Time vs. money – if you’re a small business owner, you never have enough of either. Worse, most decisions involve a tradeoff – spending a little more to gain some time, or adding something to your already loaded plate to save some money.
Virtual assistants are gaining traction as a tool among many businesses, particularly small ones. Some small business owners hail virtual assistants as a godsend. Others are skeptical of spending money to have somebody do tasks they feel they can do themselves. The truth, of course, is somewhere in the middle.
Virtual assistants are particularly well-suited for small businesses because they can be deployed quickly and for a defined cost. Hours can be added or cut back as needed.
The fact of the matter is that most businesses could use a virtual assistant at least some of the time. Need will depend on the level of business activity (such as whether a business is in a growth phase), the complexity of operations, and the level of in-house expertise in areas such as marketing, bookkeeping, and graphic design.
How does a virtual assistant provide value for a small business’ dollar? Three primary ways:
1. They can complete projects quickly and efficiently and provide expertise that your business doesn’t have in-house. Many virtual assistants are highly experienced and specialized. Virtual assistants can specialize not just in administrative tasks, but marketing, paralegal work, bookkeeping, and real estate sales support. These VAs can complete projects that you may not have the expertise or time to work on. Second, even if you have the ability to complete the same task as a virtual assistant, your virtual assistant’s experience may enable her to complete the task faster and more efficiently. Virtual assistants become expert in the functions of everything from standard word processing software to cloud-based accounting software to social media platforms. Chances are you don’t have time to devote the same attention to learning this software while running your business.
2. You will have more time to spend on other important aspects of your business. Many entrepreneurs and small business owners spend a significant amount of time on mundane, repetitive administrative duties, leaving them less time to focus on growing their business, products, or services. Simply put – they shouldn’t. Their time is far more valuably spent plotting business strategy, growing the business, or, in the case of professionals, providing specialized services. Take a close look at all of the responsibilities on your plate. Even complicated tasks can often be divided into a series of smaller tasks, some of which can be delegated to a virtual assistant. For example, business development projects can utilize a VA by having them follow up on sales leads to sustain engagements and set up appointments. VAs can research suppliers and buying alternatives for your business so you can reduce costs. If you delegate blogging and marketing collateral to your VA, they can not only create initial content but optimize content for search engines and increased visibility as well. Some people balk at the idea of using a VA because they require time to integrate into a business’ operations. This is a mistake. Almost any new employee or type of delegation will require some training, and the initial investment pays off in the future as your VA will soon be able to complete projects autonomously.
3. You only pay them for the time they work and don’t have to pay additional employee costs. VAs work within an agreed upon budget. Unlike salaried or hourly employees, you only pay your VA for the actual time they spend working. As such, VA’s are a more flexible resource than employees and usage can easily be scaled up or down depending on need. You don’t have to factor in costs associated with having in-house employees either. There is no concern about the administrative costs of hiring an employee, such as running payroll or handling employee-related taxes or benefits. Virtual assistants work with their own equipment and technology, and there is no need to set aside office space. You never have to worry about spending money to provide a business phone or laptop, or paying utilities or internet for someone else to use.
One of the great virtues of virtual assistants is their flexibility. Virtual assistants can work in different ways for a small business owner who is trying to dig out from administrative work to grow her business, an attorney struggling to figure out how he can use digital marketing to grow his practice, or a small business needing graphic design or website optimization. You may not need virtual assistants for all things at all times, but they are a strategic tool to be customized and deployed in a way that adds value to your business.
This guest post is courtesy of Eric Wall, Equivity.