Not so long ago, I had a fairly drawn out Facebook 'discussion' with the Administrator of a Facebook group for Australian Businesses with over 3000 members who, in a post, described VAs as being "typically overseas, in countries like the Philippines".
As someone who works very closely with the Australian VA Industry, his post was almost like a slap in the face. Yet, it also served to highlight something very important that I’ve been saying for a very long time, and that is that by far the biggest hurdle we as an industry face is the need to educate our Australian business owners about the opportunities they can harness by utilising the growing and relevant onshore VA Industry.
So, let’s unpack this a little shall we… let’s ask the obvious question - why would anyone choose to engage a VA anyway?
The biggest reason for small business owners is that they simply cannot – or do not have the required skills to – do all the back-end admin. Sure, they’re great at building their business, but sometimes not so great at doing the ‘client care’ tasks, setting up administrative processes and procedures and being on top of the game when it comes to innovative and lean approaches. So, the fact is that they really do NEED someone to take over so that they can get on with what they do best, which is growing the business.
The second most obvious reason for wanting to work with a VA would be that for many small and startup businesses, they often operate ‘virtually’ themselves – or out of co-working spaces, or even from home. They don’t have the space or need for full-time onsite staff, and so they are looking for other alternatives, and a VA can certainly be just the ticket.
Perhaps these business owners are experiencing rapid growth, or even a downturn, and simply don’t want to commit to taking on an employee.
Once a business owner has decided they need some support, they then face the challenge of actually finding one – and that’s where the VA Industry in Australia needs to get really good at.
In my experience, I find that people who are shopping for VAs in places like the Philippines are doing so because:
They thought that’s the only place where VAs can be found, or
They have decided (for whatever reason) that they can’t afford an Aussie VA and are therefore searching for a cheaper alternative.
To be honest, if the client is using price as the defining factor in their decision to use Offshore VAs, then they’re not my ideal client anyway, so there’s really no point even continuing the conversation, despite the fact that I know and can show business owners how much money can be saved by choosing to work with Australian VA support when compared to employing staff (full time or part time).
However, if that’s not the critical consideration, then we can explore the Onshore vs Offshore debate in a little more detail.
So, what can an Onshore VA do that an Offshore VA can’t? In truth, probably nothing. But, to really get down to the nitty-gritty, the next question we should be asking is ‘What can an Onshore VA do much better than an Offshore VA’, and that’s where you’ll find the hidden gold – and it’s something that Aussie businesses who use Australian VAs totally understand.
Quality Certified Australian VAs are:
Business savvy (they run their own business after all, and can certainly help you run yours);
Cognisant of our unique Aussie business culture, and able to operate in it with skill;
Able to speak Australian English (and understand the nuances that only us Aussies truly ‘get’), which also means that you can trust them to speak to your clients in many situations – and in fact, that’s something I have done for years in my own VA business;
Based in your time zone – and therefore available and operating when you work (in standard business hours);
Insured (as all businesses should be!);
Invested in your outcomes - your success is important to them.
Working with a VA can be a very liberating experience – one that frees you up from the everyday administrivia that is part and parcel of running a small business, allowing you to focus on what you do best – drive business growth.
You can find an amazing Australian Virtual Assistant through www.findava.com.au - it’s a free servicer and it’s designed to link you up with quality VA operators, many of whom have come through the VA Institute VA Startup Program - www.vainstitute.com.au