I've long been fascinated by the idea of hiring a virtual assistant, first after reading The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris, and then again when reading Michael Hyatt's blog post rhapsodizing about his VA experience. I had tried VAs but it never quite worked. Then a few weeks ago I read an article in the Wall St. Journal about virtual assistants, which mentioned a company called Zirtual.com. I was ready to try again so I signed up.
It took about 2 weeks for me to "get qualified" and then accepted, but I've been using the service for a little over a week. I'll have a lot more to say about it in a future blog post (so far it's amazing!), but for now here are some factoids about Zirtual. A January 2013 Venturebeat article and All Things D article reveal some interesting things about the company:
- Tony Hsieh of Zappos is an early investor ($2M), because he likes the company culture and emphasis on customer service.
- ZA's get 7 weeks of training on making customers happy.
- Service is invite-only because demand always exceeds supply of virtual assistants.
- Zirtual charges between $197 and $997 per month for virtual assistant services.
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Update on 4/3/13 (after 1 month of using): I'm even more amazed at how useful this service is. My virtual assistant has been given almost complete control over my calendaring, which makes my life a lot easier. She can call people to set up appointments for me and simply enter the event directly. She then emails me to let me know it's done.
Having a virtual assistant call or email folks who have forgotten to pay an invoice is a powerful way to send the message that you expect to get paid. There are so many other ways that a VA is useful, and no doubt each person will have different needs and find different benefits. I'd say for many solo and small firm lawyers this is a great way to hire a part-time, tech-savvy, well-trained "employee." If you don't like the service you just cancel it. Much easier than how it works with "real employees."
Update on 4/10/13 - My friend Megan Hargroder got a Zirtual Assistant, and her blog post offers more reasons why this kind of thing is packed with potential for most solo and small firm folks.