Being a Virtual Assistant is What I Do, Not Who I Am!!!

When I started working in the virtual assistant industry I had worked as an in-house legal assistant for a very long time and had never even heard of a virtual assistant.  One day while home on unpaid maternity leave I had to find a solution to bringing in some kind of income to help my husband take care of our now even larger family.  I was searching for at home jobs on the internet and ran across so many things that were or seemed to be scam type jobs.  In just a general search for work from home jobs I found virtual assistant and that’s where it all began.

There was so much information on virtual assistants that it actually became rather overwhelming but I was so determined to make this thing happen and so I researched, watched various training, determined my niche, set up my business and was ready to be a Virtual Assistant. What I did not understand was that being a virtual assistant is what I do, how I operate my business.  It is not who I am.

Well who am I, you ask?  I am a small business owner who just happens to be a Professional Legal Assistant and Administrative Consultant.  I operate my business from a virtual “remote” location and that puts me in the virtual assistant industry.  According to The International Virtual Assistants Association (IVAA) virtual assistants are independent contractors who (from a remote location, usually their home or office) support multiple clients in a variety of industries by providing administrative, creative, and technical services.

I have clients in other states but the bulk of most virtual assistant’s clients just happen to be local. Actually both of my first clients were from other states and not local because I could not get around to local networking events since I had just had my 7th child.  Let me tell you this, the transition from working at a brick and mortar to working from home is no cake walk.  It is definitely a change that is unforgettable.  You no longer have co-workers in the office that you chat with and move your day along in fact, you don’t even have human interaction on a daily basis unless you have people in your home. Lucky for me I have a husband and seven children which means there is never a dull moment.  However, your computer becomes that co-worker that you tell about your weekend and have lunch with.  For me, work was really my social life, the only people that I really dealt with outside of my family so it was a huge readjustment.  Working from home is very challenging but it is definitely rewarding in the end.

I remember my first experience trying to obtain a local client.  I will never forget how he looked at me when he asked me what a virtual assistant was.  This was the topic of discussion because virtual assistant is not a common term just flown around as what someone does as a profession and I used virtual assistant as my title on business flyers, business cards and any type of advertising material for my business.  So I spent the most part of my time to market myself and my business explaining what a virtual assistant was and we both laughed because he thought I was something like a computer tech. I laughed because it was funny but what wasn’t funny was the fact that I never got the chance to explain to him how my business works, how I could help him and save him money.  It didn’t surprise me though because truth is before I actually did some searching on the internet I had never even heard of a virtual assistant myself.  He wasn’t the only one in fact, I found myself explaining what a virtual assistant was so much that I sounded like a spokesperson for a company called virtual assistant and never really getting to introduce this new innovative way to operate business or the opportunity to explain what I do and how I could benefit their business.

Bottom line, I no longer go by virtual assistant. I use my title Professional Legal Assistant or Administrative Consultant depending on the industry I am targeting.  This opened me up to the opportunity to market myself with a different approach.  Fact is, I am known locally in my field as being one of the best of the best and so my name precedes me.  So, when I am speaking with an attorney and I am marketing myself they hear what I am saying and not trying to figure out what I am talking about.  Not giving myself the title virtual assistant and using my proper title gives me more time to tell potential clients and colleagues what I do and how I can help their business and then when the time arises tell them how I operate on a virtual basis.  By all means, I am proud to be a part of the virtual industry, my business is new and innovative and has brought me much satisfaction.  However, it is what I do, it is not who I am.

Blog, Cloud-based software, Uncategorized

Is Working in the Cloud Your New Normal

Working in the cloud has become the new normal.  As a virtual assistant using cloud-based programs has also become my new normal.  Fact is, I love being able to access my files from anywhere, anytime on any mobile device or computer with an internet connection.  Life happens and with me being the mother of seven, everyday I wake up it’s a new challenge.  Being a mom first is what satisfies my soul the most and I love being able to go on field trips with my kids and be an active part of their lives which is why I decided to start my own business in the first place.  Not having to be at the office in front of my computer gives me freedom and flexibility to be that supermom and business woman I was destined to be. This same principal applies to you and your solo practice. I mean let’s face it, attorneys are supermoms and superdads first and then attorneys and this same sense of freedom is why you decided to be go into practice for yourself, right?

I am helping a solo attorney start a virtual practice and thought this information would be useful.

It is estimated that solo attorneys spend almost 50% of their time on things other than practicing law.  Reality is that in order to earn the type of money as a solo attorney that you would being an associate at an actual firm and to feel like it is worth continuing in a solo practice you need to dedicate at least 90% of that time actually practicing law.  Running a solo practice can be awesome, but it is not for everyone.  

Before starting my VA business I worked in an brick and mortar law firm for many years as an assistant to two partners who dedicated timeless hours to building their practice.  There are a lot of nuts and bolts that make the wheels turn for a successful practice like client intake, accounting, reporting, marketing, etc.  As you know, one of the most important aspects in the practice other than keeping your overhead low is having a good case management system.

Cloud-based practice management software offers several benefits that help lower costs, provide transparency to clients and streamline communication. Cloud-based practice management software can provide all you need to run a law practice from intake to invoice.  Some of the features include managing cases, clients, documents, appointments, bills, time-tracking, reporting and accounting.  There are many different ones out there and they vary in their compatibility as far as the features offered.  When selecting a case management program, determine your needs first this will save you on trial and error.  However, most offer free, no obligation 30-day trials so you can try different ones before actually making the choice on which works best for your practice.  If you decide that you like that particular solution you can make monthly payments instead of making large investments up front.  

As an attorney you understand that laws and regulations change and how important it is to stay on top of those changes. Cloud-based law practice management software stays up-to-date on those changes and allows your practice to remain compliant with the latest regulations.

The internet is full of information on cloud-based law practice management software. This article I thought was really useful and it gives you a comparisons on the different softwares.

If you have suggestions on the different software or have comments please feel free to share!