The most innovative business ideas are those born out of necessity. When entrepreneurs encounter an obstacle and recognize the opportunity to solve a problem in brave and creative ways, magic happens.
Catherine vanVonno, President and CEO of Marylandbased 20four7VA, faced just such an obstacle. “10 years ago, my husband and I had a booming business but needed a bigger team to handle our growth,” Catherine shares. Instead of hiring the conventional way, she and her husband decided to look for an overseas virtual assistant. They tried direct sourcing platforms such as Upwork, Elance, and a handful of others, and were sorely disappointed. It took weeks to find, vet, and onboard their new hires. And worse, they had to spend a lot of time training the people they hired just to get their work to a satisfactory level.
A leap of faith
After experiencing firsthand how unregulated the freelance marketplaces were, the vanVonnos chose to try something new. Instead of wasting their resources on freelancers that had to be vetted, skill-tested, and trained, they realized that they could hire and train their virtual assistants themselves.
And they did just that.
The little experiment proved successful and they were able to grow their business with the help of a small team of virtual assistants. It wasn’t long before friends started showing interest in their remote workforce setup and approached Catherine for more details. “I realized that there was immense value in the concept of an offshore, online workforce and began working on a staffing model,” she explains.
An innovative solution
20four7VA, the company that was born from this outsourcing experience, is a full-service virtual staffing solutions provider. Catherine and her team handle every aspect of the client-VA relationship — from recruitment and training to onboarding, monitoring, and beyond.
20four7VA empowers business owners by giving them access to highly skilled and college-educated remote workers at a fraction of the cost of hiring local employees. Its talent pool consists of pre-vetted, pretrained, and skill-tested Virtual Assistants (VAs) with excellent English communication skills and extensive experience in their areas of expertise.
It has been almost a decade since the vanVonnos hired their first virtual assistant and started 20four7VA. Since then, the company has grown by leaps and bounds. As of 2019, 20four7VA has helped over 1,500 clients from 61 industries, 199 cities, 10 countries, and 6 continents. It has also endorsed more than 10,000 VAs from over 200 cities in 34 countries.
“We aim to become the most trusted virtual staffing company for business services support,” says Catherine. “And I’m proud to say that we’re well on our way to achieving this goal.”
Empowering both business owners and virtual assistants
Unlike direct-sourcing platforms, the company aims to make outsourcing as quick and seamless as possible. Every virtual assistant in the 20four7VA talent pool has undergone a stringent vetting system and a comprehensive training program. The company’s services include fully guided hiring and on-boarding processes, ongoing VA monitoring, and an offboarding process that ensures data security.
20four7VA offers a free pairing service, which means that clients only pay after they have hired a VA. They also have a no-strings-attached 14-day trial period and a hassle-free VA replacement guarantee. Every client-VA pairing gets a dedicated Account Manager who provides continuous support and quick resolution of any issues. An in-house Training Team makes sure that all VAs’ skills are kept current. As a company, 20four7VA is as dedicated to its VAs as it is to its clients. “We want to ensure that our VAs are thriving,” Catherine says. “We conduct annual cost-of-living analyses, in-person town halls, free training programs, and other initiatives for their professional development.” 20four7VA also offers up-skilling programs for VAs and staff who want to expand their skill set.
A VA for every business need
20four7VA offers six VA service categories:
Administrative Virtual Assistants take on the recurring tasks that are essential to business operations but don’t require an entrepreneur’s core skills. These VAs handle customer support, manage inboxes, and schedule appointments so that business owners have more time to focus on the strategic tasks necessary for growth.
E-Commerce Virtual Assistants help business owners keep their online store running 24/7. Their tasks include product sourcing and listing, inventory management, order fulfillment, customer service, product review monitoring, and account management.
Podcast Virtual Assistants help podcasters grow their audience and business. They handle admin, content, and pre- and post-production tasks.
Telehealth Virtual Assistants provide admin and support services to healthcare practices.
Specialist Virtual Assistants help entrepreneurs with branding, marketing, web design, market research, and other business development strategies. These VAs offer a wide range of creative and technical services, including graphic design, content marketing, SEO, and social media management.
Construction Virtual Assistants provide administrative, finance, business, IT, and marketing support for solo contractors and small construction teams.
According to Catherine, who manages an all-remote team of 40+ staff members and over a 100 VAs, she started 20four7VA because of two things: (1) she wanted to help small business owners scale up without going into debt, and (2) she wanted to help talented individuals, especially those in places where good job opportunities are scarce, find work with honest clients.
“When I started 20four7VA, profit was not my motivation,” she says. “I wanted to build a reliable company that would benefit both business owners and offshore workers.”
Catherine is currently working on establishing a ‘mastermind group’ of CEOs, business owners, and thought leaders in the virtual staffing industry. This firstof-its-kind group will be composed of virtual staffing experts who share insights and best practices with each other with the goal of lifting up the virtual staffing industry as a whole.
As for 20four7VA, the company is ramping up its operations to meet a surge in demand for talented remote professionals. With COVID-19 changing the landscape of work as we knew it, Catherine says that remote workers have become more valuable than ever before. 20four7VA will thus continue expanding its services, entering new verticals, and exploring new ways to support entrepreneurs everywhere.