Virtual assistants for small business owners.


23rd January, 2019

Is it time to hire a virtual assistant?

Taking on a personal assistant was once reserved for the higher echelons of management personnel. But with the dawn of the ‘always on’ work paradigm and modern information tech, the virtual assistant has become an affordable solution to a host of logistical problems.

At different stages of running a business, there are occasions where we need a little extra help to get things done. That could mean assistance with the accounts, lead generation, or even diary management.

But it’s often hard to find the extra cash to hire someone permanently, especially when adding up the cost of superannuation and tax.

What’s more, business owners sometimes find they may only need help periodically – making employing someone permanently an unnecessary expense and hassle.

What, then, is the solution to filling a growing company’s staff needs when hiring permanent staff is not the answer?

What is a virtual assistant?

Virtual assistants are contractors who are usually trained in a range of administrative tasks, or sometimes, in an industry-specific task. From admin, sales or accounting right up to recruitment and marketing; virtual assistants are available ‘on demand’ to help businesses with task overflow.

Whereas full time employees require regular hours, set wages and an office to work from, virtual assistants generally work remotely from their own office (or home) and are able to work as and when required – perfect for growing businesses with limited budgets.

They either charge per hour or on an ongoing retainer, a decision that can be discussed once an outline of tasks is decided and a timeline has been established.

Finding the right virtual assistant for your business can be a tricky process, but with the huge growth in the virtual industry, there is nothing short of a sea of assistants ready to pitch their skills to your business… you’ve just got to find the right one for you.

Adding essential skills

Running a small business can mean being everything from CEO to marketing manager, bookkeeper to receptionist. Sometimes your skill base won’t be strong in all of the required areas, and there will be areas of your business that could perform better with the help of someone more knowledgeable.

Doing an audit of all of the tasks you undertake for the business and working out how much of your time each of those tasks is taking up each week is a good start. This is, in effect, a ‘road map’ of your time and a great way to audit your role in the business.

Once you can see where your time is being spent, you can work out if someone more qualified in one of those areas could do the job better, or more efficiently. If so, you could then re-allocate those tasks to them, freeing up your time to focus on the tasks that you do better, or are more important.

Growing the business

When running a small business, it’s generally the goal to be working at full client capacity so you’re earning as much as possible. But, unfortunately, this rarely leaves time for researching new leads.

No doubt you started your business because you believed in what it was you were going to offer to future clients. As with most companies, once clients start rolling in, our focus switches from onboarding clients to managing the accounts – leaving off an essential part of business growth.

If you are being weighed down by simply managing the clients you have and the admin that goes along with that, you might find that adding a virtual assistant to the mix will allow you to re-focus on your business growth and give you more time to find the clients that will help you grow.

Existing clients might also benefit from seeing you take more of a managerial role and offering a more personalised service, leaving the ‘back room’ admin to someone else. Long term business relationships are the key to success and having the time to nurture those is essential to business longevity and more stable cash flow.

Work/life balance

Finally, any small business owner knows the struggle of working 10-hour days, seven days a week to keep the dream alive. Unfortunately, that style of work is not easily conducive to a healthy work/life balance and can actually be bad for business.

A well-rested mind is one that makes better decisions and spots issues sooner. Hiring a virtual assistant to help with some day-to-day tasks can free up your time to allow you to focus on yourself, whilst you let someone else sweat the small stuff.

Many business owners feel guilty about hiring help or focus too heavily on the cost of help financially, overlooking the physical and mental benefits.

As Andrew Wilkinson, the founder of MetaLab says, “You don’t have to make yourself miserable to be successful”.

“It’s natural to look back and mythologise the long nights and manic moments of genius, but success is not about working hard, it’s about working smart,” said Wilkinson.

Take the time to audit your business practice and determine if hiring a virtual assistant to sweat the small stuff for you is one way to help you work smarter, not harder.