APVA Member Cath Harrison has been in business since 2020 and is already an award winning VA! As a seasoned Executive Assistant, Cath now supporting business owners virtually and in this blog she shares why business owners should consider hiring a VA over a PA.

The traditional role of a Personal Assistant (PA) or Executive Assistant (EA), often conjures up the image of an efficient full-time employee sat behind a desk in an office; typing emails, answering the phone, managing appointments and generally making the busy working life of a Corporate Executive or Business Manager run smoothly.

But times they are a changing.

In fact, they have already changed. Way before the Covid pandemic made working from home a ‘thing’, PA’s all over the world were going virtual. From office-based Personal Assistants, we morphed into Virtual Assistants (VA), and with this came much more flexibility for us VAs, but most importantly for our clients.

It is now possible to hire a VA to provide you with exactly the same services as a full-time office-based employee would, but with much less hassle and expense of taking on a permanent member of staff, employers and business owners should also consider whether hiring a VA is a better option when looking for someone to cover long term sickness, annual leave or maternity cover. We are often available immediately and can hit the ground running.

Why Hire a VA over a PA?

  • You only pay for the time they spend completing the tasks you assign them
  • You can book the hours you need, when you need them
  • No commute needed, your work will be completed whatever the weather
  • With a VA you don’t incur overheads or payroll costs
  • A VA can be claimed as a reimbursable expense
  • There is no need for any additional office space or equipment
  • You won’t have to pay any maternity, sick or holiday pay
  • No health insurance or National Insurance contributions to worry about
  • No coordinating your work schedules, with a VA you simply email what need to be done with a due date
  • No training budget or time off for training required
  • No computer software or technical upgrades to pay for
  • VA’s are proficient with the latest tools and technology needed to do the job
  • As an independent business owner, a VA has the ability to see the bigger picture
  • Most VA’s have access to numerous connections that can be called upon
  • You can have total confidence in the integrity of your VA and your privacy is protected under a signed Confidentiality Agreement

So, the next time you’re thinking about taking on a full-time PA or EA to help you, think again, as a VA is much more cost efficient and time effective. A freelance VA offers you a huge amount of flexibility that will benefit your working life and your business overheads.

Catherine Harrison

Catherine Harrison

Award-winning Virtual PA and Lifestyle Assistant

Bee-Assisted Ltd

Cath Harrison (52), Derby, has spent years honing her skills in administration, business systems and operations management to become the essential personal assistant that many businesses and entrepreneurs can’t live without.

Working since the age of 15, Cath has been a firm believer in grafting and working hard to achieve success. After an impressive career in the private and public sector at businesses including tech giant Hewlett-Packard, Cath honed her experience in project management and delivery, finance, operations and administration, and became the right-hand woman to her employers. A seasoned executive assistant, Cath blends business and life seamlessly, supporting clients with both business and home needs. She firmly believes one can’t thrive without the other and is the secret weapon behind many of her successful clients.

In 2020, at the start of the pandemic, Cath was made redundant and, having just started a new position, was ineligible for furlough. Unable to rejoin her previous company she was forced to consider her next steps. Inspired by her partner who owned his own business, she took the plunge and launched Bee-Assisted as a Ltd company and began her own VA (virtual assistant) company overnight.

Based in South Derbyshire, Bee-Assisted Ltd is a lifestyle VA / PA business supporting time poor entrepreneurs and busy companies. As a virtual PA, Bee-Assisted provides support with tasks that are time-consuming to business owners, personal lifestyle support is extremely popular. Bee-Assisted has quickly grown in its first three years of business, and has recently (November 2022) won “Virtual Assistant Company of the Year” in the Central England Prestige Awards, and also a finalist in two categories in the PA Forum West Midlands PA Awards 2023.

Cath now also offers support to new VAs and is a guest speaker at networking groups, in schools and other businesses across the Derbyshire region. She regularly appears on podcasts sharing her expertise.

Cath is a passionate advocate for disability support and improving accessibility, a cause close to her heart; her eldest son was diagnosed with hearing loss and mild autism at a young age and is now profoundly deaf and a bilateral cochlear implant user. Battling to get the right support for him throughout his life, Cath has tirelessly championed both getting her son a Statement of Special Education Needs (SSEN) as he progressed through his school years, and getting him support through an Access to Work grant which helps him in the world of work, as well as ensuring he has all the support he needs as a young adult.