In a Nutshell: Since 2010, BELAY has been a leader in fully remote, part-time services. When the company started, it connected professionals with virtual assistants, later adding accounting, social media design, and web development offerings. Some clients combine BELAY services for their support needs, while others just hire one contractor as a bookkeeper or social media manager. BELAY’s CEO attributes the company’s success to its dedicated team of employees and contractors.
Jennifer Bagaglio, the Chief Operating Officer at a nonprofit that connects young people with service opportunities, was looking for a virtual assistant. She also wanted someone who would eventually integrate full time into her operations team. That is precisely what Bagaglio got when she connected with BELAY Virtual Assistant Alyssa Pence.
“She manages all of our daily agendas and our weekly items, and she’s fully integrated with our senior team to manage their calendars. What I tried to do was make sure she was getting enough guidance from other people on the team so that she could be helpful to them,” said Bagaglio.
Pence also organizes finances, reviews time sheets and revenues, and processes invoices, all tasks that Bagaglio otherwise would have had to do herself.
What’s more, Pence fits into the company culture Bagaglio and her team have built.
“She is a very, very kind person and wants to be helpful in whatever way she can, and that’s definitely a big part of our culture. We often define ourselves as a caring culture, so I think her personality and orientation toward wanting to help others obviously fits in with how our team approaches things,” Bagaglio said.
BELAY’s other clients have had experiences similar to those of Bagaglio. The company offers part-time, remote services, including carefully vetted US-based virtual assistants, accountants, social media coordinators, and web developers, for individual and small businesses.
Many BELAY clients later express regret in not contacting the company sooner. Some, like Jennifer, worry that virtual professionals won’t fit into their teams. But once they contract with BELAY, they may wonder how they got along without the added outsourced support.
“Our people are our culture. And everything else falls perfectly into place,” said BELAY CEO Tricia Sciortino.
Small Businesses Use BELAY to Grow Their Operations
In 2010, Sciortino was working at a church construction company as a virtual assistant for BELAY’s founder. Long before the COVID-19 pandemic, they recognized how helpful assistants could be on a part-time, fractional basis. In that job, for instance, the church pastors were buried in administrative work and needed help.
They also recognized that leaders didn’t have to be in the same office as their assistants.
“He was in Atlanta, Georgia, and I was in Charlotte, North Carolina, and still, we worked really effectively together in a remote capacity,” Sciortino told us.
Out of this idea, the first iteration of BELAY was born. At that time, the goal was to offer virtual assistant services for churches — making Sciortino a smart choice as the first employee hired.
Soon after, the team recognized they could also add bookkeeping services for church clients, too. Then, they expanded to serving non-profit clients in general. The need was clearly there – in 2014, BELAY landed on the INC 5000 list as one of the fastest-growing companies.
Using this momentum, the company added a website management and security services component and a virtual writing company to its services.
In 2020, the company came full circle — hiring Sciortino as its CEO.
“Now, our collective focus is on all leaders who struggle to staff with the right people as they grow. They need a team, but hiring is complicated. Our proprietary matching process pairs clients with contractors who are accepted by standards more rigorous than Harvard’s, only accepting just over three percent of those who apply,” Sciortino said.
Nurturing a Devoted Workforce and Company Culture
BELAY was ahead of the curve with remote work and was also an early adopter of flexible, virtual work schedules.
“For too long, it was widely accepted that there were two options for work: full-time, in-office employment and unemployment. Employment was binary, and there was no in-between,” Sciortino said.
So BELAY’s contractors have always been able to set their own schedules. Some want to be able to pick up their kids after school every day, while others prefer to work at their own pace and on their own schedule. Some have recurring medical appointments or are empty-nesters who want more flexibility.
Despite this disparate workforce, BELAY has been able to establish a unified company culture and a model for other organizations looking to strengthen virtual teams.
“We all recognize that we are greater than the sum of our parts, so we strive every day to hold space for one another and our clients and fill it with kindness, honesty, gratitude, fun, and integrity,” Sciortino said.
To do this, BELAY developed programs to recognize and add value for its employees. For instance, the frugal WOWs program rewards exceptional workers.
“From BBQ spices for someone who loves to cook, to monogrammed guitar picks to someone who loves to play guitar, to gift cards, books, and handwritten notes, our frugal WOWs are a small gesture of gratitude,” Sciortino told us.
To support the team’s holistic wellness, BELAY also offers a Wellness Reimbursement Program that lets employees use the reimbursable benefit as they wish. Some take exercise classes, while others take stress-relieving classes or get regular massages.
The Pay It Forward Program is an employee-contributions initiative that invites BELAY employees, clients, and contractors to donate money that is then given to anyone at the organization going through tough times.
BELAY: Staying Ahead of Remote Work Trends
In 2015, Sarah Teagle was working for her husband Jayson’s company as a bookkeeper. But as their family grew, she became overwhelmed with all of her responsibilities. So Jayson turned to BELAY for a part-time bookkeeper. The solution was even better than the Teagles expected.
“At the Christmas party last year, my wife actually broke down in tears, hugged [our bookkeeper] and said, ‘I don’t know how we would have done this without you.’ It’s taken so much off my family. Sarah has taken a huge burden off our family,” Jayson said.
Eventually, Jayson bought out his BELAY Bookkeeper and promoted her to CFO at his company.
This is just one example of how BELAY predicted the state of work in 2023. With a team spread throughout 48 states, the organization not only created a company culture that supports virtual work but has also shown clients that remote work solutions are effective.
Next up for the organization is marketing its newly-expanded Accounting Services, which moves beyond bookkeeping to include tax, e-commerce and CFO services, and even more financial support for small and medium businesses. The idea is that by offering a wide range of financial services, clients can focus less on accounting and prioritize the work that matters most to them.
When asked to explain how BELAY has been so successful over the past decade, Sciortino again mentions the team.
“We have no margin for ‘kinda sorta’ cultural commitments; you’ve got to be all in. Our culture is electricity. So, in everything we do, in all that we are, we are our culture,” she said.