Running a successful small business or being an entrepreneur takes a tremendous amount of hard work and dedication. You shape every direction of your product or service from branding to even the most trivial aspects. Italian fashion designer Giorgio Armani said it best: “To create exceptional, your mindset must be relentlessly focused on the smallest detail.” However, many times, business owners can get bogged down with too many details, leaving them unable to focus on more pressing matters. That is where an assistant comes in to play, but sometimes, an in-office assistant may not be possible. Are there any other options?
Is a Virtual Assistant an Option for You?
While running your own business does allow for a bit of freedom, getting it to run smoothly involves a lot of different moving parts. There are so many things going on behind the scenes that must get taken care of, but there is only so much one person can effectively do. Unfortunately, not every business has the funds to pay a full-time assistant to ease the burden.
In this world of ever-growing connectivity, a virtual assistant may be just the option for you. Quite often, they are considered an independent contractor, so there are minimal extra costs involved in employing one to help with the workload. If utilized correctly, a virtual assistant can help provide a wide variety of services that can be that little extra boost your business needs to make it to the next level.
What Does a Virtual Assistant Do?
Some virtual assistants provide just a few specialized services like accounting or project management, while others offer a wide variety of services. Many virtual assistants can manage the following tasks for you:
- Writing and Posting Web Articles or Posts
- Managing Communication (i.e., email, social media messages)
- Answering Incoming Calls
- Scheduling Appointments
- Graphic Design
- Organizing Meetings and Conferences
- Creating Sales Presentations
- Market Research
- Entering and Maintaining Databases
- Advertising Consulting
- Public Relations
- Customer Service Support
- Social Media Management
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Transcription and Word Processing
- Travel Planning
These are just a few of the vital things that a growing business needs, but these can be very time-consuming as well. While the majority of business owners are more than capable of taking care of these tasks on their own, quite often their time is needed in other pressing areas. Utilizing a virtual assistant allows a business to outsource most of its administrative tasks.
Why Hire a Virtual Assistant?
Hiring an online professional can help boost your productivity tremendously. However, if you are still on the fence about whether a virtual assistant is right for your business or not, there are several other essential aspects to keep in mind. These are the four most valuable benefits a virtual assistant offers:
1. Services Can Be Customized
One of the most significant advantages of employing a virtual assistant is the ability to customize the services you need and find someone who fits your individual business needs. There is a lot more freedom in selecting a virtual assistant than there is in hiring an in-office assistant. You can post the tasks you need to be accomplished and the pay you are willing to offer, with greater flexibility than when looking for a traditional hire. Once an individual is chosen, if, for some reason, the working relationship does not meet your expectations, it is straightforward to discontinue using their service. Also, some freelancers charge different rates for different tasks, which allows more freedom in your budget. For many small businesses with a tight budget, this can be a game-changer since you only pay for the services you need, when you need them.
2. Helps Cut Hiring Costs
Traditional hires come along with quite a few financial responsibilities for a business as well as a drain on time. With a virtual assistant, a company no longer has to track employee hours, manage employee training, or offer benefits.
By far, though, the most significant way a freelance assistant can save your business money is through payroll – or reduction in payroll, that is. A business can hire an assistant just for occasional projects or tasks, and therefore, only have to pay a pay-per-project rate instead of a regular hourly rate. You do not have to worry about an in-house assistant just sitting at a front desk wasting your payroll dollars during slower periods.
Another great way virtual assistants can help save money for your business is by reducing your equipment and technology costs. Quite often, jobs like accounting and graphic design require specific, specialty programs, software, and technology. More often than not, a freelancer that specializes in those tasks already has the programs or technology needed to perform these tasks. It is one less thing your business to purchase.
3. Makes the Most of Your Time
The most valuable asset a business owner has is time. Harvey MacKay, businessman, author and syndicated columnist, said: “Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it, you can never get it back.” Therefore, making the most of your time is priceless. One way you can do this is to utilize the services of a virtual assistant. This will free up more of your time to focus on growing your business instead of worrying about scheduling appointments and creating an advertising campaign.
In regards to time management, you also save a tremendous amount of time during the hiring process. You eliminate so much time interviewing, submitting new hire paperwork, and training the new hire. Even with the most stringent hiring procedures, quite often it still takes time to find the right fit for your business and your needs. With a traditional hire, if the employee is not a good fit, you would have to start the process all over again. However, hiring virtual assistants allows you to streamline the whole hiring process.
The majority of freelance assistants can provide an in-depth portfolio and numerous references, allowing you to see if they indeed are qualified for the tasks you need to be managed. You can all but eliminate the need to spend a long time training a new hire if you do your due diligence. Another benefit of outsourcing day-to-day tasks or specialty needs is that your in-house employees have more time to devote to helping you grow your business and making it even more profitable.
4. Takes Advantage of Expertise
By far, one of the most significant advantages a virtual assistant gives a business is the level of expertise you now have at your disposal. Distance from your office is no longer a limiting factor, opening up a massive pool of extremely qualified candidates that would not have even been an option previously. You can choose from a virtual marketplace of freelancers who are experts in nearly every field, experts who can help you build your business in a way you never thought possible.
With expert assistance, you can spend far less time reviewing and managing their tasks, and more time on tasks only you can do. Quite often, a virtual assistant may have more expertise in your field than you even do yourself. They frequently can save their clients money by helping them avoid common mistakes or implementing different policies or procedures in an area to improve productivity or efficiency. You can draw on their experience.
How to Find the Right Assistant
While having an almost endless “pool” to choose a virtual assistant from is a tremendous asset, it can also increase the confusion and trepidation in trying to find the most qualified candidate for the position. It can seem a little overwhelming with your options broadened so suddenly now that you have started looking through the available “virtual workforce.” How do you go about looking for a qualified candidate?
Thankfully, there are quite a few online resources that can help you with this. Some platforms have useful filtering options to help match you with the right freelancer. You can choose the level of skill and experience that you are looking for and be matched with options. Many platforms even have reviews from previous clients posted to help you know more about your potential hire. Who would know a freelancer better than those they have worked with previously? These types of filtering options allow you to sort through potential candidates much quicker and connect with remote specialists that would not usually be available in your area. This is especially helpful for small business in rural areas that struggle with finding qualified candidates.
Keep in mind that many of these platforms and services can get costly, as they charge fees and commissions. However, many business owners, are willing to spend this extra money for the convenience and freedom it gives in return. It is worth the investment for them.