Make Your Life a Little Easier with Zirtual Assistants [Interview]

zirtual interview Entrepreneur and solopreneurs have a lot on their plates and, by nature, tend to try and do it all themselves. Hiring a full-time employee can be costly and doesn't always work for when you are self-employed or are just starting out with a small team. Virtual Assistants (VAs) are a great option since you can hire one at a cost that is less than hiring a full-time employee, while still maintaining all the benefits of having an executive assistant. That's where Zirtual comes in.

The company helps busy people get hold of their schedules by providing Zirtual Assistants (ZAs) who can help keep you organized by taking care of the small stuff. This opens up your time to concentrate on the more important things and find a more balanced life. One of the most noteworthy aspects of Zirtual is that they only hire ZAs who are based in the U.S. and are college educated. Zirtual also has the Plus Network for those tasks that need in-person help -- they have partnered with a variety of services including, meal-delivery, housekeeping and content creation, for those times you need a little offline help.

Zirtual's CEO, Maren Kate Donovan, talked to us about the benefits of using Zirtual's services and the future of the VA industry.

1. How does Zirtual ensure clients are matched up with an assistant that is right for them? What criteria is involved?

Our product is our people and since the relationship between ZA and client must be a trusted one (private information is often shared: credit cards, confidential business emails, personal preferences, etc.) we put a lot of care into the actual matching process. At this moment we have a dedicated relationship team and the process is manual, meaning when you decide to sign up for a plan you are given a series of questions, and based on your lifestyle, background, industry and needs, we create a profile for you and find a ZA with commonalities who fits your needs accordingly. It's almost like a date, it's best to know you have basic things in common or are like minded in some way before agreeing to coffee!

2. What makes Zirtual stand-out against other services that provide call-answering or online receptionists?

We are a dedicated model with emphasis on the relationship between client and ZA. This means you work with one dedicated ZA who gets to know you and learn what works best for you, and begins to understand your work flow and preferences. This is hugely valuable because, in an effort to save time, each time a client needs something done, they don't need to explain from the ground up, since the ZA has built an understanding and can be pro-active about tackling and making decisions based on experience. Other services tend to send a task out to a pool of assistants who bid upon it with no rhyme or reason as to why that person is qualified to handle the task at hand.

3. How does Zirtual Plus work? What are the added benefits?

Although we like to say that our ZAs are capable of almost anything (as long as it's legal!) they are obviously slightly restricted in what they are able to accomplish virtually. Zirtual Plus is an incredible resource for ZA's and clients because it offers perks and discounts to companies and services that function as an extension of our service and enhance the overall Zirtual experience. From office lunch delivery to book-keeping and transportation services, companies in our partner network are offered to our clients at exclusive discounts and work to save our most valuable asset: time!

4. How can entrepreneurs and solopreneurs benefit from using a virtual assistant to maximize their own productivity?

From managing your schedule, to booking your travel, planning sales meetings and doing research on an upcoming project, a ZA will work to streamline your success in work and life. Zirtual gives you more time to focus on the big picture by taking care of the little details.

5. Virtual assistants are part of a rapidly growing industry. How do you see the industry continuing to grow and change in the coming years?

Outside of many major urban areas, we've found that the majority of people don't know about the option to hire US based, college educated virtual assistants at a fraction of the cost of hiring a full-time employee, so there is a lot of opportunity to educate the public in general. With culture of work changing rapidly, and the ability to work remotely being commonplace, I see the value in virtual assistant services continuing to rise. In a world where our free time is such a prized commodity, the ability to maximize every minute and supercharge one's productivity for a small fee is very relevant.