Do you ever start work in the morning and before you know it lunch time arrives?
It feels like you’ve achieved nothing but wade through admin, answer emails and update some online profiles.
And you’ve ticked nothing off your todo list…
If you’ve not experienced this then you’ve got a guardian angel looking out for you (or an awesome virtual assistant)
To be honest with you, before sitting down to write this article about the benefits of a virtual assistant I spent 2 hours tidying my email inbox… a job I should really delegate so I can concentrate on what really needs to be done.
That’s the benefit of a virtual assistant in a nutshell – enabling you to get on with business! If you want to find more about what a virtual assistant can do plus the many benefits then keep reading.
What Can a Virtual Assistant Do?
A virtual assistant is a self-employed freelance worker providing admin services remotely over the internet.
Because virtual assistants usually work from home and are not employed as a full-time office staff member they can provide extra support for businesses in an efficient manner.
Generally, they take care of specific office tasks that are time-consuming for employees with other skill sets. Most commonly, a VA will do basic administrative tasks including scheduling, appointments, travel arrangements, email management, web content and other online jobs.
Some assistants work on regular office tasks while others provide a more defined specialist service like bookkeeping, social media or marketing assistance.
Here’s a list of common jobs that Virtual Assistants take on:
- Office admin
- Secretary work
- Audio transcribing
- Data entry
- Spreadsheet management
- Appointments and schedule bookings
- Database management
- Document Editing
- IT management
- Photo and video editing
- SEO updates
- Blog writing
- Social media
- General marketing assistance
- Market research
To be honest, you can find a VA to do almost any tasks these days even if it is a one-off job or regular work.
When Should You Hire a Virtual Assistant?
You might be wondering if you really need to hire a virtual assistant to do jobs that you could quite easily do yourself or just get one of your full-time employees to do.
While this may be true, hiring a virtual assistant helps to manage your workload.
Yes, you could spend time answering emails and doing data entry but the question to ask yourself is – Could you time be spent better elsewhere?
While you’re spending time doing menial tasks you could be selling or focusing on big picture stuff!
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by admin and paperwork or you need a specific set of skills then a virtual assistant might be perfect for your business.
What are the Benefits of a Virtual Assistant?
Everyone finds different benefits in hiring a virtual assistant depending on your business and personal goals.
After discussing the subject with businesses leaders using VAs, here are the most common advantages they found:
1. Cheaper than a traditional employee
Hiring a freelancer is more cost-effective than hiring a full-time member of staff for a number of reasons. To start with, you won’t be paying a full-time salary to a Virtual Assistant.
Hiring freelancers mean also save money on payroll additions including:
- Employer National Insurance
- Pension Contributions
- Sick Pay
- Holiday Pay
As independent contractors are self-employed they are in charge of their own taxes, expenses and don’t get paid if they don’t work. Don’t be surprised freelance work commands a higher hourly rate than an employee to take into account the above. That being said, your freelancer won’t be working full time! It is likely they will have a number of different clients they work with to build their income.
Be aware, if your VA only works for you to earn their income governments tightening up on what counts as an ‘employee’ or ‘freelancer’. Freelance employees do have a tradeoff for both sides, just as you can decide if you need your VA to work they can also decline to work.
2. Increase productivity
Do you know how productive or unproductive your staff are?
For instance, it is thought that on average office staff in the UK work the longest hours yet are the least productive getting through just 3 hours of productive work a day!
The reasons for this could be any number of reasons including being overloaded with mundane office tasks or taking on jobs workers are not skilled in.
Hiring a virtual assistant helps to increase productivity in a number of different ways. Firstly, freelance workers usually work in a more efficient manner, getting more done in a shorter amount of time.
I can tell you from personal experience when doing freelance work you have more sense of urgency and results. Nobody is paying you to have a cup of coffee and chat. Equally, competition is fierce so hitting deadlines is imperative.
You’ll also be able to increase your employees’ productivity by outsourcing repetitive time-consuming admin tasks, freeing up time and energy to work on more meaningful tasks. Your VA can keep the important background work ticking over while you and your team get down to business.
3. Added flexibility
You can do away the usual 9-5 with a virtual assistant and work around a schedule that fits the work needing to be completed. You can develop a schedule to maximize output without overspending.
Many people even work with freelancers in different timezones. For my SEO and content writing agency, I’ve had people working while I sleep to create almost 24 hours worth of productive output. While I slept, my VA would research, prep and plan my articles so when I started work each morning everything was ready for me to get on with writing and creating. It created an almost non-stop conveyor belt of work!
Less deadtime, more output.
4. Improved work quality and efficiency
The thing all people worry about is the quality of results. Can a virtual assistant really do the job to your expected levels?
Well, depending on the work there might be a little training to be done and teething issues. With the right worker over time, you will see an improvement in work being delivered by everybody involved.
With someone focussing directly on your delegated tasks you can relax knowing they are being taken care of. A virtual assistant might well be completing your emails, updating websites, posting on social media. The sort of jobs that can end up at the bottom of your to-do list when business is busy. For example, a VA can reply quickly to email enquiries and organise them for you to easily work with. Customers get fast responses and you can concentrate your time on other tasks.
5. Less risk in scaling business
If business is busy but you’re not sure if things will continue to grow then hiring a freelance VA could be just for you.
Full-time employees are expensive and add an extra level of responsibility to your business. You’re responsible for more people’s livelihood plus you’ll have added tasks such as payroll.
If you’re in the process of scaling up your business but don’t want to risk more full-time staff then a VA helps to bridge the gap. Should things not go to plan then you are not committed to paying a staff member. If you continue to grow, then great more work for your freelancer or you can take on employees!
6. Specific skills to turbo-boost your company
One thing businesses absolutely love about virtual assistants is the ability to fill skill gaps in the company. In fact, the freelance ‘gig’ economy is a growing trend allowing businesses to benefit from highly skill-specific individuals.
Small businesses can now hire SEO experts, customer service, bookkeepers to suit their needs and budget.
Freelancers usually focus on a very particular niche with a select set of skills, equipment and knowledge-based. Businesses can tap talent pools for one-off projects or something short or medium term. You could delegate writing jobs to a full-time employee but it might not yield the same results as a specialist. Freelancers fit perfectly for projects requiring specific skills, you can almost just plug them into your company for a turbo boost.
7. Bring focus to your work
Focus is hard to come by these days. We move in a fast-paced world where people expect instant email replies, phones to be answered and bills to be paid in an instant.
In fact, just this morning I was distracted for a good 2 hours tidying up my inbox and checking website stats.
Having someone take care of tasks like this immediately helps you to focus on what you really need to get done. Or at least remove the excuses. Instead of spending energy on crafting email replies and filling in forms you could delegate and get back to making sales, delivering your service or whatever else you do.
8. More free time
As the old saying goes, time is money.
I know multiple business owners who happily trade money for time. If you can afford the luxury of paying someone to take on some of your workload you could be spending more time enjoying your life. Instead of working on a Sunday morning to catch up on emails, you could be spending time with family and friends. If we’re being cheesy, perhaps that’s the biggest benefit of a virtual assistant, time…
Where to Find a Virtual Assistant?
There are a number of places to hire virtual assistants from all over the world. Here’s some places to start:
- Upwork – A freelancing platform bringing freelancers and companies together
- Fiverr – Find workers to perform tasks for a fixed price
- People Per Hour – UK based platform to find freelancers
That’s it, the biggest advantages of hiring a virtual assistant for your business. From increasing productivity to more free time there’s really a lot to like about using freelance workers.