Book Tour: The Commonsense Virtual Assistance

The Commonsense Virtual Assistant

The Commonsense Virtual Assistant

Sue L Canfield recently released her book, The Commonsense Virtual Assistant – Becoming an Entrepreneur, Not an Employee. Today, she’s stopped by our blog.

We’re especially excited to see this book published because tips and quotes from Rescue Desk are featured on a few of the pages throughout the book

Why did you write this book?
My husband, Joel D Canfield, and I co-authored the book to help newer and aspiring virtual assistants understand what it takes to run a successful business. Over the last two years, I found that many newer and aspiring virtual assistants were asking for and following my advice on how to run their business. Though they had the skills to be a virtual assistant, many had no idea how to run a business, write a business or marketing plan, how to market, and other basic business skills. Since my husband had already written a book for small business owners on how to be the best foundation for their business, we decided to add to the material and focus on the virtual assistant industry in our new book.

Tell me about yourself
I’ve worked as an administrative assistant for over 25 years and began my virtual assistant business in 2005 before I even knew there was such a thing. This past year I added virtual assistant coaching to my services to help newer virtual assistants succeed in their businesses. My husband and I work together from home along with our five-year old daughter in Roseville, California.

What qualifies you to write this book?
Joel and I have more than 50 years of combined experience supporting and operating small businesses. My success as a virtual assistant is in large part due to the advice I received from Joel. Our success in our businesses provides testimony to our qualifications.

What is the book about?
The book helps virtual assistants to understand that they are now business owners, entrepreneurs, no longer employees. Successful business owners need good business sense and a good understanding of what it takes to run a successful business. The book provides basic, commonsense information every entrepreneur needs to know along with advice specific to virtual assistants.

What do you want the readers to get out of the book?
The most important concept I would like my readers to understand is that they are now business owners and what that means. After reading the book, readers will have a clear understanding of how to set rates, manage their time, and market their business.

How can the readers contact you if they want further information?
Joel and I can be reached toll-free at 877.771.7746 or by email at They can also visit our website at

How much does your book cost?

Where can the readers purchase your e-book?
They can visit our website at

Sue, thank you for stopping by!
You are very welcome. Thank you for having me.


About the Authors:

Sue Canfield, author

Sue Canfield

Joel and Sue have more than 50 years of combined experience supporting and operating small businesses. They operate BizBa6 Small Business Support Services and love not only their work but the life it allows them to live. This book (Joel’s third business book, Sue’s first) shares how they think about business–it’s a ‘why to’, not a ‘how-to’ because it focuses on how people think and what they want–not just your clients, but you, too.

 Book Summary:
So, you want to be a virtual assistant. The virtual assistant industry is growing rapidly. Just about anyone can say they are a virtual assistant. You have a computer, internet access, and the desire to work from home. Voila! You’re a virtual assistant. But is that enough to succeed as a virtual assistant? Do you have what it takes to run a business? Yes, a virtual assistant is a business owner. Successful business owners need to have good business sense. As a business owner, you, the virtual assistant, need to understand what it takes to run a business. Pick up your copy for $19.95 at


Exploring A Career As A Virtual Assistant – Virtual Book Tour Stop #6

Book Cover - Exploring a Career as a Virtual AssistantMy VA colleague, Jessica Maes, has just launched her book Exploring A Career As A Virtual Assistant and she is currently on virtual tour to promote it!

Jessica operates a busy Virtual Assistance practice from her home office in Madison, WI. Additionally, Jessica has taught a class at the University of Wisconsin through the Minicourse department called Exploring A Career As A Virtual Assistant since early 2009. The class has had great response based on the ever-growing interest in the Virtual Assistance industry and the current job market conditions that have people exploring their career options more vigorously than ever before. Jessica wrote the book so that people beyond driving distance to the university can learn much of the same information she shares from the comfort and convenience of their own home. After all, this is a book about working virtually, so sharing the information offsite is a natural fit! You can read a free sample from the book by clicking here.

As part of this tour stop, Jessica is available to us today to answer your burning questions about the Virtual Assistance industry! Post your question by leaving a Comment below. Jessica will respond in the Comments section so be sure to check back!

To celebrate the book’s launch, Jessica has a few goodies to offer us. The first is a 20% discount off the purchase of the book. Simply use the promo code THANKYOU during check out.

The second is that one lucky reader will receive a free copy of the eBook version of the book! To be eligible to win, you simply need to post a question about Virtual Assistance in the comments section of this post. The winner will be chosen at random and announced here in a couple of days.

The book is currently available for immediate download via an eBook format and in hard copy. To purchase the book, click here.

Can you afford NOT to have a virtual assistant?

I have this conversation quite a bit with prospective clients of my firm. We talk about what’s eating away the hours, we talk about the benefits of outsourcing part of their to-do list to a virtual assistant, we talk about how it works to have a VA as part of the team, we talk about who makes a good client candidate for a VA and who doesn’t, and we talk about the goals the client is trying to achieve.

Then we talk numbers.

I have this handy little chart I’ve started sharing with potential clients. It’s pretty elementary, but does a good job of easily outlining where they’re leaving money on the table by not getting the support they need for their growing businesses.

This is especially easy to determine if I’m working with coaches, consultants, speakers and other billable-hour business models.

If your time is worth $75/hour, and you spend 4 hours a week on non-revenue-generating tasks, you’re giving up potentially $300 a week in billable hours…or $1200 a month … or $14,400 a year. You’ll never bill for those hours because, unfortunately, nobody will ever pay you for those tasks or the time you spend on them.

75 an hour





If your time is worth $100/hour, and you spend 4 hours a week on non-revenue-generating tasks, you’re giving up $400 a week … or $1,600 a month … or $19,200 a year!

100 an hour






Say you had a virtual assistant for $35 an hour to tackle those 4 hours of non-revenue generating tasks every week (or, for simplicity, 16 hours a month).  Your VA sends you an invoice for $560 at the end of the month.

VA 35 an hour




If your time is worth $75 an hour, and you just gained back 16 hours of billable time in a month, you’ve just earned $640 in potential revenue after paying your VA.






That $640 per month … or $7700 a year …. will remain out of reach until you have help because you’ll continue doing it all yourself. Nobody will ever pay you for that time or those tasks.

If your time is worth $100 an hour, you’re leaving more than $1000 on the table each month; more than $12,000 each year.

Business owners need to spend their time growing their business, generating revenue and focusing on their clients — not implementing their marketing touchpoints, maintaining their social media, sending follow-up packets, or handling other systems-based tasks. They need a team member who understands the ins and outs of small business, is a qualified sounding board for brainstorming and ideas, and who understands the goals that are trying to be acheived.

By investing in the partnership with a virtual assistant, these clients are investing in themselves and the growth of their businesses.




Thinking of becoming a VA? Then meet Vanessa Andruz!

Vanessa Andruz is the owner of Andruz Business Solutions LLC. She was an Executive Assistant for many years, but after turning 50, she became tired of corporate politics and decided it was time for a change. After researching different career moves, she found her calling and became a Virtual Assistant.

She had some challenges while setting up her business – her mother insisted on “helping”, her ex-husband Vanessa_Andruzgave her grief about quitting her job – but she persevered and now has a successful Virtual Assistance business. She has created a series of e-books (The Adventures of Vanessa Andruz) which chronicle her VA journey – ex-husband and all.

Rachel:  It’s good to see you again, Vanessa.
Vanessa:  Hi, Rachel! It’s nice of you to take a few minutes out of your busy day to chat with me.

R:  It’s my pleasure. Since I worked with you on these e-books…
V:  And what a wonderful job you did! I know Melodee wouldn’t have gotten these first three e-books done without the critical research you provided. And I know my readers will be thrilled with all the resource links that you found for the end of each e-book.

R:  Thank you. I’m glad I could help. Would you like to tell my readers why you decided to create your e-books?
V:  Of course! When I was thinking of becoming a Virtual Assistant, I researched everything – what kind of business structure was best for me, how to set up my home office, how to determine my rates, the best ways to market my business, getting over my fear of networking, and how to blog. It was quite a lot of work to gather all of that information!

That’s why I’ve created The Adventures of Vanessa Andruz, Virtual Assistant series. It’s a way to make the transition to Virtual Assistant easier and faster for others.

R:  I know you had some help with the writing of the e-books…
V:  Yes, I did. My writing partner and long-time friend, Melodee Patterson of Short-term Solutions did help me with the actual writing of the e-books. So far, we’ve released the first three e-books and we’re working hard on the rest.

R:  So there are currently three e-books?
V:  Yes. The first one, Vanessa Has a Dream, is free to download. It describes how I left my job and decided to become a Virtual Assistant. It’s an unbelievable story, but I swear my adventures are as real as I am.

In the second e-book, Vanessa Becomes a Virtual Assistant, I discovered my company name – with a little help from the Universe, created a business plan template, and decided on a business structure. And the business plan template is downloadable.

The third e-book, Vanessa Sets Up Her Home Office, is full of practical advice on choosing the right office equipment and supplies for your own VA business. There are research notes about computers, fax machines, scanners, ways to access the internet, and lots of other good stuff.

If a prospective VA follows me through the entire series, they’ll have a completed business plan for their own business!

R:  Where can my readers download your e-books?
V:  They can go to the E-books page of my current website.

R:  How can they contact you if they have any questions?
V:  They can email me and I’m also on Facebook.

R:  I know the series is about more than just becoming a Virtual Assistant.
V:  Oh, Lordy – yes. I thought I’d make the series more interesting by talking about other things that were going on in my life when I set up my business. Like my new-age, aura-reading mother, and my golf-crazy father. I can’t forget my best friend Marci – she’s a sweetie. I would like to forget my ex-husband Mark, though!

R:  Yes, they’re a bunch of characters, all right. You’re a real character yourself, Vanessa.
V:  (giggles) Yes, I really am a “character.” But I don’t believe you have to be a real person in order to create helpful and fun e-books, do you?

 R:  Of course not. I don’t discriminate against anyone – certainly not fictional characters.
V:  Well, you’re a very open-minded person. I appreciate that.

R:  Well, Vanessa, it’s been fun seeing you again and talking about your e-books.
V:  Thanks, Rachel. And thank you for all your help. I appreciate that, also.




Virtual book tour stops by this week – prepare your questions for VA Vanessa Andruz!

On July 3rd I’ll be hosting Vanessa Andruz as she travels through cyberspace on her Virtual E-book Tour.

Vanessa Andruz is the owner of Andruz Business Solutions LLC. She was an Executive Assistant for many years, but after turning 50, she became tired of corporate politics and decided it was time for a change. After researching different career moves, she found her calling and became a Virtual Assistant. She had some challenges while setting up her business – her mother insisted on “helping,” her ex-husband gave her grief about quitting her job – but she persevered and now has a successful Virtual Assistance business.

With the help of Melodee Patterson of Short-term Solutions, and the resource links and research that I provided, she has created a series of e-books (The Adventures of Vanessa Andruz, Virtual Assistant) which chronicle her VA journey – ex-husband and all. The series provides timely information on discovering your company name, setting up your home office, determining your services and rates, becoming a marketing maven, and much, much more. 

I’ve gotten to know Vanessa well, so if you’re thinking of joining the fast-growing Virtual Assistance industry or any home-based business, you won’t want to miss this interview!

5 ways virtual assistants can save your world

Awhile back I dove into a research project for one of my clients, digging up articles, blogs, white papers and studies relating to marketing in our economic climate. It was a great project. I read dozens of articles, blog posts and white papers, and they all had a common theme. Businesses should not – I repeat NOT – skimp on their marketing during an economic downturn. In fact, I read more than once that companies should be upping their marketing efforts.

Like a lot of business decisions, though, it’s very much a Catch-22.

Yes, you fully understand the importance of maintaining a strong presence in your industry, cranking out marketing messages, and continuing to earn (and exceed) the trust and confidence your customers have in you. You’re up to your eyeballs in ideas about expanding your business, whether it be through marketing, growing your team, or reevaluating your overall business model.

On the other hand, you’re feeling the pinch, too. You have the plans, but you don’t have the resources to pull it off. You may be running a bare-bones crew, and their top priority is servicing your customers. While they may be a well-oiled machine, they don’t have the time to tackle extra initiatives without compromising a little customer service. And that, as we all know, isn’t a compromise worth making.

This is where the virtual assistant industry is filling in the gaps. VAs make it their business to get clients through challenging times, which is precisely how we’ll save the world.

1. Marketing
You may heed experts’ advice and increase your marketing initiatives. Maybe set up that blog, redesign some of your collateral, start an article-marketing campaign, or up your direct-mail efforts. Who’s going to take care of that? You don’t have the resources to hire someone, you don’t have the time to train, or you aren’t sure you WANT the commitment of an employee. You just want someone to take care of these projects. Period.  Enter a professional virtual assistant.

2. Money saving
Any cursory research on virtual assistance explains how it’s a cost-effective alternative — either interim or permanent — for any business. Yes, you may pay a higher hourly or project rate than someone you may hire, but anyone with a lick of business sense knows it’s less expensive and higher-quality in the not-so-long run.  No taxes, no benefits, no space, no equipment, no unproductive time. Instead you get a highly qualified, business savvy, creative assistant with resources out the wazoo to help you succeed.

3. Going green
In addition to being the saving grace for growing small businesses, we’ll save the planet while we’re at it. You get all the benefits of a highly trained, highly skilled, committed-to-your-success assistant without the carbon footprint. We’re not commuting to your office every day, we’re using digital tools instead of printer paper to communicate and share files, we recycle our systems and turn them into energy-efficient (meaning we’re saving your energy!) processes for our clients, and we reduce wasted time by only working when you need it. Of course, like any conscientious small-business owner, almost all VAs are smart about their own recycling and energy useage.

4. A virtual business model to put your best face forward
A trend that is taking hold in the world of growing small businesses is the development of the virtual business model … where almost the entire team is comprised of outside contractors. By partnering with vendors such as virtual assistants, outsiders looking in will see a well-oiled team behind your logo. Clients get stellar customer service, prospects are marketed to like larger organizations, and your business reacts to market conditions quickly and seamlessly to meet the changing needs of your clients.   All this, even if the reality is you’re working from your home office, your VA is working from her office,  your bookkeeper working from his office, your outsourced sales people working from their offices….

5.  Setting you up for success during the upturn
Most of the business experts agree … now is the time to position yourself for the economic upswing. While it may not feel like it today, the uptick will come – history has proven that it always has. So, investing in a virtual assistant will help you get your business lined up for the ride. By letting someone else worry about the day-to-day details of your business, you can focus on longer-term goals and projects that will position you for success in the not-so-distant future. If you don’t take the time now to explore new and innovative ways to continue differentiating yourself and growing your business, you’ll be sorely behind the curve when the economy starts sweeping upwards.



Leaning forward

In recent weeks, I’ve once again found myself leaning uncomfortably forward. As a small-business owner, though, I’m getting used to the feeling. That feeling that comes with knowing I’m doing something a little bit risky, a little bit unpredictable, a little bit exciting, and a little bit uncomfortable.

The feeling I might … just might … be leaning far enough forward that there’s a chance I may tip over.

Rescue Desk has been progressing beautifully since its launch more than a year ago, and I couldn’t be more pleased. The plan has always been to continue growing … growing the types of services, growing my firm’s footprint in the local community, growing the Rescue Desk team, growing in my role as entrepreneur. All are on track to … well … grow.

These goals aren’t anything new. I’m not the first business owner with lofty goals, and I certainly won’t be the last.

For my VA firm to expand, my plan has always been to eventually pack up shop and move headquarters from my home office into the local business community – a la Microsoft moving out of Bill Gate’s garage, or Google moving out of the founders’ dorm rooms.

I had visions of moving into a funky little artist studio that would be the hub of my practice. A place where my VA team would virtually gather for teleconferences and Webinars;  a place where my clients  could see where their assistant takes care of their business; a place that gives a public personality to my scrappy little company; a place that would be the perfect stepping stone to the next logical step … an even larger funky artist studio.

So, I started digging into finding that artsy-fartsy little space that would personify Rescue Desk.  I chatted with local business-owner friends with similar service-based business models, I weighed the pros and cons about the timing of this decision, and I picked the brains of the commercial-office agents in my networking groups. I made appointments to see some little spaces around town.

One of the very first places I poked my head into was “it.”

It was little rough around the edges, as was to be expected from the spaces in an old converted warehouse.  But I didn’t have to think very hard to envision the paint color, the art on the wall, the feng-shui-placed furniture,  and where my dog would spend her days. Gigantic skylights let in more light than I’d know what to do with, the old-school track lighting was reminiscent of an old art gallery, and the hardwood floors were worn down by (what I like to think) were a long line of creative types like me.

Two weeks ago, I moved in.

A year ago if you would’ve told me my  firm would be the proud leasee on commercial office space, I never would’ve believed it. So, once again I was reminded of an important lesson — never, ever, ever assume you know which direction your business — or your life — will take you.

It’s vital to keep learning forward. It’s not always comfortable … hell, most of the time it’s downright scary. But the payoff is looking back at what you’ve leaned into and thinking “Remember how I felt when (insert risky move here)… ” and the moment of pride that comes when you recognize your accomplishment.

The funky little 400 square feet of inner warehouse that has my name on the door is what I’m leaning into… for now, anyway. Knowing what I know about leaning forward, I can’t wait to look back on my next moving day (into the aforementioned bigger, funkier studio) and think “Remember that first, tiny little space where Rescue Desk was headquartered?”