When a business is started, it is filled with dreams and a vision to succeed. A person does not decide to suddenly become an entrepreneur; it’s the kind of decision that can change someone’s entire life, and therefore, is not to be taken lightly.
Another reason why people should think on the matter before making a final decision is because of all the work that needs to be put in, which is needed in order for a business to thrive. It’s not a regular nine to five grind, but rather a long, draining, and exhaustive job to grow a business—and that’s only scratching the surface.
Because of this, it is really easy for most small businesses (especially those that have just started) to get bogged down with all the tasks on the to-do-list; sometimes even reaching the point where they have to neglect certain duties in order to prioritize the ones necessary for the company to stay above water.
However, there has been an upward trend of small businesses making use of virtual assistants, also known as VAs, to great effect. There have even been success stories wherein by making use of their large variety of services, VAs have significantly helped increase production and revenue.
Hiring a virtual assistant can increase the productivity of a business.
Of course, there are certain things you need to take note of before you go hiring a virtual assistant. You need to consider if they would really be a good fit for your company, and you should learn how to spot a good virtual assistant a mile away.
Here, we tackle the things you need to know about what a VA is, what they can do for you, and what to look out for when interviewing one.
What makes the virtual assistant?
According to the Canadian Association of Virtual Assistants, also known as CAVA, virtual assistants give small business owners the ability to receive the help they need in tackling the administrative side of the company, giving budding entrepreneurs more time and energy to dedicate in generating revenue.
A more by-the-book definition of a virtual assistant is a professional that assists companies with any overflow they might have. They usually have a wide skillset, meaning they are able to help with almost anything that is usually handled by an in-house employee.
The difference between them and a freelancer is that most virtual assistants handle more than one kind of task. They also have a vast repertoire of abilities that can prove to be very useful to small businesses.
What kind of tasks do they usually handle?
You might be sick of reading this already, but it really does bear keeping in mind that virtual assistants are able to do a lot of things. This is because as the VA industry grows, more and more skillsets are added to their repertoire.
A contributing factor to this is the fact that a lot of retirees actually head into virtual assistance. Although they do enjoy relaxing and enjoying the fruits of their labor, some them just can’t sit still and do nothing all day. Becoming a VA is an easy choice, considering a lot of them choose to work from home, and have a level of flexibility concerning work hours.
From data entry to bookkeeping, and even customer service support, virtual assistants are able to help you with it. A lot of them also offer other accounting services, some advertising assistance, as well as article drafting and submission.
They also help out with social media management and SEO, some internet and market research, public relations, as well as transcription and word processing. Some travel and flight booking firms also make use of their skills to plan tours and reserve tickets.
Some virtual assistants also focus on technical and creative jobs. They can be used to field some technical support questions, and some even have experience in graphic design and web design. There are also some virtual assistants who do work in human resources.
All in all, you can see why we keeping saying what we did, and this isn’t even a fraction of the full gamut of their abilities. Almost every day, new skills are added to the list and who knows what they’ll learn next.
How much do they cost?
One of the biggest advantages to making use of a virtual assistant’s services is that you no longer have to cover the overhead of an in-house employee. This has been talked about far and wide, and some businesses even make use of them solely because of their affordability.
However, it should be noted that their rates actually vary depending on the assistant, and we’re not talking about a difference of five to ten dollars. This also depends on how long you are planning to make use of their services.
If you were to make use of their abilities on a yearly, or monthly basis, they would likely garner some savings compared to if you were simply using them a few times every month, or even on a by-project-basis.
These days, there are already a considerable number of companies that act as an agency for virtual assistants. These firms charge a certain percentage for introducing them to an interested company, and this will increase the amount you need to pay.
But generally speaking, virtual assistants are going to cost less compared to an in-house employee. They work outside the office so you don’t have to spend anything additional for office space, supplies, and utilities.
Depending on your agreement with them, you also don’t need to pay for any additional benefits or incentives for virtual assistants, compared to an actual employee who is more likely than not expecting these as part of their contract.
Why they are beneficial for you
Virtual assistants help save money, time, effort by working with competence that would suit to their clients’ needs.
Most of us have heard of how virtual assistants are able to assist small businesses find success, and even help big companies function more efficiently. But when we get down to it, why should you choose to get a virtual assistant?
You’ll find tasks easier, and finish them faster
No matter what kind of skillset, and what firm you contact, the main task of the virtual assistant is to help you finish tasks. This is doubly important with small businesses, because as the company grows, so does the seemingly endless list of things you need to accomplish.
Another thing to consider is that your company might not be ready to take on a full-time employee for the capacity you need them for. You need to make sure you have enough funds to keep the employee, or simply make use of a virtual assistant.
Taxes, benefits, and other additional charges aren’t included if you were to make use of a virtual assistant. And once you’ve established you are able to make use of a few VAs, then you’ll find your workflow becoming more efficient, and you will finish your daily tasks in no time.
You’ll have more time for yourself
One thing a lot of entrepreneurs have adopted from their humble beginnings is the “do everything yourself” mentality. Of course, since they don’t have the kind of established foothold that bigger companies have, it is understandable they are used to making use of their own two hands to check that everything has already been covered.
Even if they already had some help from the start, it’s not uncommon that they make sure everything is shipshape themselves. This leads to work weeks that reach even beyond 100 hours’ worth of work. Forget about dreaming and envisioning—they barely have time to breathe before they dive back in.
Having the ability to hand over certain tasks to virtual assistants means you have more time to allocate to other ventures; be that thinking of new directions for your company to head towards, or simply taking the time to relax and refresh.
Being able to rely on an expert
One doesn’t simply become a VA and then be expected to be able to cater to the wide variety of services asked of them. A lot of virtual assistants are also experts in their particular fields, be it copywriting, marketing, customer support, and other departments.
The thing with small business owners, again, is that they usually do a majority of the tasks, despite them not being experts in their field, because they are just starting out. This might even lead to mistakes, which will hinder progress and lead to additional work—something that can all be avoided should a virtual assistant’s services be commissioned.
What to look out for in a VA
When searching for the right virtual assistant for you there are three things you must absolutely look out for: experience, accountability, and communication. Experience speaks for itself.
Accountability means you should look for somebody who is responsible enough to own up to mistakes. This might be difficult to spot in the initial interview, but try to ask for references so you can contact some of the VAs previous clients.
Arguably the most important factor, however, is how well they are able to communicate. Without the ability to properly relay ideas and give prompt updates, all the other things are rendered moot, as no matter how good a worker a VA is, they will be a hindrance if you’re unable to reach an understanding.
In the end, virtual assistants are going to be beneficial to almost any business. However, there are still things you need to consider before taking one in, and you also need to make sure you go with a trusted professional that will help your business and your dream grow to its full potential.