Being a small business owner or entrepreneur takes a certain level of work ethic. Most who start small and build something that lasts end up putting a lot of time into their plans. This means everything from designing a brand that highlights their vision, to the seemingly trivial tasks that make it all possible. As plenty of business owners could probably tell you, the devil is in the details. Therefore, a virtual assistant can play devil’s advocate, helping business owners avoid getting caught up with all the small tasks that are both tedious and critical. So what is a virtual assistant, and what do they do?
Saving Your Business with a Virtual Secretary
Operating a business is a complex formula that involves a lot of working parts. It isn’t all about making your own hours and writing your own checks. A lot of effort goes into keeping everything moving behind the scenes. Sadly, some of that busy work can get in the way of your primary focus. Needless to say, it helps to have someone lending you a hand. But if your small business doesn’t have the budget to put a full-time secretary on the payroll, how can you get the help you need?
This is where a virtual assistant can be a game-changer. A virtual assistant is often an independent contractor who helps small businesses with their excess tasks. These individuals work remotely and often do so from a home office. This means not having to provide workspace or most of the materials you would need to offer an in-house employee, while still getting the help you need.
Depending on your mission and the strategy you are using to achieve it, a virtual assistant business can provide a number of services that can be life-saving for your small business.
What Does a Virtual Assistant Business Do?
When working with a virtual assistant business, there are a variety of virtual assistant services to consider. Some assistants will specialize in a specific kind of assistance, such as virtual accounting. Meanwhile, others may offer a large number of services, such as:
- Drafting and submitting web articles
- Managing emails
- Taking calls and scheduling appointments
- Graphic design
- Meeting planning
- Creating sales presentations
- Market research
- Database creation
- Advertising consulting
- Public relations
- Customer service support
- Social media management
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Transcription and word processing
- Travel planning
Each one of these tasks is incredibly important for a growing business. However, each of these tasks also requires your most valuable asset; your time. While a business owner is certainly capable of taking their own calls or planning their own business trips, most would rather focus on their company’s mission. Utilizing a virtual assistant business allows you to outsource most of these administrative tasks online. That way, you can work on improving your product or service, and expanding your revenue.
Why Hire a Virtual Assistant?
Still unsure how a virtual assistant business could improve your productivity? There are plenty of benefits to factor in when deciding if an online professional is best for your small business. Overall, at least four excellent reasons to work with a virtual assistant business stand out for most small business owners.
Whatever Works for You
Firstly, one major advantage to relying on a virtual assistant is the ability to customize the experience to fit your needs. You get to decide whatever works for you, and then find someone to meet those expectations. As a business owner, you get to establish what you are able to pay for the tasks you need completed. Then, you get to seek a remote virtual assistant that can meet those needs and operate within your criteria.
Then, if you decide the individual is not meeting your expectations or isn’t as practical as you had intended, you can easily discontinue the service. Although, this may depend on the terms of the initial contract agreement. Still, you have an opportunity to shape an experience that works best for your business. Some freelancers’ rates even vary depending on the specific services you require. For a small business that is trying to manage a conservative budget, this can make all the difference.
By obtaining the help of a virtual secretary, you don’t have to worry about a lot of the additional expenses that are required for regular employees. There is no need to worry about things like:
- Tracking hours
- Training employees
- Offering benefits
Not to mention, your business can save a lot on the cost of payroll. Often, small business owners will hire virtual assistants for specific projects. This allows you to set a pay-per-project rate instead of a consistent hourly rate. Not only can this be more beneficial for your specific business plan, but it is also frequently more cost-effective.
Keep in mind, a lot of the savings are more notable in the long-term. It’s true that it can cost more up front since their rates seem more expensive than hiring an in-house assistant. However, it can save you more in the long-term.
Saving on costs can also extend to the resource you save by not needing to train a new employee. Not to mention, you can seek an assistant who doesn’t need you to provide them with the necessary equipment to perform the job. Virtual accounting, graphic design, and many other administrative jobs often require specific software. While the cost of the software may factor into the overall rate for a freelance virtual assistant, it can still be a lot cheaper than paying for the program yourself and then hiring someone to operate it.
Make the Most of Your Time
Again, time is the most valuable thing you have. It is the one thing your company can never overstock, and no matter how profitable you become you can’t buy it back once you spend it. Therefore, any opportunity you have to make the most of your time is priceless. By working with a virtual assistant business, you get to spend more of your time working on growing your business.
Not only that, you save the time you would have otherwise spend trying to interview, hire, and train someone to perform the task. When you want to make sure you hire the right person for the job, you don’t always hire the first person to apply without vetting your options. The whole process of seeking someone to give you more time is itself time consuming. Then, if that individual does not work out, the whole thing starts from square one.
With a virtual assistant, you get to streamline this process. Business owners can either go through an agency that interviews and qualifies freelancers, or they can usually preview a portfolio of work from a virtual assistant to make sure the individual can perform the task. This typically means there will be little or no further training required. Either option can save a lot of time, so you can pay attention to the bigger picture.
Finally, by outsourcing these day-to-day administrative tasks to a virtual secretary, your in-house employees can also be focused on helping you best grow your business.
Expect Expert Assistance
Probably one of the strongest reasons to hire a virtual assistant is the quality of work you can ultimately expect. When seeking a virtual assistant, you have the opportunity to look for service providers and freelancers who already have extensive experience in the specific kind of work you need. As the virtual marketplace for freelancers continues to expand, there are more experts in every area ready to assist you in building your business.
When recruiting a virtual assistant, you can find individuals with years of experience in their field. As a result, you get to spend less time reviewing and micro-managing their work. With expert assistance, you can trust their ability to perform the job. In fact, they may know a lot more about what your business needs than you do. Frequently, a virtual assistant business can actually save their clients money by avoiding common mistakes and even implementing innovative strategies.
For example, you might be an expert in electrical work but understand very little about bookkeeping. Thankfully, a virtual assistant specializing in administrative work can not only give you more time to focus on electrical work–it can also save you from costly accounting errors.
Finally, as your business grows, a virtual assistant business can work with you to scale their projects. Eventually, they will have a better understanding of your business and can be trusted with bigger projects. You may even want to utilize them as a personal assistant as well.
Finding the Assistant That Is Right for You
If you think that recruiting a virtual assistant is going to benefit your business, the next step would be figuring out how to find the right one. Social media and networking platforms provide the market with an ever-expanding workforce of freelancers and virtual professionals. While this means you have a massive variety to choose from, it also can make this process even more complex. Additionally, defining roles for potential virtual assistants is key to finding the right service provider who can meet your expectations.
Thankfully, there are plenty of online resources for finding freelance workers. Many have systems that help filter potential freelancers to match their experience and skills with potential positions. Some even allow business owners to review ratings of virtual professionals and examine their digital portfolios. While this does require looking through resumes for your job posting, it makes it easier to sift through the less suitable candidates.
Beyond this, many virtual assistant business agencies work with an extended staff of freelancers to help connect business owners with remote specialists to meet their needs. Keep in mind, this service can be expensive depending on the company. However, for many business owners, the convenience of not having to read through the hundreds or even thousands of offers to find one virtual assistant is worth the investment.
In the end, you have plenty of options. And when you really get down to it, that is the whole point. As someone working hard to realize a unique vision and achieve distinct goals, it’s important to customize your experience. You want to be able to rely on real professionals to support the growth of your brand.
With virtual assistant services, you have the chance to set your own expectations, supplement costs, and utilize experts that can save you time, which can ultimately save the future of your business. For further reading check out these other articles on handling virtual assistants and how to create the best practices for virtual assistants.