Personal assistant for a day: the startup: small firm fills a need for business owners who don't want to hire full-time help.

Author:McCrea, Bridget
Position:Small Biz

CHARELL STAR SPENT HALF OF HER TIME ON the road as an event planner and public relations specialist. "I would come home and my personal life was a mess," she says. "The refrigerator was empty, my laundry needed cleaning, and I was completely disorganized."

When her dry cleaner called to tell her that he'd been holding her clothes for more than six months, Star realized she needed help. Some quality assistance on a regular basis would fit the bill, however, hiring a full-time personal assistant would not have been financially feasible.

After researching her options and coming up empty, Star realized that there was a valid need for the services that she herself was seeking. "I looked at competitors and the target customer market for personal assistants," she explains. "When I didn't find what I was looking for, I decided to start my own company around the concept." Now the 33-year-old entrepreneur is CEO of New York-based PA For A Day. Using about $45,000 from her own reserves, Star launched the company in January of 2012 with the goal of providing affordable, short-term personal assistant services to businesses and individuals in New York City, northern New Jersey, and Washington, D.C. The initial investment covered the costs of shared office space in New York, a business license, LLC. filing, website, insurance, and bond.

To use PA For A Day's services, clients visit the firm's website and select a specific date, time, and task to be completed. The system matches the assignment with one of PA For A Day's 75 independent contractors (dispersed evenly across the three markets that the firm serves). All business is transacted through the company's website, where payments are made in advance and held in escrow until the task is complete.

For a fee of $20 an hour (and a two-hour minimum), PA For A Day's contractors may pick up and deliver dry cleaning, fill in for sick receptionists, staff events, and even wait in line for and deliver pastries as an anniversary gift for a client's spouse. "We get some pretty unusual requests," says Star, whose favorites include staffing the gala at the Emmy Awards. "Anytime someone needs help, but doesn't have the money or time for full-time staff, we fit the bill perfectly."

On track to post $75,000 to $100,000 in sales for 2014--up from $50,000 in 2013--PA For A Day is now expanding into other big-city markets such as Philadelphia, Boston, and Chicago. The firm serves, on average, 300 clients.

Michael Madarash...

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