Rosie Shilo from Virtually Yours
In our interview with the vibrant Rosie Shilo of Virtually Yours, we talk about what actually IS a VA, as well as resources available to both Virtual Assistants and business owners looking to start working with Virtual Assistants. This includes some amazing courses that Rosie has created, along with books and workshops.
Watch the interview below, or see futher down the page for the transcription.
Transcript of Interview
HANNA: Hi everyone it’s Hanna here from Off-Site Reception and today I am talking to Rosie Shilo of Virtually Yours. Rosie has been with us for a little over 2 years and I wanted to just talk to you about what Rosie does, all about her and how her business got started.
So Rosie, you started as a VA?
ROSIE: I did! Yeah, so I actually did VA work for a very long time, it’s only been the last couple of years that I’ve kind of dropped back any VA work, which was quite funny actually because I was talking to a group of VA’s and one them said to me, this was early in the year, said to me, “So, you don’t work with client’s anymore?”, and you could tell that she was like, ‘why would I bother learning from you’, kind of thing.
Then she asked me a few more questions and she just goes, “Ah, you know your shit don’t ya?” I’m like “Yeah, it doesn’t matter that I don’t do that stuff anymore, because I’ve done so much previously”. I started 14 and a half years ago as a VA.
HANNA: Awesome! What made you get into VA work as opposed to standard office work?
ROSIE: Yeah, well I was doing standard office work. I was working in the disability sector and I was sort of middle-management, so a little bit on the floor, a little bit dealing with the politics and all that sort of thing.
My Dad actually inspired me to start working for myself, he was working for himself and he’s always been the sort of person who… he’d be like, “Hanna what are you doing?”. He doesn’t like staff. He’s like “Don’t hire staff!”. So he’s brainwashed me from the start.
He said, you know, “Rosie there’s got to be, you know with computer or business skills that you have, there’s got to be people who are running small businesses or businesses from home (just like he was) who want that help, but don’t to have staff”.
And I actually went online, and back then it was dial-ups, so 5 hours later, you know, I connected to the internet and there was, yeah, this small but growing industry of Virtual Assistants, and I just jumped in.
HANNA: Awesome! Beautiful. So for those out there that don’t know, what is your definition of a VA?
ROSIE: Yes, my definition, I love that you say that. So this is, I think this should be a more hotly debated topic, but I think a Virtual Assistant is anyone who provides business support services remotely, and these days that includes so, so many services, and we are talking really high end quality services.
Back when I started, it was basically formatting, a bit of design work, a bit of admin, transcription, and things like that. Whereas now, it’s just about everything, you’ve got all of the website stuff, you’ve got copywriting, you’ve got reception, which is probably my favourite!!!!, because that helps me heaps, and you couldn’t really do that back when I started.
But also, really high end design work, business management skills, all of that sort of stuff now, is virtual assistance to other businesses and so that’s what I define as a Virtual Assistant. It’s not just admin, and let’s not underestimate the value of admin anyway. So it’s not only admin, I don’t like using the word ‘just’, it’s not only admin. It’s a whole gambit of services.
HANNA: Yep. And I’ve seen you refer a lot to VAs as like Tradies. You don’t just hire a Tradie, you hire a Plumber who is a Tradie, or an Electrician who is a Tradie, and it’s very similar in the VA world, that we may be VAs, but we might be Receptionists, we might be Graphic Designers, we might be Copywriters. Just needing a VA is not such a specific term anymore as it used to be.
ROSIE: Exactly! Yeah, so as you said with, I’m always referring to the Tradies, and if I said “I need a Tradie, can someone send me a Tradie”, and a whole bunch of people came and I went “My toilet’s broken”, and they’d all be like, “But that’s not what I do, I’m and Electrician, I’m a Painter, I’m a Builder, you know, I’m not a Plumber, you should have asked for a Plumber”. So yeah.
HANNA: Yeah. Beautiful! So you not only support Virtual Assistants, you’ve really become a Virtual Assistant Advocate, but you also support people looking for a Virtual Assistant and training in what to look for in your Virtual Assistant and how to find a great Virtual Assistant. So you’ve got resources on both ends of the scale here, which is amazing, not a lot of people do that. Did you want to tell us a little bit more about the resources that you do have for both sides?
ROSIE: Yeah, so I do a lot of training for Virtual Assistants especially you know, people who are diving into it at the beginning. I don’t, I can’t offer training for Graphic Designers, or, you know, I could for Web Developers because that’s what I mainly did. But Graphic Designers or Copywriters or Reception, I can’t train in those areas, but I train people to start up a business where their providing a quality service remotely. So I do that end and I also connect them through my community with their peers, ongoing training in various areas and of course, job leads. So on the flip side of that, I love to educate the business community about how the Virtual Assistant industry, particularly (I can’t even say that word – Particularly) in Australia about, you know, what to look for in a great VA, what to do before you try to find a VA and I’ve got on my website some resources around that. There’s a short course, and I’ve got my books and so, I’ve got books for VAs starting out… I love books! The last one was for Business Owners looking to outsource, yeah so!
HANNA: And what was the name of the last one? You’ve got one there. What have you got?
ROSIE: Ah, there should be one here…. There’s a whole lot behind me.
HANNA: So, if you are thinking of outsourcing this is where to start.
ROSIE: So, here we go! Yes. This is if you want to be a VA. This is me with brown hair. This is me with blonde hair. I think I need to re-do my covers. If you want to outsource, this is the one and it’s easy to read, but it makes a lot of sense and helps people, so that when they are starting that relationship, because that’s another thing that I’m always saying is that, when you are outsourcing you are letting people see your business undies, you want to be prepared and there’s a whole lot of trust involved there and you know, there’s an element of planning, not massive amounts but there are certain things you need to know before you start otherwise, you know, you are putting a band aid on a broken leg and hoping that, that works.
HANNA: Yep. Yep. That’s a really good analogy of it actually. Who doesn’t love a prepared client, my goodness.
ROSIE: It’s so good for the VAs and the funny thing is, it’s good for the business owners because I say to the business owners, look for this in a VA, look for this in a VA and then I say to the VAs this is what I am telling people to look for so you need to be doing this. So, you know, they are stepping up their game and I’m, you know, kind of playing devil’s advocate on both sides to try to make it so people can see the quality and the potential that we all have.
HANNA: And that’s right, it is a relationship that you are building with someone. You’re not just hiring a plumber to fix the toilet once, and then go. You’re hiring to renovate your whole business. So you do need to have that relationship and that trust there.
ROSIE: Yep. Absolutely and that, yeah, that’s a key point of difference is that when you have a good quality Virtual Assistant they become part of your team and it is, it’s an ongoing relationship, so. Sorry.
HANNA: They are almost an extension of you and your business.
ROSIE: Yeah, so they’ve got to be the right fit.
HANNA: So, when, well just to give you a bit of background I’ve been a member of Virtually Yours since I started my business as a VA way back when I worked from the spare bedroom of my home on my own, and we are going back about 6 years now. Honestly I can tell you the growth in the business has been huge. We are seeing more and more VAs with more skills coming in. I do Virtual Reception, but I know that if I’ve got a client that needs a Copywriter I can find one in Virtually Yours for them. I think one of the greatest things that Rosie instils in every VA in her community is, ‘you’ve got to know you’re shit and you’ve got to be good, and you’ve got to be honest’, and there’s a lot of power in that, and it’s a very supportive community as well. So if you are looking to be a VA, join the community, everyone’s asking questions and people are happy to answer it, it doesn’t seem like it’s a competitive group. It’s a support group which is amazing, absolutely amazing. A credit to you for growing something like that, that’s….
ROSIE: Thank You.
HANNA: Yeah, well we are all doing similar jobs and there’s lots of Copywriters in there and there are lots of Virtual Receptionists in there but it’s never a competition. It’s amazing, amazing!
ROSIE: I love it! I’m so proud of it. But its, it kind of feels weird that I’ve created this thing but it’s only awesome because of the people that are in it. So the good thing that I’ve done is attract the right people, but then they make it awesome.
HANNA: Absolutely! So, when did you start deciding that you might want a Virtual Receptionist, what was your key point of when you went ‘Ah, I need one!’
ROSIE: I think day 1, I wanted one. But you know, it got to a point, it’s funny because I did Reception as a for a job for so many years, and I kind of got to this point, and I am going to blame Vodafone for this, because now that I’m not with Vodafone I have less issue answering the phone because my connection is better and I didn’t realise that. But I can’t completely blame them because even when I had the VOIP lines I didn’t want to pick it up.
So I think I kind of hit my phone answering quota about 5 or 6 years ago and it just got to this point where it actually was, and you’ll probably have a lot of client’s that will come through that are painfully like this, where there was a few years of stress around the whole phone thing, where I felt like I don’t want to make those calls, I don’t want to pick up the phone and it’s stressing me out, it’s causing me angst and then it’s impacting my business because there’s this kind of cycle around it where you don’t want to answer it and then you get stressed and so you don’t answer it, then you feel guilty because you don’t answer it and you know your business isn’t going to grow because you’re not answering the phone and it just gets worse and worse.
And it got to a point where I was doing some business partnership stuff, so I was working with another person and I had to just kind of call, well she kind of called me out on it and then I had to call myself out on my massive issue with phones. I had this big issue with phones. I can email or message until the cows come home and I kind of had this thing like, how does, I still don’t get even at that point, I didn’t quite get what the mechanics were of handing my phone line to someone else. So then I think in complete ‘Band-Aid broken leg mode’, I went to you, and even when you first gave me the stuff, this is how you do it. I looked at it and went ‘Oh my god! I don’t get it’. But then you held my hand and this is how I tell VAs, you need to say to them “This is how we are going to do it, here let me take your hand and I will guide you through it”, because you can’t assume that even if they’re really great at other things that they’ve got any room in their head to comprehend this stuff.
It might be simple once you know it, but we don’t want to know everything about everything, and so when you were like “That’s okay, I’m going to do these parts for you, I just need you to fill out these forms and I’ll do this other stuff here, and it will work, and don’t worry”, and then “this is how we’re going to do the messaging service” and blah, blah, blah, and you made that fun. From that moment on, it was, like, you are what I call, I tell people you need to be invaluable, right! And so, when… yeah you are! It’s frustrating because even if you doubled your prices I’d still have to stay with you – Don’t do it! Because it’s vital for me to have you there, because, and they that, not only that you did that but the ongoing support and the way my clients are supported and my prospects are supported, is absolutely AMAZING! And so since then, and you can tell I advocate for it all the time, because it took this massive stress off my shoulders, like getting point was actually a really horrible journey of stress which seems ridiculous but that’s sort of what it was.
HANNA: Yeah. That’s amazing. I didn’t, I never knew that it was that much of a stress for you Rosie?
ROSIE: It WAS! It was like, it caused massive issues for me, yep.
HANNA: Wow! So it…
ROSIE: Now, I’m like ‘My Receptionists are all over it, my Receptionists will do it!’. I LOVE IT!
HANNA: That’s awesome! Well the evolution of our relationship has started off, well we really started as message taking didn’t we? And then as things evolved and courses were created and books were released and new features and new memberships, we really just learnt as we went along didn’t we? And we sort of built our service based on the changes in your business, so it evolves with you.
ROSIE: Yes! Very much so, and I’m lucky that you guys are so on the pulse with that, because I’m not always great, I really, it’s on my to-do list probably for the last 2 years, message Hanna when you make a change. But I’ll forget and, yeah, you seem to know or you seem to work it out, or you’ll send a message and go, you know, “this is the question” or “this is what I said is that right?” and I love that, I love it.
HANNA: It helps that you’ve got a really, really good website too, because we utilise that a lot.
ROSIE: Ah, thank you! Yeah, you’ve got to have everything there, you can’t expect people to know the answers to, if you don’t know what your ideal client is looking for and have those things answered on your website, then you are just making it harder for everybody. And my clients, my prospects have a lot of questions, as you know.
HANNA: They do! They do. But valid questions too, I mean, people going into the VA industry for the first time, they might not have heard of it before, they stumble across Virtually Yours and go ‘what’s this I need to know more’. So, yeah. I mean from that point of view some people might want to pick up the phone and just ask the question and I think that helps rather than send through a contact form as well so.
ROSIE: I get a lot more calls, than those using the contact form, absolutely.
HANNA: Yeah, wow!
ROSIE: So, and so as you can imagine if I had to pick those up, I’d be in the corner rocking back and forth.
HANNA: You’re so busy now, you’ve got your books, you’ve got speaking, you’ve got your Mastermind classes, you’ve got your Stellar course as well. So a lot of your time is taken up dealing with your clients who are VAs.
HANNA: Mid-Zoom call. That’s a bit awkward.
ROSIE: It would be a bit. Yeah, exactly. No, when I’m working, yeah, I’m heads down, bums up and so I just, to be taking calls that are asking some of the same questions all the time would just be completely ineffective and then when I’m not working I’m surrounded by very noisy children or chickens or whatever it might be and so it’s not professional for me to be picking up the phone.
HANNA: No, you’re doing well. Are they all at school?
ROSIE: Well there is one out there. No, but Greg’s home, so, yeah. So if she comes in here it will be like that. The thing where the other person comes in and rips the other child out of the room. I’ve had that quite a few times.
HANNA: I think I’ve been in on a couple of those ones too.
ROSIE: It happens, but you know what? That’s part of what I do. If I show people that we’re human beings running these businesses and life finds a way, so that’s the life.
HANNA: Well, I might let you go, but if you are a Virtual Assistant or you’re looking to become a Virtual Assistant, or you need a Virtual Assistant, the place to go is www.virtuallyyours.com.au if you have questions you can call us, the number is 03 9432 6408.
I’m going to pop a few links under this as well of Rosie’s courses and books because they are invaluable. I’ve done the VaVa-Voom when I first started, it was before the time of the course though, it was just the book. So I can’t stress enough, that if this is an industry that you are looking to get into you need Virtually Yours.
ROSIE: Awww thank you!!!
HANNA: I think I’d be lost today without it.
ROSIE: Awww and I’d probably be in a corner without you guys, so forces combined we’re Captain Planet babe!
HANNA: We are! Good job. Alright well I’ll end this here and it was awesome to talk to you Rosie.
ROSIE: You too, see you later.
If you need an extra set of hands to help you get through your day, or you want your phones answered by a dedicated receptionist, get in touch today on 1300 39 30 30 or book your complimentary new client enquiry appointment here.
Find out more about Rosie and Virtually Yours in the below links:
And the two books we mention in the interview can be found here:
The Outsourcing Secret - Perfect for business owners looking to outsource to a Virtual Assistant
Reaching For The Stars - Perfect for anyone looking to start their journey into the world of Virtual Assistance