the client in advance of my arrival.
- Monitors my voice mail and responds when necessary.
- Performs any product or vendor research in advance of making a purchase decision.
- Interacts with the rest of my team around important details to make sure everyone is on the same page.
- Responds and makes initial contact with any leaders while I’m traveling.
- Books all my travel and calls every vendor the day of to make sure all the details are in order. She also makes sure that whoever I’m meeting has my travel schedule in advance. (Vicki will even reschedule flight details when I accidentally oversleep, miss a flight, or experience a travel delay of any kind.)
I honestly can’t imagine doing business without Vicki. What Miles Advisory Group has done is created a model that not only works but accelerates the speed at which businesses can grow by focusing on productivity. No one pays me or my team to be busy; they pay me to achieve some sort of defined outcome. Bryan and Shannon Miles have applied this type of thinking to staffing and create a dynamite model that works.
If you’re curious about learning more about new models of staff, you’ll definitely want to check out the eBook, 9 Reaons to Rethink Your Approach to Staffing.
What hard decisions do you need to make to create a more productive environment within your workplace? Maybe it’s time to consider a virtual assistant for you or your company.
Ben Stroup is a content activist in a post-paragraph world. He is chief broker of opportunity at Ben Stroup Enterprises. Connect with Ben via email, Twitter, and Google+. Subscribe via email to learn how to use content to move people to action.