Advances in information technology changed not only the way we think of businesses, but also of the way we run them. With the rise of companies run by minimal office staff, there is a need for assistance in doing the nitty-gritty aspects of the business. The challenge is to do it without garnering additional costs and manpower. This is where Afortiva Virtual Solutions comes in.
Afortiva supplies ‘virtual assistants’, people who can do the kind of work that office secretaries and personal assistants used to do. The only difference is that you can access your VA anytime and anywhere there is an Internet connection. Founded by Gregory and Vanessa Misaghi, the company uses a very simple but highly beneficial concept.
While Gregory handles CEO duties, Vanessa, as Operations Director, oversees the daily operations and manages their working teams. Their VA teams provide administrative support and other specialized services to businesses, entrepreneurs, executives, business professionals, and others who have more work to do than the time to do it.
Vanessa explains, “Many clients realize that they are spending too much time taking care of busy-work that they can’t bill clients for, but still needs to be done, such as scheduling trips, planning meetings, researching the Internet for information, tracking expenses, paying bills and taxes, balancing the books, maintaining files, screening calls, and answering e-mails. A virtual assistant can save you time because you’ll be spending less time doing that work and more time growing your business, having quality time with the family, or just plain relaxing.”
Afortiva’s service is all about helping their clients, mostly business owners and managers, to concentrate on what they do best. Their clients have realized the importance of having someone outside the office handle all routine office tasks.
Gregory, or Greg as he’d like to be called, acknowledges that the VA concept is not that new. What makes their services different is that they have created their unique spin on the what a VA can do for their clients. He emphasizes that it is all about knowing what your clients need on a personal level.
He shares, “Afortiva is more of a ‘Mom and Pop’ shop. A small business for small businesses. In this model, we don’t want you to keep ‘returning products to the store’ if unhappy. We don’t want you to waste the time. Time that we have promised to give you. Have a business problem and need consulting? You need a service that you don’t see on our list? Let us solve that for you by finding solutions for your problems as if it were ours. We will constantly update you and call you instead of sending a generic email. Unlike big firms, we won’t let bureaucratic or arbitrary procedures limit us from helping you. You won’t have to talk to five people to solve one simple task. You don’t have to take two steps forward and one step back. These value added services are free and are included with the rate we charge you.”
In a Facebook conversation with Vanessa, she shares that just like a lot of businesses, they went through several transitions before becoming successful.
“I was into business development for six years. Greg was into training for three years. We met at a call center. When we became a couple, we realized our tandem is a good combo to start something out. I was contacted by one of my former clients from the US, and he asked if I can do projects for him. I took the job as a part-time thing. Greg became interested in it. And we both agreed, why not do this for good?”, she said.
At first, Vanessamade contact with all of the people she networked with from the US and found a way to secure clients. Most of the jobs theyreceived weretelemarketing-oriented.
She recalls, “We have only had two computers at home then. We did it ourselves. Andwe were able to hire oneyoung person to help us out. All of a sudden the number of clients increased instantly. They mostly came from referrals by my other contacts and current clients. Soon we had to move operations to Bacolod to accommodate those clients. Greg’s dad has an office there with six desktop computers. We borrowed their office at night.”
Sadly, the Bacolod move didnot work out well for the couple’s first venture together. Vanessa admits that labor costs are cheaper there but they had a hard time finding competent people to work for them. The telemarketing accounts also demanded too much from them and became too difficult to work with.
The couple flew back to Manila and resolved to reshape their business model and we discarded their telemarketing accounts. They eventually decided to focus more on the ‘virtual assistant’ market. This decision positively shaped Afortiva into what it is now.
One thing they learned from their previous work experiences is to identify what made both of them leave in the first place. “When we put up Afortiva, we made sure to recall whatever things we didn’t like from our previous companies, and ensure that we won’t do those things in our own company. We now operate in a culture and work atmosphere that our employees enjoy. They havethe freedom to be creative. They have discipline, and most importantly, they can learn alot from the online marketing industry, ” remarks Vanessa.