I love Rose’s advice on how clients can determine what and when to delegate. As a virtual assistant, it is extremely important to also help clients identify what they truly need, and ultimately help in growing their business; Rose is definitely doing that well!
Rose Donnelly is a Virtual Assistant based in Crystal Palace, South-East London. Rose has over 25 years’ administrative experience and worked as an EA in the legal and medical research charity sectors for more than 20 years. After being made redundant in late 2015, and deciding that she wanted more flexibility in her working life, she took the plunge and set up her Virtual Assistant business, RED Virtual Solutions.
She now supports (mainly) female entrepreneurs and third sector organisations who need flexible yet professional support. She prides herself on working in partnership with her clients, taking the time to get to know their working style and needs, offering honest advice and feedback and providing a platform for them to brainstorm ideas and strategy. She is also a whizz at transcription and provides proofreading and content-writing services to several of her clients.
Rose loves the partnership-style working that being a Virtual Assistant brings, and feels that she is really making a difference to her clients’ working lives and businesses. She is an accredited member of VIP VA and a community member of the Society of Virtual Assistants. She is a regional ambassador for VIP VA, covering the Surrey and South East London region.
What are your main strengths as an Executive Virtual Assistant for a Chief Executive?
When I was EA to a CEO, I contributed to the smooth running of his daily activities by being a professional, supportive and positive gatekeeper, representing him both internally and to external organisations. As well as providing a full administrative and support service to him, I worked very closely with the other directors and their EAs to support the organisation’s work. I proactively identified matters of importance and concern and brought them to the CEO’s attention as and when appropriate, but also used my own judgement and initiative in handling queries on his behalf.
What is a typical day like for you?
No day is typical! Although I do have some very regular client bookings, these can vary from week to week. I sit down on Sunday evenings and plan the week, ensuring that I have allocated some time each day to spend on my own business (checking emails, updating finances, invoicing, writing blog posts, marketing, online networking, etc). I tend to do this work first thing, between 7:30am and 9:30am, and then client work between 10:00am and 6:00pm.
My client work can include transcription, writing content for websites or marketing materials, proofreading and editing, sourcing gardeners (and plants) for garden makeovers, planning office moves, planning staff conferences, writing and giving presentations to staff, updating/creating policies and procedures, creating contacts databases and much more. I have a Virtual Assistant Success Buddy with whom I have a Skype call every week – this is our opportunity to discuss workloads, be accountable to each other, support each other and offer advice if needed. I also volunteer at my local hospice once a week, which helps to keep me grounded and keep a sense of perspective.
How do you begin to assess what specific services your client would greatly benefit from if they are unsure of what they need?
My advice that I usually give to people who are thinking about employing a Virtual Assistant is as follows:
- Write down everything you do over the next week.
- Mark in red everything only you (or another professional like your accountant, web developer, etc.) is able to do.
- Next, mark in blue those things that you will probably keep doing for now but might think about delegating later.
- Everything else on the list can usually be outsourced (to a VA). NB You don’t have to colour-code everything – use whatever system works best for you! Another way of looking at it is:
- Write down every task you do that takes longer than half an hour.
- Highlight the tasks that you don’t enjoy or don’t have to do yourself.
- Write down the things you want to do but don’t have time for – such as business development, giving existing clients more value, spending more time with your family, writing an eBook, developing a new product or service etc.
- Think about whether a Virtual Assistant can do some of those things for you, or free you up to do those things yourself. Think about what your core role is; what it is you actually do – and love to do, what your value to your clients is, and why you went into business in the first place. It is my job to enable you to do that. Remember! The purpose of a Virtual Assistant is to make you money, save you money, save you time, or even save your sanity!
What service packages do your clients usually get from you, and how do these benefit you in general?Learn to look after yourself and your business. Click To Tweet
My clients tend to work with me in one of three ways – either they use my services on an ad-hoc basis for which they pay per hour; or they pay for a block of five or ten hours which must be used within a certain time frame; or they pay a regular monthly retainer for an agreed number of hours. I like to have a mixture of these – for example, I am currently working with two regular retainer clients and the majority of my working hours are ‘booked’ to them, but I also have a number of hours per week that I can dedicate to the ad-hoc clients who may send me an email on a Monday asking if I am able to complete a task for them at some point during that week.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I have been doing aerial arts for 16 years – principally static trapeze and aerial hoop and I am part of a performance group. We are working on a new show and at the moment much of my spare time is taken up with research, development and rehearsals for this.
Can you tell us a story of when you spoke up and contradicted a boss? How did it impact you and your work?
I have had to do this on several occasions. If you do it tactfully and present your case in a reasonable manner, with evidence to back up what you are saying, it will usually lead to a fruitful discussion and increased respect between both parties.
What key lesson have you learned from a client that you would like to impart to your fellow VAs?
Learn to look after yourself and your business as well as look after your clients and their businesses.