By Rita Cartwright

A business owner with 1-4 employees or is a single-person business owner should have at least one Virtual Assistant (VA).

Virtual assistants (VAs) started out in the 80’s as home-based word processors or home-based secretarial services taking on temporary assignments from small business owners (SBOs). With the advent of technology, the first official virtual assistant was in the mid-90’s. Now the Virtual Assistant industry has expanded into an industry of professional virtual assistants partnering with SBOs providing them with services on a permanent basis.

According to Small Business Trends, the number of single-person business owners is booming, and they account for 78% of all U.S. Businesses (U.S. Census 2005 report). These business owners need assistance in more areas than just typing or word processing. They are becoming more dependent on virtual assistants for a wider variety of tasks and on a permanent basis rather than temporary.

Today VAs offer assistance with more than secretarial type of projects. They provide assistance with the mundane tasks small business owners are faced with daily. A few examples include marketing, updating websites, Internet research, submitting articles and/or blogs, writing articles and/or blogs, making appointments, returning phone calls, sorting through e-mails, etc. There are many uses for a Virtual Assistant. The time saved from not having to handle the daily administrative tasks can be used to gain new clients and/or retain current clients.

The first step in effectively using a Virtual Assistant is to decide which daily tasks can be outsourced. Second, establish a business relationship or partnership with a VA and, in turn, he or she will become familiar with the business and can anticipate the needs of the business owner. This will save time in communications, giving instructions, etc. In addition, virtual assistants are also small business owners, and they know how to operate a small business.

Partnering with a VA rather than hiring an administrative staff member(s) will save money and time. The cost associated with having an employee is more than having a VA. Working with a VA rather than a regular employee cost over $40,000.00 less per year, because there are no employee-related expenses to pay. In addition, it is not necessary for SBOs to train virtual assistants which will save time.

Technology and the Internet make it possible for VAs to provide assistant services to small business owners from their virtual offices. There are numerous ways of using technology to communicate; for example, Skype, e-mail, digital computer camera (webcam), teleconference or virtual meetings, video e-mails, Instant Messaging (IM), or GoToMeeting. If necessary, a Virtual Assistant can access the owner’s computer desktop using GoToMyPC in order to perform certain tasks. Documents can be exchanged using e-mail to send attachments. Due to technology and virtual assistants, SBOs are able to have the assistance they need without having to supply office space, office supplies, equipment, or software.

Every small business owner should retain the services of at least one Virtual Assistant on a permanent basis in order to have more time to develop and grow their businesses, add to the bottom line, close the next business deal, gain more personal time, as well as save over $40,000 a year.

Rita J. Cartwright is a Virtual Assistant and owner of RJ’s Word Processing Services, and she began her business in 2002. In 1998, she received a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Marketing from Arizona State University with a minor in Spanish. She is also a member of Virtual Assistant Networking Association and Oceanside Chamber of Commerce.  She recently published an e-book titled “Online Marketing Tools for Today’s Small Business,” and it can be picked up at More information about Rita and her company can be found at

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