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How Aussie ‘Virtual Assistants’ can stay relevant

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By Derek Stewart

The world is changing at increasing speed. Some people are more affected by change, thus more alert to it. Mike O’Hagans article on September 20th about things western firms get wrong about offshoring, attracted comments from Australian ‘Virtual Assistants’ (VAs). VAs are one of most popular roles for people to try in the Philippines, so they’re more aware of the issue than other business owners.

Change is difficult. There is immense fear that Filipino VAs threaten the livelihood of Australians, being 20% of the price. Life is all about perspective. Change creates opportunity. The concept of a Virtual Assistant wasn’t even possible 15-20 years ago when a much smaller percentage of an Executive Assistant work was online, and everyday people didn’t have access to computers and the internet.

I encourage Australian VAs to embrace the same societal and technological change and opportunity that allowed them to create their job in the first place. Some feel confident that a Filipino VA cannot compete with them, that people prefer to ‘buy Australian’. However, this is not a one to one comparison. Many Aussie SMEs have a Filipino team on staff, and an Aussie expat manager. A single Australian VA is not competing with individual Filipino VAs, but with Australians who can do the client facing interaction, but keep their operating costs and pricing lower by having a team of Filipino VAs.

Aussie VAs have the perfect set of skills to embrace the changes in global sourcing to grow their business.Their attention to detail, process orientation, ability to determine specific client needs, and develop strong client rapport makes it an easy transition. Build a team of VAs that you manage to better leverage your time. Buy more hours in your day. Spend more time strengthening client relationships, being able to service more clients, offer new services and be more productive. This will significant improve the quality of your service and your bottom line. You can even charge your clients less, while offering them more value and being more profitable.

This is a win for everyone. Aussie VAs grow their business, their clients are happier, and they create more jobs and prosperity in a developing country.

This situation is not just true of virtual assistants, but any Australian business owner that has a lot of phone and PC enabled work (Accountants, Law firms, Marketing and Web Design businesses and more). The government will not prevent the change, as they’re ramping up their offshoring efforts themselves. Australian consumers have already voted with their wallets about how much they’re willing to pay to ‘buy Australian‘. The demise of Australian manufacturing, and boom of online shopping for clothes, books, music and movies reflect this vote. Australians will not be the losers of offshoring. As long as they’re not the last ones to accept it, understand it and create their own ways of benefiting from it.

derek1Derek Stewart – Aussie expat helping Australian and New Zealand SMEs set up their back offices in Philippines.
November 4, 2014
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