The Virtual Assistant is very much a 21st Century business tool

When I started my VA business in 2006 Virtual Assistants hadn't really been heard of in the UK, let alone understood in terms of how they could benefit a business.  10 years on there's probably a VA in nearly every networking event you go to, but I'd still argue that most small business owners don't really understand how they can use one to help their business.

I think there are 2 main hurdles for most business owners to get over in their thinking about VAs:

1.       lack of understanding about what a VA can do to help in the business

2.       the cost of having a VA

We'll look at the cost issue next week, but to start with let's understand what sort of tasks a VA could help you with. 

When I meet with prospective clients they nearly all ask what can I help them with?  I can list 101 tasks that my team can carry out for them but 100 of them might be irrelevant to them and I may have missed the 3 things they really want to delegate. 

Every business is individual and every business owner’s needs are individual, so it’s much better that I ask how can we help them?  And these are the 3 questions I ask:

1.       What tasks need doing for the business to grow / be successful / maintain standards but you hate doing (and so in reality probably aren't doing because you're busy procrastinating over them and consequently putting the business in jeopardy)?

 

2.       What tasks need doing for the business to grow / be successful / maintain standards but you aren’t good at (you’ve probably learnt how to do them to a degree but in reality they aren’t being done as well as they could be and consequently are putting the business in jeopardy)?

 

3.       What tasks need doing for the business to grow / be successful / maintain standards but they could be done by someone else to leave you, the business owner, free to do other tasks that you should be doing?

Your answers to these questions are a good place to start a conversation with a VA.  VAs have lots of different skills and so it’s important to know what you want help with and you find the right VA to support you and your business, rather than find a VA and take the support they can offer.

 

If you want a kick-start on the ideas front download our list of 32 things you could outsource but don’t forget, these are just generic ideas, some of which will be relevant to you, some of which won’t and some of things you need support with won’t be included but that doesn’t mean to say no-one can help you with them, you just need to ask!

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So what is a Virtual Assistant?

Today is Administrative Professional’s Day and the newest addition to our industry is the VA – Virtual Assistant.

Many people still don’t know what a VA is and I think perhaps the title doesn’t help.  I am starting to refer to my team as ‘Remote Admin Assistants’ as I think that more accurately describes what we do.  We are real, not virtual or computer generated, but we don’t work in your office, we work remotely from our own office.

The benefits to small business owners of working with a VA or Remote Admin Assistant are huge:

  • Releasing time to focus on other things
  • Improved efficiency
  • Professional, experienced person with knowledge that can help improve the business
  • Increased income due to the business owner being able to do more work and/or marketing

Cost conscious business owners will often look at the hourly rate of a VA and think they are an expensive alternative to employing someone or getting a temp, but they haven’t considered the bigger picture:

  • No employment costs
  • No office and equipment costs
  • Only paying for the time worked (no cigarette breaks, sickness or holiday)
  • Flexible working hours
  • High levels of service (this isn’t just a job - their business depends on it)
  • Access to a variety of experience and skills (if you choose a company with a team)

By dismissing a VA because of the hourly rate they are missing out on something that could make a positive impact on their business and allow them to move to the next level.

If you want to know more about the logistics of working with a VA I’m happy to have a chat and explain it in more detail.

 

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The easiest way to grow your business

I had the privilege of listening to one of my VA colleagues the other week talking about the breakthroughs in her business and one of them was when she learnt to outsource.  This might sound a bit odd coming from someone who provides an outsourcing service, but it is a key factor in any business being able to grow.

There will most likely come a point in your business when you need some extra help but aren't ready to commit to employing someone.  This is an ideal time to consider outsourcing whatever it is you don't like doing / aren't good at. 

A lot of small businesses are outsourced suppliers to other small businesses and you can buy help in pretty much any area you're struggling with:

·         Social media management                                                                            Easiest way to grow your own business
·         Writing
·         Bookkeeping
·         General Admin
·         Accounts
·         Website maintenance
·         Design


The list goes on. 

I am fortunate that I have a team of VAs in-house so it's easy for me to make use of them and a lot of my admin is carried out by someone other than me, freeing me up to focus on growing the business and work on the higher value tasks. But it's just as easy for you to make use of a VA as well.  You'll most likely meet one at any networking event you go to these days, or you can always give us a call.

When using outsourced help you are usually just paying for the hours worked (although you will be able to negotiate retainers if you prefer to work that way) and that won't include toilet breaks and a chat round the water cooler, so it's a really smart way to start to grow your business.

The other facility I have made use of lately www.fiverr.com  when I've needed small jobs like an e-book cover designing or a video file converting into a different format.

So, what tasks do you hate doing and who do you know that you could pay to do it for you - most likely making a much better job of than you, in a fraction of the time - and free you up to do other things?

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