Businesses exist to make a profit serving needs in the marketplace and growth is a clear metric of success in doing so. For the small- to mid-size business owner, one of the biggest impediments to growth is capacity. If there’s little time for you to work “ON” your business, something must give. An often overlooked or unknown solution may be a few clicks or calls away. Enter the virtual assistant (“VA”), a wildly popular service model for small and emerging businesses fighting a need for more capacity without making a big payroll commitment.
What Is a Virtual Assistant?
Unlike a jack-of-all-trades, a virtual assistant (“VA”) often specializes by functional area of a business, industry and almost every level of expertise you can imagine, even software specific. I have a VA that specializes in my coaching business management software and helps with my client and marketing communications. I also use other VAs for video editing, website banners, content marketing and even proprietary resources like custom spreadsheets.
These contract business professionals make their living by meeting the needs of business owners like us. You can find a VA for just about any business-specific task, service or project. Some examples include bookkeeping, marketing, order entry, customer service, web design and even sales.
Those who categorize VAs as “glorified secretaries” are way off the mark. Virtual assistants are proving themselves to be invaluable to companies. They can be an easy plug-n-play extension of brick-and-mortar offices and even more so in today’s remote work environments.
Many have spent time in the private sector and made the transition to business owner so others could benefit from their years of experience. This profession also maintains accrediting bodies for their credentialing programs.
Benefits of Working with a Virtual Assistant
So what do you have to gain by utilizing such a person?
- Maintain a low overhead — Since VAs work virtually, you don’t have to provide space in your office for them. Everything is done via electronic media. They are contract personnel so payment is for services rendered only—unlike a traditional employee.
- Business owners — Virtual assistants own their businesses. You are one of their clients. This means they pay for their own insurance and calculate their taxes. You have no worries about providing benefits, disability, retirement plans or any of that paperwork. Since they work by the hour, the cost is a bit more for their services, but you also save that much and more since they are not employees. The math is compelling if you look at total employee comp and overhead to hire, onboard, train, manage and develop… assuming they’re a good hire.
- Familiar with deadlines — These business professionals know what it is like to juggle multiple projects and deadlines. If you need something right away, a virtual assistant may be able to help.
- Nothing but work — In an office, there are lunch breaks for employees, downtime for this and that, and more. How many hours of a work day are actually spent getting things done? With a virtual assistant, all of the time devoted to you is productive time. You pay for that, not their downtime.
- Good quality work — Your satisfaction directly ties into their business reputation and vice versa. It is in their best interest to always provide high-quality output for their clients.
- Variety — All virtual assistants are not endowed with the same skill sets. If you need someone to run your website for you, then you can hire a VA with those specific skills.
Virtual assistants have the versatility to be useful to any number of business enterprises—including yours.
If you’re wondering if it’s time to explore a VA for your business, consider what work you need them to do. Start a list of activities you’d like to delegate if you could and keep adding to it for one week. After a week or so, prioritize them based on the burden, value and frequency of the tasks or projects.
Then consider the bigger picture of your business. What projects or critical activities are slow going or stalled? Where are your resources stretched the most or is there no one to do them? List and prioritize these as well. Start with one project or recurring activity and look for a VA solution. Start with something simple if this is your first go-round.
Searching for a VA is easy but it can feel a little intimidating if it’s your first time using them. There are a number of options out there. If you have a one-and-done project like building an Excel spreadsheet, building your website, writing copy or any number of other things, here are some very popular sites to find virtual assistants: Fiverr, Upwork, Zirtual, Virtual Assistants or Virtual Staff Finder.
The virtual assistant industry is mature enough that you can likely find specialists within your industry. Just search “virtual assistants for financial advisors” or whatever industry or specific service you might need. You’ll be surprised by the options out there within the financial, legal and other professional industries with all the credentials and experience needed to do your work, even software-specific (Salesforce, eMoney, etc.). With a little training on your way of doing things, they’re off to the races. Just make sure you check with compliance on what credentials and privacy agreements are required for them to see client-specific information if applicable.
My friend, Michael Kitces, also wrote a great article on this topic as well in 2016. Check it out and just consider how much more the industry has grown in six years, especially over the past few since COVID. There’s a reason for the growth and you’re missing out if not taking advantage of it.
If you just don’t know where to start or don’t have time for searching, reach out to my Virtual Assistant, Patti Ciccone. She runs a very successful VA firm and would be happy to explain how the industry works and what they do. That will fast-track you through the learning curve. Patti’s email is patti@InfiniteBusinessSolutions.com or you can just schedule a Q&A call HERE.
If you’d like a little help assessing opportunities to create more capacity in your world and accelerate the growth of your business, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or schedule a complimentary discovery call to identify opportunities to more fully develop your business. Just click the button below to book a Confident Leader Strategy Session with me.
Author’s content used under license, © Claire Communications