The way I see it…

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As I build my business, repeatedly changing the way things are done, revamping my website, and reevaluating every aspect of what I have spent so much time on got me thinking.  I have explained what I do to many people and most times I get the same look…and then inevitably the following question  What is a Virtual Assistant?  I am trying to sell a business not very many people have any idea what it is.  So I have decided to “Sell” what I do.
A Virtual Assistant plainly put is an Entrepreneur who works virtually from their office to yours.  Most virtual assistants have very specific skill sets that allow them to be an integral part of your business.  Some can create and maintain websites, while others can write newsletters, or create Ebooks, some are bookkeepers.  Every virtual assistant is the same while they are also very different.  They are the same in that they are subcontractors not employees.  They have their own office, so you don’t have to give up valuable office space.  They pay their own taxes, so you don’t have to pay the standard payroll taxes,and they don’t need medical, dental, or any other employee benefits.   They have all of their own equipment, so you don’t have to give up a spare computer for them, or spend a lot of money on computer software, and office supplies.  Some businesses employ several virtual assistants all with their own set of skills, some businesses may use a bookkeeper, a website guru, and a copywriter.  Some businesses opt to use one virtual assistant with all of these skills.  At the same time they are all different in that they all have different skills, or experience levels.  They all choose to bill differently.  Some will charge by the hour in increments of 15 min intervals, some may just charge a package price for a retainer agreement.  Some may give you both options.  Some are bookkeepers, copywriters, and website gurus, some are just bookkeepers, some may just do office organization.  Now the biggest question and most important question is how do I know I can trust them with my business?  My answer to this is simple, you don’t.  Nothing is guaranteed, and there is no way to guarantee that anyone whether an employee or subcontractor is not going to take advantage given the opportunity.   I have read where you should only hire an accountant to keep your books, or you should hire a bookkeeper who is certified.  Find a virtual assistant with references, or lots of customer testimonials.  You can by all means spend the time doing this. Keep in mind most virtual assistants are business owners just like you.  Trying to make ends meet, trying to run a business, trying to support a family.  They may not be able to go get a bookkeeping certificate in today’s economy but that should not mean they are not trustworthy.  If you want to hire a bookkeeper but you are not sure if they are going to rip you off I urge all of my bookkeeping clients to have an accountant,  I urge this for two reasons, first and foremost it gives my client piece of mind knowing that a trusted business partner is checking things out after me.  If I am going to steal from you the accountant will be the first to know.  They are tons of great accounting firms in the Capital District so if you are unsure of me because I don’t have the certification then by all means call your accountant and let them know that you need them to scrutinize your books for a while.  Then judge for yourself if I was a good choice.  If KBK Office Services doesn’t perform as promised then just like any of your vendors you find a new bookkeeper.  A certificate is not a guarantee that the person is not a crook, Not having a certificate is not a guarantee that the person is a crook.  The second reason is because I am not a CPA, every business needs an accountant if for no other reason than to prepare their end of the year taxes, 1099’s, and all tax related information.  It guarantees 2 sets of eyes on your books so that everything is done the way it should be done.  You won’t find your name in the paper waiting for a trial date due to a data entry error, or at least you shouldn’t.  Err on the side of caution, ask questions in your initial consultation, get a feel for the person you are talking to.  If you are “interviewing” a virtual assistant and your gut tells you this is not the person you should be working with then go with it.  You are the only one who knows your business, and what it needs.  If you are considering a virtual assistant don’t ignore the new business because they are not certified, or because there are no testimonials.  Ask for references, ask for a few of their current clients that you can call.  Typically if they are an upstanding person, they will have at least a couple you can call and talk to.  They will give you the name and phone number so you can “check them out”.  Use your own gut instinct, and keep an eye on them.  KBK Office Services, will not ask you for account numbers, or for signing authorization on any account.  We might ask for a username and password if you do a lot of internet banking, but most banks will issue you a second one that is strictly to view the account, not make any changes to it.  A bookkeeper can write your checks but should not ask to be allowed to sign for you.  All checks should be reviewed and signed by you or a trusted business partner before they are sent out.  I don’t need to be able to transfer funds from one account to another, I don’t need access to any of your money, I just need to know where it is going, or coming from and when.

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