The Ask Amanda Show | Episode #2 | SEASON 2

The Advantages of Hiring a Virtual Assistant

When small business owners decide to take their company to the next level they can easily get overwhelmed as their workload increases and they need a more varied skill set. That’s why Amanda Benson-Tilch, host of The Ask Amanda Show, sat down with Ashley Carlson of Elevate Virtual Assistant Services, a company offering the kind of administrative support that helps local businesses grow and succeed without the pressure of hiring new staff.

What is a Virtual Assistant?

The primary goal of virtual assistance is to help business owners and entrepreneurs solidify and scale their companies by taking charge of their growing list of administrative responsibilities so they can handle other aspects of the business. A virtual assistant, or VA, is a specialist who can manage the back end of your business, handle customer service and fill the responsibilities of other roles within your company so you don’t have the pressure of hiring another employee.

A professional VA steps in to help their clients:

  • Find their goals
  • Stay focused
  • Create a work/life balance
  • Focus on their area of genius

Why would a small business owner hire a virtual assistant?

Whether you’re a growing Santa Clarita business or an entrepreneur from across the globe, you may need help to practice optimum time management. A burgeoning company has a rising number of moving parts which can tempt an executive to juggle it all. But by spending too much time on the back end or handling administrative details, you don’t have the time and energy to focus on the duties that bring you success and joy.

“When you launch a business, you start small, so as the business owner, you do everything,” Ashley explained. “As you grow, your time and attention need to be more fractional of that whole scope of things … it’s just about learning where that is and where you can delegate and that way you can refocus.”

Founders of startups, entrepreneurs and solopreneurs reach out for virtual assistance because to truly grow your small business you need to be freed up to focus on the sales, on what brings in revenue – new clients and further growth.

What is a ‘discovery call’?

Similar to working with a small business coach or consulting with a visual marketing expert, the specialists at Elevate VA begin the process with a “discovery call.” The first job is to determine where you’re spending most of your time, which involves writing down your day-to-day activities and your to-do lists – both daily and weekly. During your discovery call you gain actionable advice by examining your to-do list and highlighting the tasks you can delegate.

They are sometimes referred to as “delegation strategy calls” because you’re developing new strategies such as areas of responsibility within your company. Your virtual assistant works with you to address your small business struggles and identify your primary pain points.

What are the main reasons that people contact a virtual assistant?

Typically, people seek help from a virtual assistant because they’re overwhelmed with their day-to-day business. The purpose is to reorganize and unload unnecessary burdens.

  1. Time Management

When struggling business owners or company founders are not reliant on an executive calendar, they find themselves double-booking and don’t even realize they’ve missed appointments, or they sit in meetings all day without taking breaks. One of the roles of a virtual assistant is to address the number of engagements a single member is capable of sustaining and other notable areas of imbalance in their client’s time management.

“That’s probably one of the things we do most for people and it’s one of my favorite things because a really, really crazy-looking calendar is like a puzzle,” Ashley said.

On the kickoff call your virtual assistant should find out what your ideal day would look like. For some it means a reduction in back-to-back meetings or a longer lunch break.

“We just talk about an ideal world – what you would be happy with, schedule-wise – and then we dive into your calendar and take a look at what’s existing and how we can change it to get as close to that ideal world as possible,” Ashley explained.

When Google Teams or Zoom links are involved a paper calendar isn’t going to work. Creating a digital calendar provides an effective solution to help business executives with time management. Not only are you keeping a physical record of your schedule, but you can also send invites to include associates on a phone call or for a meeting. You can attach anything to it – a document or an agenda, or if you just want to include some notes.

Your virtual assistant can access your digital calendar and easily manage the schedule for your whole team, resolving scheduling conflicts and lining up the most ideal arrangement for you and your staff.

“That is how you actually scale your business,” Amanda said, “by removing the things that are time sucking and giving them to somebody who you trust and is capable and has an understanding of what you want your day to be like.”

  1. Email Management

The kickoff call may include a deep dive into the executive’s protocol in opening and responding to their emails. “Sometimes their inbox is so full they don’t get back to people because it’s out of control,” Ashley said.

“One of my clients just won’t reply to emails because there are so many and she feels overwhelmed, so she just avoids it,” Amanda said. “It’s the biggest mistake you can make because you’re leaving money on the table.”

Virtual assistance specialists can develop a customized procedure to meet their client’s unique needs. After an initial cleanup of your inbox, they will unsubscribe from sources you don’t need.

“Really getting to where things are flowing, where if something lands in your inbox you can see what needs attention,” Ashley explained. “We have some clients who want us to check their inboxes every day and flag ‘needs response’ or ‘push it away.’ … Nothing is ever permanent, so if something isn’t working, we just change it and find a way that works.”

  1. Organizing

Whether you’re a Santa Clarita company marketing new products or a corporate enterprise with a powerful business model, you constantly face the challenge of keeping your projects organized throughout the process of growth and expansion. Many executives have trouble keeping projects cohesive and running a tight ship.

A virtual assistant can create templates for your use which streamline and tighten the documentation process. Using a platform such as Google Docs they can place them in appropriate folders to reduce the time it takes for you to search for them. It’s just a digital version of “old school” binders with dividers.

  1. Social Media Marketing

Elevate VA has team members who specialize in marketing related tasks such as social media management, blogging, and newsletters. The social media specialist spends time engaging with the public and works with the client to develop a plan for content.

Your brand gains traction through consistent exposure while you don’t have the burden of creating posts every day. Using their “creative marketing brain,” electronic arts (EA) team members have a specific skill set that enables them to design graphics that resonate in the marketplace, which an executive may not have the will or the experience to do.

“It can oftentimes feel so overwhelming to have a consistent presence on social media, so I know for me it’s been a huge relief to know that someone is creating something three days a week, five days a week, whatever it is,” Ashley said.

  1. Personal Assistance

One aspect available through a virtual assistant service is they can help an executive with personal tasks. When your business is on the rise and time becomes scarce, they can streamline your personal responsibilities to give you more space.

Some of the services your virtual assistant can offer are:

  • Schedule medical appointments
  • Make dinner reservations
  • Remind you about an anniversary/holiday
  • Research gift options
  • Purchase gifts
  • Book travel
  • Plan a corporate outing

How can someone become a virtual assistant?

Because of the flexibility of hours and the fact that the support services are done remotely, becoming a virtual assistant is a great career move for people who are staying home, such as parents with young children. There are positions where you can augment your income or dive in as a full-time career.

As a virtual assistant you help small business owners succeed through services from revising their schedules to email and social media management.

“A number of people on our team actually transitioned from a 9-to-5 executive assistant position because, for example, they had kids and they wanted to be able to stay home but continue working because they genuinely love EA,” Ashley said.

The advantage to joining the staff of a small agency such as Elevate Virtual Assistant Services is that existing clients are already engaged. The agency does the marketing, the billing, the contracts, etc., so a budding entrepreneur can get their feet wet.


Meet the Experts

Ashley Carlson – Virtual Assistant

As an experienced Virtual Assistant, Project Manager, and soon-to-be Certified Director of Operations, Ashley has had the pleasure of partnering with some incredible clients over the years. Being a part of their success has brought her so much joy, which is what prompted Ashley to create Elevate Virtual Assistant Services, a team of experienced executive assistants who can help more clients reach their goals, find their work/life balance, and get back to focusing on their area of genius/passion.

The Elevate VA team has quickly grown to include staff members from across the country, who all contribute to a supportive co-working environment with shared values including a healthy work/life balance.

Keep up with Ashley on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Amanda Benson-Tilch – Small Business Consulting

While you may notice her first by her wit and second by her infectious sense of humor, the next thing you’ll learn about Amanda Benson-Tilch is: She’s a problem-solver. Owner and Growth Strategist of Ask Amanda Consulting, she offers the skills, tools, and network it takes to get the job done — no matter the task.

Working with each client differently, she helps identify blocks, present solutions, implement them, and execute. And if she can’t execute, she’ll connect you to someone who can. She’s helped past clients improve their branding, operations, customer service, marketing, company culture, and more. She’s organized a company-wide rebranding and restructuring after it was bought out. And she’s helped local small businesses increase their growth without increasing the headache. From consulting to full-scale project management, Amanda steps in to help your business level up with ease.

In addition to her work with Ask Amanda, she’s also the Director of Business Development for Thomas Realty Co., a property management company in Burbank, where she oversees the growth of select tenants. Currently, she’s serving as the Managing Director of both Burbank Fitness Club and Burbank Center Apartments. Over the last year, she helped completely rebrand, renovate, and rebuild the gym, and she recently started the same process with their luxury apartments.

Follow Amanda on Facebook and Instagram.

About The Ask Amanda Show

On any given day, small business owners and entrepreneurs spend most of their time putting out fires, solving problems and asking themselves questions like: “How do I brand this? How do I reach more people online? Why can’t I break through my revenue ceiling and reach the next level of business?” They often feel like an island – holding it all together without support, clarity, or feedback they need to finally achieve their vision. That’s exactly why Amanda Benson-Tilch created The Ask Amanda Show. As a small business consultant, not only does she have the answers to the questions you keep asking, but she’s also created a podcast community that reminds you: You’re not alone in this journey.

Tune in once a month to get access to small business experts, nuggets of inspiration and answers to those burning questions preventing you from growth. Enjoy powerful guest interviews as Santa Clarita small business experts share their stories and provide actionable steps to help you grow your business. Whether you’re a business owner, aspiring entrepreneur, or someone looking to get more involved in your community, this is your show!