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Virtual assistant provides real help in hard times

James Chilton
Miner Staff Reporter

Sunday, February 22, 2009

JAMES CHILTON/Miner

With more than 20 years off administrative and office experience under her belt, Nancy Frye-Swope hopes to lend her services to local small businesses that can't afford to hire a full-time employee and provide all the associated equipment and office space.
KINGMAN - Times are tough, but that isn’t stopping small businesses and contractors from swimming against the economic current, aiming for a small piece of the American dream. It certainly isn’t easy, though, with business owners doing everything they can to cut costs wherever possible while providing the same services.

That fact hasn’t been lost on Nancy Frye-Swope, a trust officer and builder services manager at Kingman’s Chicago Title. That’s why, at the end of this month, Frye-Swope will leave her position with the title company to embark on a business endeavor of her own - Nancy’s Virtual Office.

Timely assistance

Designed specifically to address the new challenges brought on by the nationwide recession, Nancy’s Virtual Office will provide essentially all the services of an administrative assistant with none of the expense of actually hiring and providing for a full-time employee. With more than 15 years of experience as an office administrator and administrative assistant herself, Frye-Swope said she is capable of providing small businesses and real estate developers with a seasoned veteran employee when - and only when - they need one.

“Basically anything an administrative assistant would do in an office in house, I’m doing virtually,” she said. “I’m an independent contractor, so they don’t have to deal with payroll taxes, workman’s comp, any of those expenses. They’ve eliminated all of that expense and the expense of getting all the office equipment, software, office space even.”

Working from her own house in Yucca, which also doubles as a fully-equipped office, Frye-Swope said she charges either an hourly or discounted monthly rate, based on how extensively her services are needed. Frye-Swope noted she has particular expertise assisting real estate contractors and developers with the paperwork involved in property investment.

“The bulk of (my past) services have been helping people get subdivision approval starting at the local level here, and working all the way up to the state department of real estate,” she said. “I do the due diligence before they ever buy the property so they know if they are able to do their project like they wanted. I find out the zoning, we do conditions-of-title reports to find out if there are any encumbrances ... (I go) through the county to get plat approval, with the ultimate goal of getting a public report so they can get the sale.”

Help for startups

But Frye-Swope’s talents are varied enough to meet the administrative needs of almost any small business. Frye-Swope said she has already helped her sister and son-in-law get their businesses off the ground, and she plans to go out of her way to work with her future clients to determine exactly how she can help them thrive.

“I do brochures, business cards, fliers; I’ve helped them set up their LLCs, a lot of their marketing, bulletins,” she said. “Writing is another niche market I do well at, I’ve done a lot of press releases for people.”

Frye-Swope said she will typically work a standard weekday of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., but added that she’s willing to massage her schedule to meet clients’ demands.

“My goal is to partner with them, not do an hour here and an hour there, because if I get to know their business, I’m able to give them solutions to problems they may have, and I’m better able to market their service,” she said. “I’m a paper-pusher - and I like it.”

For more information on the services provided by Nancy’s Virtual Office, call (928) 766-2810 or visit [Link Removed]

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Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      (華娃娃) ChinaDoll wrote Feb 24, 2009
    • Thank you for sharing.  Some sistas here would like to start a bus. like yours.  Would you mind sharing more of the start up, ups and downs you have faced?  Hope this is not too much to ask.

      BTW, welcome and congratulations to find a niche in the market for yourself.  You go girl.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Nancy Frye-Swope wrote Feb 26, 2009
    • I don’t mind at all.  Startup costs for a Virtual Assistant business are fairly minimal depending on what you already have as far as computer equipment.  You do need a fully equipped office with supplies and there I had help—my daughter-in-law worked for Office Depot and she made sure I got a discount.  My most spendy items were the brother copy/fax/scanner center and I’m really happy with it.  I bought Dreamweaver Software to do a website and then found I was in over my head at this stage so I had to get help.  I really couldn’t afford to hire a professional to do my website and so I turned to www.vanetworking.com (VANA) and told some of the nice ladies I’ve “met” my dilemma.  They helped me out and put one up really fast.  I later had it tweaked and customized and accomplished this by trading services with a VA that needed a press release.  I bought Quickbooks but I’m a bargain shopper and found it reasonably priced on the internet.  I did get an extra phone line so I would have a dedicated fax line.  I purchased a desk and comfortable chair (Office Depot discount again) but many VA’s start out right on their dining room table.

      Now time is another issue.  I’ve put in so many hours getting started that I’ve lost count.  I ordered the Virtual Business Startup System from Tawnya Sutherland and I think that was by far the smartest $ I’ve spent so far.  The templates and forms and help I’ve received from that is immeasurable.  I “branded” myself with a logo and tag line “My business is your business solution” and it’s now on every piece of paper that goes out of my office, along with showing prominently on my website.  Marketing my business has been another time consuming ordeal but I found that I have a knack for it and really enjoy it.  I’ve listed my business in every free listing service I can find, including Craig’s List, wrote a Press Release and submitted that to several free Press Release website (that’s probably the smartest move I’ve made as far as advertising), I put up a page on myspace, linkedin, facebook, activerain, twitter, you name it!  I started a blog through wordpress and began submitting articles to ezine.com.  I sent my press release to our local paper and they contact me for the interview.  All in all, it’s been time consuming but what new business isn’t?  Tomorrow at 2:00 is my last time as an employee—my old boss has already paid me a retainer to do work for her so I’m very happy about that.  Take a look at my website at www.nancysvirtualoffice.com and tell me what you think.  If you‘re interested, check out www.vanetworking.com.

      Thanks



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      (華娃娃) ChinaDoll wrote Mar 15, 2009
    • Thank you my dear.  I hope other sisters here have seen this.  Great information and thank you again for sharing your path of success.



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