Friday, July 10, 2009

Working for many or working for one?

Today at my new job I got to go to a Lunch and Learn session with Steve Kantor author of Billion Dollar Agent. Steve is not in the real estate business but is an entrepreneur. His new business is Best Agent Business which is a business that will provide a variety of part-time virtual assistants to replace hiring one full-time in-house assistant.

He had some good ideas from the book. Two of the main ones were finding your "unique talent" and utilizing your time doing that and also making goals and reviewing them constantly to stay focused. He said your unique talent would be whatever you love doing, what you enjoy the most, what comes most naturally, what you do best. Most people only spend about 20% of their time doing that, but you should try to make that 80-100% of what you do. I agree with that. And of course I agree with the goal setting stuff. My 30 Before 30 List is proof of that!

But the part about having multiple virtual assistants doing the job of one full-time in-house person bothered me a bit. Not just because I was just hired as one of a top producing agent's staff, but because there is so much intangible and immeasurable value from having full-time in-house staff. Your staff is going to know you, your business, and your brand better than any part-time virtual assistant would. They know how you think. They see the day-to-day operations of the business and have a sense of what other staff members are working on at the moment. Those pieces of the puzzle can have a huge impact on what you do in your role.

There is also a vested interest in someone who is working full-time for you that you would not get from a part-time virtual assistant. Your staff is much more invested in the success or failure of the business because it has a much bigger impact on them personally. They will be ambassadors of your brand and your business that will provide much more of a marketing impact on their spheres of influence, who would mostly be your potential customers, especially in the real estate industry because they live in your area.

One other thing I thought about was if the majority of the people in your market and industry were using the same assistants then you might loose some of your competitive advantage. If everyone were using the same marketing and same selling tactics then that would lessen your differentiation.

Also, what would be the impact on people who are currently working as full-time staff? Would everyone have to be scavengers and pick up short part-time jobs from multiple places and turn that in to a full time career. I think that would take much more time and effort on their part, and thus they should be compensated accordingly for that.

I agree that most tasks in today's world can be done virtually. With the Internet and the communications tools we have today there is less reason to be in the office 40 hours or more a week. But I still believe there is value in having full-time employees for businesses. I think having one person you know and trust doing the job has much more value than having 50 different "contractors" doing random activities that amounts to the work that one employee could do. Regardless if that one employee isn't spending all of their time utilizing their "unique talent", they still will provide much more value to your business in the long run.

What do you think? Have you ever been a virtual worker?


AnnQ said...

I agree about doing something you love!

And yes, for the last five years I've worked Virtually 2 - 3 days a week. I completely agree that there's few reasons for people to have to be in the office five days a week.

- AnnQ

Jane said...

Having always worked in either retail or research, I have never been a virtual worker. In my opinion though, having multiple virtual assistants instead of one full-time in-house assistant sounds like a recipe for disaster. Rather than there being a single person with the potential of making a mistake, there would now be multiple opportunities for error. I'm sure in some instances having virtual assistants is beneficial, but I definitely think it is not the solution for all businesses.