What a Virtual Assistant Can Do For You
Oftentimes Small Business Owners fall into the trap of feeling that it is imperative to have a right-hand man or woman that is an employee of the business. It feels like a natural next step, and a lot of us are natural born leaders, so we are eager for someone to lead.
If you have a brick and mortar, Business to Consumer business model that can make sense. You need someone to man the store while you’re away and want someone you can depend on. Totally fine. If you have a service based, Business to Business model though – think again. If you are the face of the business, if you and your brain and services are what people are paying for, do you really need a full time or part time employee?
Some Business Owners still say yes. Do any of these sound familiar?
- “No one will be as passionate about this business unless they watch me work. I need an employee who can shadow me and see how much love and dedication I have to this business.”
- “I want someone whose livelihood is dependent on this the way mine is so I know the work will be taken seriously”
- “I want to give someone a chance to help me and my company make a difference”
Now, all of these are valid points. And they are ones I’ve heard time and time again. But, as your Small Business Bestie, I’ve got to drop a little truth on you here:
NO ONE is going to be as passionate about your business as you are. Period. End of discussion. It is your business, your baby, and no matter how much you train someone their level of love for the business may never match yours.
This is where a Virtual Assistant can come in handy. If you have things that need to get done, don’t just make a full time or even part time job out of it. Hiring someone with experience who requires little on-boarding and can get the job done will save you headaches and allow you to find more time concentrate on the true meat of your business.
Still not fully convinced? I get it. Here are a bunch of reasons it really is so much better to hire a freelance Virtual Assistant instead of getting your own employee.
- If you’re looking for a “mini me” as a small business owner, the truth is that you’ll be looking for someone just as ambitious as you. And if you’re the kind of small business owner who left your full time job “working for this man” because you didn’t want to have the restraints of a traditional 9-5, you have to face the facts: This person you hire probably doesn’t want to be working for someone else, either. This person probably has an eventual goal of being their own boss. So this person will learn from you and certainly you might develop an amazing relationship, but at the end of the day this person might leave you. You never want to be too dependent on someone.
- You might not be able to afford a true professional or expert, and have to settle for someone with a small amount of experience. This means you’ll be spending valuable time teaching your new employee basics around the office. Think of how much you charge a client for an hourly project. Is that the amount of money you want to be spending to on-board someone, in addition to paying their hourly rates? You’ll have to double check their work for the first couple of weeks, and if you make the mistake of hiring someone that is incredibly under qualified you’ll have to figure out a way to show them this isn’t working. And that is a HUGE waste of time.
- When you hire someone who does not have a lot of experience, you hire someone who has no ideas or insights in how your company can do better. Sure, you’d be able to “mold” someone to do things exactly the way you do them. But you lose the possibility of collaboration and obtaining an experienced perspective if you surround yourself with “yes” men. When you do decide to look for a different, more experienced opinion you will then have to hire a consultant. And that is just more money.
- You might not be as great of a boss as you think you are. I’m sorry, but this is true. I’ve had bosses who really hated the corporate culture only to essentially recreate it in their offices. When you’re running a business you have a LOT on your plate, and sometimes being a great boss is not a high priority. You have goals to meet and you have projects to finish. It is perfectly understandable, and when you are under a lot of pressure it can be difficult to maintain a true sense of self awareness. Hiring employees only to accidentally make them miserable just leads to more turnover and more wasted time.
Depending on where you are in your business, it might be the right time to have an employee working with and for you. But most of the Small Business Owners I have met really just need basic administrative work done, or help implementing marketing strategies. They’ll make a full time job out of it because they want someone who they can trust and someone who is going to only be dedicated to them and their company. But the truth is…
If you want to hire someone who will actually add value to your company in addition to getting all the work done, a freelancer is the way to go.
The idea of hiring a Virtual Assistant initially really scared me. I didn’t love the idea that I would be sharing my work and ideas with someone who wasn’t dedicated to me. But I didn’t have the money to hire an employee. So I took the dive, interviewed a few people, and hired someone who really helped. I realized how much it forced me to get my processes together and stay on task. And now that I am a Virtual Assistant myself, I see all the ways I can help Small Business Owners and their companies. It’s different than being an employee, and truthfully it is better than hiring an employee. Here’s what a Virtual Assistant can do for you:
The Ways A Virtual Assistant Can Help You + Your Business. A VA Will…
Keep You on Track and on Task
Knowing you have a Virtual Assistant means that, while you’re not responsible for someone’s livelihood necessarily, you have someone to share the work load with. And if you have someone to delegate to and someone to share the work with you have someone to answer to. Even if you thrive off of working alone, everyone can benefit from having someone keep them accountable. If you pre-pay for a certain amount of hours but don’t provide enough workload, a VA will reach out to you asking for projects, forcing you to stay on track and on task.
Force You to Streamline Your Processes
The moment you start delegating, you’ll realize you need to have detailed instructions on how to do all the millions of things you do. Each task usually has a sub set of tasks, and the lists can go on and on. Having a Virtual Assistant requires you to take all the knowledge you’ve been keeping in your head and write it down. It might be annoying the first time you do it, but when you finally do write down all your processes you’ll discover one of three things:
- That your systems are awesome and organized. Pat yourself on the back!
- That your systems are outdated or not effective and could be more time efficient.
- That you DON’T have systems and need to get some, asap!
No matter what you discover before you start delegating, you’ll immediately start to get organized. Some people fall into the whole “By the time I write it all down I could have done it myself!” – don’t be the person who falls for that! If you write it down ONCE it will take some time, sure, but think of the HOURS you’ll save yourself in the long run.
Handle All Your Administrative Work
You started a business to do what you love – but unfortunately doing what you love always requires organizational tasks or basic administrative work that isn’t super fun. A virtual assistant can tackle all of that for you. Think about all the time you’ve wasted cue-ing up your facebook, twitter, or instagram posts. Think about all the time you’ve wasted creating pinterest graphics in Canva or photoshop. Think about all the time you’l spent recording payments or sending out email reminders to clients. Think about all the time you have spent promoting yourself instead of doing the actual fun work that you love!
None of this is by any means a waste of time, but it is a waste of YOUR time if it is way below your pay grade! Let’s say you make $90/hour off of client projects. Now think about it: you wouldn’t pay someone $90/hour to do social media posting. So why on earth would you be doing these things yourself if your billable hours are $90 each? Having a Virtual Assistant handle this stuff for you brings you peace of mind and frees up your time to do more of what makes you money.
Handle Your Marketing
Marketing yourself is a very necessary step to making sure you have clients. But sometimes we get so focused working in our businesses that we forget to work ON our businesses. Even if you have a good amount of clients on retainer, it is imperative to continue a marketing strategy. Failing to plan is planning to fail, after all!
A Virtual Assistant can take your complex marketing plan and put the strategy in place. If you worked really hard to define marketing goals and are overwhelmed by the amount of steps it takes to meet them, do not worry. A good Virtual Assistant will be able to take all of that off your plate so you can concentrate on the client work that makes your business successful.
It is usually best to expect a Virtual Assistant to take your strategies and put them into play. Don’t expect all VAs to be able to make a marketing plan for you.
Handle All Your Busy Work
Sometimes it’s little things: reminding clients of payments, adding in additional payment structures, adding in color coded items to your calendars and spreadsheets, etc. These are systems we wouldn’t be able to live without, but at the end of the day these small tasks eat up so much of our time. As a business owner who likely dabbles in a lot of creative work, sometimes these things just not a good use of your time. If you are feeling super productive, wouldn’t you rather do the real work that generates real money? These other things are necessary to the function of your business, but if they’re simple enough to teach someone else you really should.
VAs have different kinds of experiences. If you take the chance of hiring someone who is not as experienced as a Virtual Assistant in order to save money, you lose out on valuable insight that more seasoned professionals can provide.
All Virtual Assistants should be able to provide feedback to you about your business based on the work they have done for previous clients, the work they do for themselves, and the degrees or certificates they hold.
A Virtual Assistant can change your business, up your productivity, and allow you to increase your profits.
And finding a good Virtual Assistant is very similar to finding a good employee, except that you’re not responsible for this person’s livelihood. A level of professionalism is expected in a different level because a VA considers you a client. There is a lot of pressure on a Virtual Assistant to succeed and help you be your best. A good VA will take that incredibly seriously.
The value of having a Virtual Assistant is truly incredible. Many VAs will offer small packages on a week, month, or project basis so you can feel comfortable knowing you’re not jumping in right away. Take your time, interview people, get to know them, ask for samples of their work. Investing in your business with a VA is the ideal way to get you and your business to level up. You got this!