How We Got Started – About Us

Tim Barrie Owner, Founder Smart VA Staffing Agency.

As an international business development manager working for Intel Corporation, Tim Barrie (our Founder) hired many people from different countries. Part of his job at Intel was to aid other companies (Intel dealers and partners) to be successful. As time went on he discovered many secrets for accelerating the growth ramp of small businesses.

One of those secrets that was particularly effective and repeatable was in hiring and managing a team of off-shore workers. Leveraging the extreme cost differential of offshore workers to boost utility. This is because boosting productivity, whilst at the same time lowering costs, can become the cornerstone of any company’s likelihood of success.

The term “virtual assistants” can be a little misleading. What is really happening is that the company is in the business of providing real, full-time, long-term employees. It’s just that the cost of those employees is dramatically lower than hiring locally in the U.S.

Office administrative staff, sales teams, and technical development departments all worked well through this model, producing similar competitive advantages.  Sure, there were missteps and learnings along the way, in the long run, however, the gains were clear.

Over the course of working for and owning several businesses, Tim introduced offshore workers. Due to repeated successes, Tim realized that the staffing process itself could be a valuable business.

In 2011 Tim began formally offering “staffing agency” style offshore hiring services to other companies. Today, these offshore workers are commonly referred to as virtual assistants. The term “virtual assistants” is, however, misleading.

What is really happening is that the service is in the business of providing real, full-time, long-term employees. These employees are every bit as good as local U.S. hires. Arguably, in a lot of circumstances, better. They just happen to be remote, in another country.

Thanks to the internet and the computer revolution, working remotely is not only a viable but often a better solution. Removing things like wasted travel time, wasted time through office chatter and distractions, and of course, the dreaded office politics. Counter-intuitively, Tim discovered that remote workers, staff working from home, will more often than not put in more time working, not less time. Part of the reason for this is that they usually have the ability to work at times of the day that suit them.

Tim found that the most value was provided when he leveraged his system for finding, screening, selecting, hiring, and paying offshore virtual workers. Most business owners, and indeed hiring managers, simply do not have the time or inclination to work through all those steps. Bolted on to the service of hiring virtual assistants, Tim found that his clients saw significant value in his tips and tools for managing the productivity of those staff.

The Smart VA Staffing Agency, California is just one initiative, this one primarily designed to catch the attention of local businesses in Orange County. Local businesses who may not have already considered the offshore virtual assistant staffing model, when they are attempting to make hiring decisions.

Tim Barrie thanks his original clients in Orange County California for their feedback and support.

He chose Orange County as a target location for three reasons:

  • He already had happy clients in Orange County such as legal offices, insurance offices, and manufacturing design companies.
  • Hiring locals in California is inherently challenging due to all the regulations, aggressive employee-orientated labor laws, and of course high salaries.
  • In Tim’s experience business owners in the Orange County area are naturally orientated to entrepreneurship and technology.

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Going Virtual

Today Tim runs a digital marketing business in addition to his staffing services. He continues to enjoy the benefits of leveraging offshore virtual assistants for his digital marketing business, in that context as his own customer. He and his wife Sonja run those businesses from their motor home while traveling the U.S. They sold their 7,500 sq. ft. home in Utah in 2017 becoming fully mobile. To quote Tim, “Any business owner who nowadays maintains a physical office, who does not absolutely need a physical office as an inherent part of their business, is incurring a major unnecessary business cost. Going virtual in this day and age is a major competitive advantage for any company.”