Virtual PA services have revolutionised business support. One of our most popular services, we believe using a remote PA is a cost-effective, efficient solution. However, we also know that it can be hard to break away from the traditional idea of an employed PA. That’s why we’ve put together our top reasons why working with a virtual PA is as good – or better – than the traditional model. Read on to find out more.

Recent tech advances have changed the way we communicate with colleagues. In addition, working from home some or all of the time has become the norm, meaning we’re often in a different location from our team members. What we learn from this is that it’s completely possible to have a great working relationship with someone even when your desks aren’t side by side.

Get Ahead helps the working relationship get off to a good start too. Our regional directors (your first point of contact) will spend time getting to know you and how you work. With this information, they’ll choose someone to support you who has the right personality match and who’ll thrive in the environment you’ve created. This will help your new working relationship develop all the closeness of the traditional version.

Your virtual PA can work with you as smoothly as if you worked in the same office, thanks to platforms like Zoom, WhatsApp and Microsoft Teams. Faster internet speeds make real-time interactions easier too.

The role of the PA continues to evolve. Advances in tech clearly help this evolution (see above) but there are social factors at work too. With many businesses having a flatter hierarchy than they used to, PAs are less of an extension of the boss, and more of a responsible team member. This means that the modern PA role is easier to do remotely than its former incarnation. It’s time to let go of the old-fashioned image and see the situation as it is in the 2020s.

If you choose virtual PA services from Get Ahead, your new assistant will be based in the UK. This means you’ll be in the same time zone, making it easier to coordinate tasks, diaries and meetings. Most of our virtual experts have English as a first language, so you won’t encounter the language barrier you might if you used an offshore solution.  

The bottom line is nearly always costs. When you use virtual PA services, you only pay for work completed. This means that if your business only needs support for a few hours each week, that’s all you have to pay for. There are also no recruitment costs, pension contributions, sick pay or holiday pay – you don’t even have to provide coffee!

Virtual PA services from Get Ahead

If you think your business could benefit from virtual PA services, we’d love to hear from you. Your local regional director will take time to find out how you work, so they can match you with the best business support expert for your needs. And if you’d like to see how this works in practice, read our case study here.

We are delighted to open a new regional office in West London. Louisa Summerfield will be running the West London region, helping businesses from Windsor to Wimbledon to get ahead.

After graduating with a degree in Law, Louisa worked as a corporate solicitor. She soon discovered a passion for business and went on to launch a global fashion brand, specialising in fashion for women in wheelchairs. In 2012, Louisa discovered Get Ahead online and began working part-time with the flexible outsourcing agency, alongside building her fashion business.

In 2017, natural entrepreneur Louisa spotted an opportunity to bring several domestic services, including dog walking and cleaning, into one customer-friendly online solution. Working with a technical team, she developed a unique app that used GPS to match local people with a range of home services, including cleaning, dog walking, handymen, and dinner party assistance. Chores and Paws became a massive success in London, connecting local service providers with local clients.

After six years of developing the business, Louisa felt ready for the next challenge. She completed the sale of her award-winning company and decided it was time for something new.

“Having started several businesses from scratch, I know how exciting and rewarding it can be, but also how tough it can be. This time, I wanted to find a role that offered all the support of working for a business but the freedom to do things my own way.  Becoming a regional partner with Get Ahead was the obvious choice. I know Rebecca and the business incredibly well. I have seen first-hand how well she supports her Regional Directors, who are spread across England. Rebecca genuinely cares about her team and wants them to succeed.”

Over the next few months, Louisa looks forward to utilising her extensive local business network to raise awareness of our services. “Having been a small business owner, I completely relate to the frustrations and challenges of running your own company,” Louisa added. “I can instantly see what support business owners need and pinpoint the help that will make the biggest difference, whether that’s social media support, business development, accounting or other services. I love seeing businesses succeed and helping them on their journey.”

Our founder Rebecca Newenham is delighted Louisa has decided to become a regional partner and open the West London office. “Louisa has a proven track record of growing successful businesses,” Rebecca said. “Coupled with her deep understanding of our business and the value of outsourcing, I know she will flourish as a Regional Director. I look forward to supporting her over the coming months as she welcomes new clients on board. With offices in Berkshire, Bournemouth, Christchurch & Poole, East Midlands, Essex, Harrogate, Leeds, North Hampshire, Oxford, Southampton, Suffolk, Surrey, Winchester and York, we are well-placed to support growing businesses.”

Virtual PA services have both similarities and differences from the traditional PA model. Unfortunately, some business owners are reluctant to sign up for support from virtual PA services because they don’t know what they can reasonably ask their virtual PA to do. This means they’re missing out on some great support.

If you’re wavering about taking up virtual PA services, you’re not alone. To help you, we asked one of our virtual PA’s Juliet to talk us through the top tasks her clients ask her to do. We’ll also take a look at more unusual tasks and how to go about finding the right support to deliver them. Read on to find out more.

Top tasks for virtual PA services

Email

Juliet: Email monitoring is one of the biggest areas of my role. With hundreds of emails arriving every day, it can be difficult for business owners to pick out the most important ones. That’s why I manage client’s inboxes, monitoring the emails to make sure that the right people see the most important messages and action them.

I keep my own records as well. If I notice an important email has not been actioned, I follow up with the recipient so it doesn’t go unanswered.

Initially, I send holding emails in reply so the sender knows their email has been seen. As time goes on and I get to know client’s businesses and how they work, I can reply to some emails myself, taking the pressure off the core team.

Outsourcing email monitoring means the clients can focus on their core business, confident that there is a VA looking out for the most important messages and taking the pressure off.

Accounts

Juliet: Having worked with a number of clients, I’ve got to know different types of accounting software! This helps me slot into a new business easily, and makes me more confident about taking on a new accounting platform. I enter the right data into the platform and chase and reconcile invoices.

Many business owners cite finance as their weakest area – if you hate it, you’re not alone! Fortunately, outsourcing means invoices can be reconciled more quickly and business owners don’t have to worry about it.

Reporting

Juliet: Many of my bigger clients have boards of trustees who have oversight of the business figures. Part of my role is to assemble quarterly reports, pulling together information from other sources so the trustees have an accurate picture of the business.

Preparing for board meetings can take up a lot of precious time. Fortunately, outsourcing the quarterly reports gives you that time back.

Events

Juliet: I often organise events, training and conferences for my clients. I’ve built up my own directory of venues and other services to help the practical side of business events run smoothly.

I love being able to share my established contacts with my new clients. Because I have worked with many different businesses over the years, I’ve developed a network of events contacts which I use to support my current clients.

What about other business support?

Get Ahead has a wide range of virtual experts. Even if you have tasks that fall outside virtual PA services, we have the expertise to deliver them. For example, we might match you with Juliet (or someone with similar skills) to put together a conference or stay on top of the emails. And if you have other jobs, like developing a new website or marketing a new product, other members of our extensive team can help. Even if you have more unusual requirements, like collating notes from a workshop, we hope you’ll come to us – we can always find the right support for your needs.

Virtual PA services from Get Ahead

Our team provide back-office support so that business owners can focus on their core offering. And without having to spend their evenings catching up on paperwork, business owners regain the free time and flexibility that they were looking for in the first place!

Want to find out more about virtual PA services? We’ve put together some of our resources to help you – have a read!

One generalist or a team of specialists? – Get Ahead VA

Don’t know whether to outsource? – Get Ahead VA

A hand-picked team for your business support – Get Ahead VA

Hut22 – a flexible solution for a changing workload – Get Ahead VA

If you’re full of plans but think you might struggle to execute your business idea, don’t worry – Get Ahead are here to help!

Christmas is a great time to reflect on the year just gone, and identify profitable areas for the year ahead. If you spent Christmas dinner bending your family’s ears about your new business plan, your new year’s resolution is probably to put it into practice.

In this blog, we look at why it’s great to have new ideas and how to get the right support to put them into practice.

New business ideas are great!

The Get Ahead team are always meeting entrepreneurs and start-ups. We’ve heard some fantastic ideas and we love the enthusiasm of entrepreneurs when they describe their plans.

Without new ideas, the world would grind to a halt. From the wheel to the internet, new ideas have continued to drive civilisation forward, creating new opportunities and new approaches to business and everyday life.

That’s why you should never stop having ideas. Even if you know your limitations, or you know what barriers stand between you and how to execute your business idea, don’t worry. There are loads of resources out there to help you fill in the gaps and realise your dream.  

Barriers to putting your business idea into practice

You probably already know that nothing worth having comes easy. There might well be barriers between you and a successful business idea. For example, you might have had a cool idea but you’ve never run a business before. Or you might be so fizzing with enthusiasm that you’re struggling to focus on writing a business plan to secure the right start-up funding.

Alternatively, you might know your own field very well, but feel less confident about the other aspects of a delivering a project.

Some people are starters and some people are finishers. The starters are often bubbling with ideas, while the finishers are focused and methodical. The business world needs both types of people, and they have to be prepared to help each other.

How do you get over these barriers? Well, we’d suggest taking some time to be brutally honest with yourself. Accept that your business idea will need some hard work as well as enthusiasm. Identify what skills you already have available to you and be prepared to recruit or outsource the other areas.

Plug your skills gap and execute your business idea

If you’re a starter, you probably need some finishers around you to help you make your business ideas reality. Your best mate might be really supportive, but if they’re too similar to you, they might not help you move your project forward. Sometimes it’s better to choose people who are focused on the bottom line, who are not emotionally involved with the plan and simply want it to work for the sake of business success.

Practical support for start-ups

If you need practical support for your start-up, Get Ahead can help. Our team are all experts in their fields, including finance, marketing, admin, and social media. We can put sustainable systems in place, like setting up customer relationship management software and creating spreadsheets for you to populate.

We insist that every team member has at least three years’ experience in their field before they join Get Ahead. Many have more than three years! This means that if you get your business support from us, you’ll be working with someone who has not only built up experience in their particular skill, but also has wider business experience to share.

If you’re starting a business this January, Get Ahead could be the support you’re looking for. We strive to bring maturity, experience and perspective to every project, filling in the skills gaps and to help you execute your business idea.

To see how this works in practice, learn how we filled in the gaps for a team of cutting-edge software developers who needed help to market their latest product. Read our case study here.   

How to solve staffing issues is not the first question you want to be asking when you reopen after Christmas. Unfortunately, it often is. Christmas gives many people time to think and re-evaluate, with the result that January is often a key time for employees to give notice and start looking for other jobs.

If you’ve been thrown into a staffing crisis because a key team member has decided to move on, you’re not alone. In this blog, we talk to virtual expert Louisa about the problem and consider different ways to solve staffing issues.

Why is January a key month in staff turnover?

Louisa: I like to use my Christmas break to reflect on the past year and make resolutions for the next year. Lots of working people do, and it’s an important time in goal setting. Unfortunately for employers, it can also lead to employees deciding to take a different direction, leaving your business with a skills gap.

How can we solve staffing issues in January?

Louisa: It’s always a shame to say goodbye to someone with skills and experience that have benefited your business – fortunately, there are a number of solutions available. Above all, stay positive – remember that someone leaving always creates opportunities. For example, filling the skills gap could mean a promotion for the right team member. You could also change a process or introduce an efficiency.

When I encounter businesses with a skills gap, I usually suggest the following solutions:

Training and promotion

Depending on your business and your team, training up another member of staff could fill the gap. This can be a cost-effective solution, as well as creating an opportunity for an established member of staff to develop their skills. Opportunities like this can make your staff members feel valued and could help minimise future staff turnover.

On the other hand, if your existing team are already at capacity, you will have to bring in outside help.  

Recruitment

With an obvious gap in your team, you could also recruit a new member of staff. This is a good solution if you’re confident that the role you’re recruiting for is very similar to that held by your outgoing team member. It’s also good if your business is secure and you’re confident you will have the budget to cover the role.

The downside of recruitment is that there are costs associated with advertising the role, as well as time lost from core business while you follow the recruitment process. It’s also important to remember that your new recruit won’t necessarily be able to bring value to the business straightaway. They might need to learn the ropes before you’ll see a return on your recruitment investment.

Outsourcing

Outsourcing is when you pay an outside person or organisation to provide a particular skill or service. It’s a great solution if you have a short-term skills gap…or if you don’t know how long you’ll have the skills gap for. Unlike using a temp, outsourcing is completely flexible and you only pay for completed work. For example, if you outsource the outgoing team member’s responsibilities and then find that some of them are no longer relevant, you can simply turn off that part of the service.

If you outsource to an agency like Get Ahead, your local regional director will hand pick a team of experts to cover all the support you need. This means that you could spread one person’s hours across three people, and get an exceptional standard of work from each one. And if your virtual support shows you a more efficient way of doing something, you are welcome to adopt it – this could change the whole outlook of your business.

Whenever I’m asked to slot into a new business at short notice, I’ve learned to quickly pick up on the culture as well as delivering the best work I can. This means – like all Get Ahead’s virtual experts -I can hit the ground running when I start working for a new client.

Best of all, there’s no long contract, so if you unexpectedly fill your skills gap with a permanent staff member, you can simply switch off the outsourced work while keeping within your staffing budget.

Outsource support to Get Ahead

If you think Get Ahead could be the solution to your skills gap, we’d love to help! Get in touch today or explore our site to find out more. You can also find us on LinkedIn where we share loads of news and tips for business owners.