There are so many things to think about when your business is growing:
That’s why you should be considering a virtual assistant.
The thing is, you need more information.
Like, a lot more.
You need to know if a VA is the right option for your business.
And you need to know if it’s a risk you shouldn’t be taking.
Question is, how can you work that out?
Hint: by reading this article!
You don’t just want to hear all the ways a VA could benefit your business.
(Although there are a lot you probably haven’t thought of!)
You need to know some of the issues you might encounter.
You need to be prepared for anything and everything.
You don’t have the time to spend hours looking for a VA to find it’s not right for you or your business.
You need concise and reliable information to help you decide.
My client - who’s photography business was experiencing substantial growth - was considering a VA to help with the administrative work (also substantially growing) on their desk.
They considered adding a full-time employee to their staff, but ultimately knew it would be a risky move.
Instead they decided to outsource the admin to a VA at a much lower price.
The increased flexibility was perfect for them and they could begin the upscaling process without the risks of adding new employees.
So that’s exactly what they did, as profits grew - 39% over 3 years - he was able to cope with the admin work but didn’t put his business at risk the few months that didn’t see much income.
If these kinds of concerns are on your mind then a virtual assistant may be exactly what you need.
But first I will take you through some of the advantages and disadvantages that I’m sure will be on your mind.
In this article I will take you through:
- How you can save time and money
- How you and your business can become more productive
- How a VA can unlock the potential of you and your business
- The possible issues you should be aware of when hiring a VA
- How you can address these issues.
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Time and money. Man’s best friend.
(Yes, there’s something about dogs but who are we kidding...)
And thanks to VAs you can save on both of these things.
Full-time employees are entitled to a full set of benefits, including holiday and sick pay.
A Virtual Assistant is self-employed, meaning you will pay them at an hourly rate or on a per-project basis.
That’s right - you only pay for their productive hours!
Without the cost of employee benefits, you could save a lot of money for your business.
This is unsurprisingly the most common and sought after benefit of hiring a VA amongst business owners.
In fact, many of my clients have turned to a VA as a solution to a wide variety of needs for their business:
Without the finance, workload or resources for a full-time employee, they needed a cheaper option for solving a diverse range of problems.
For example, my client - the brains behind a tech startup - needed their admin work done but being in the early stages of their business, they were not able to employ someone full-time.
By hiring a VA they solved all these problems!
At their disposal.
But it’s not just your money that will be saved...
Let’s face it - you can’t do everything all at once.
So, why not offload those tasks that can be completed by someone else?
Taking on all your business’s work is inevitably going to have a detrimental effect on what you are trying to achieve.
You can’t be at your most productive when you’re stressed.
But with a lighter workload your time and effort is spent on tasks that further your business.
Sounds good to me!
Imagine the advantage you would have over your competition if your time was only spent on the core tasks of your business...
And without your time being consumed by those pesky admin tasks, it can be better spent.
You can finally lead your business forward.
Below is a table for how your business can benefit from saving you time and money:
Saving Your Money
Cutting unnecessary costs is vital for any small business.
Maybe you just need to keep your expenditure to a minimum...
Or maybe you can invest the money you have saved into other more important areas of your business!
Take my tech startup client - they reinvested their saved money into improving their product.
With VAs based all over the world there are always competitive rates.
Saving Your Time
Hiring someone for any position within your business is time-consuming, enough.
But then they may need to be trained or at least introduced to their role.
Your VA will have plenty of experience both as an in-house assistant and as a VA.
This can keep the hiring and training process to a minimum.
Using Your Resources More Efficiently
Now your money and time is being saved, it’s up to you what you do with it.
Maybe you have a bigger budget for the skill-based roles in your business.
Or, perhaps you have more time for doing what you love, both in your personal and professional life.
Your VA could use their expertise to improve the functioning of certain areas within your business.
From a financial standpoint a VA’s most significant impact on your business could be the freedom to scale up your operations.
A VA can help in this process by alleviating the worry you may have when it comes to cash flow; you can terminate the contract of your VA quickly and easily if it is not working out.
Sure, the financial savings in comparison to a full-time employee is usually the most appealing benefit of hiring a VA for most business owners...
But the time freed up for yourself or your staff is often just as valuable.
Go on, take back the hours in the day!
You now know you’re going to have a lot more time to focus on the important operations of your business.
So, you’re already more productive than before.
But there are other ways that your business will see improvements:
The flexibility provided by a VA could vastly improve the day-to-day running of your company.
Do you have work left at the end of the day that you wish could be done by the next morning?
Tasks that will consume the first couple of hours of the workday?
Tasks that will zap your early morning energy in the process?
My client, the CEO of a graphic design business had this exact problem.
And boy, it was holding him and his business back...
But it was the introduction of a VA from a different time zone which meant he could assign his administration tasks at the end of the workday.
He can rest easy knowing those tasks will be completed by the next morning...
And focus on his clients from the moment he sits down at his desk.
India and the Philippines are the most popular countries for VAs.
This is because their rates are often very affordable without having to compromise on the quality of the assistant.
Plus, a different time zone might come in handy!
Some industries and tasks may require operations around the clock:
Your website might need 24-hour monitoring...
Or you need to be able to receive inquiries at unsociable hours…
Whatever the reason, with a team of VAs, it's all possible!
(And possible whilst pocketing a pretty penny, too.)
If you’ve already spent more than you need to on a full-time employee, you need to know you’re going to consistently need their input.
Your business’s workload tends to fluctuate month to month, doesn’t it?
You can’t be paying for a full-time assistant that you only need a few hours a week, can you?
With a VA you have the flexibility to only hire when you have tasks that need doing.
So, you can skip a week or a month if you don’t need the assistance.
And if you do need it, hire more VAs.
It’s really that simple!
The modern VA is a far more skilled worker than they are given credit for.
Sure, plenty are capable of performing your secretarial tasks and administration, but to limit their skills to just that would be greatly underestimating their abilities.
There are VAs who specialise in a whole range of niches that could prove invaluable to your business…
Does your business excel in everything it needs to?
You’d be wrong to think VAs are one size fits all.
Your business is one of a kind!
As your needs will be different from any other, your VA’s skillset will need to complement your business and your team.
With a clear guideline for what you need, you'll be able to find a VA that fills in any gaps in your teams' capabilities.
Strengthening any weak areas in your business could be the difference that sets you apart from your competitors.
One of my clients who ran an interior design business needed to fill in the gaps in their teams' expertise.
Sure, they were experts when it came to designing a room...
They considered a full-time employee but weren’t sure it was the right choice for them at this stage of the business.
They wanted all the benefits of a VA of course - but didn’t think a VA could provide the necessary experience and know-how.
But after careful consideration, they found the perfect VA.
Their VA was able to make sure all their needs were met as well as provide expert advice on how they could improve their business’s online presence.
Now they don’t just talk about all the money and time they saved thanks to their VA…
The impact was much more than that!
A 21% increase in sales over a 6 month period after their VA implemented the new online strategy is what they brag about.
Their business improved thanks to their new approach to digital marketing.
The key to that new approach?
Their VA of course!
Below are some other common VA specialties:
Whether you need to research for a book, a project, or a business, a specialist VA can help!
VAs can research within any industry they are hired into.
Some even claim internet research as a dedicated niche and can save you hours.
They can also provide legal research for your business.
Clearly, they are very skilled in researching efficiently and finding obscure information that could be of help to you.
Most businesses can benefit greatly from quality content on their website.
Consider my interior design client again:
With the help of a digital marketing expert they were able to fill their website with content that produced leads.
Contrary to what some might say, not just anyone can produce great content!
A specialist VA will be able to write for your audience, with an engaging tone and in a concise manner.
Many businesses within a variety of industries may occasionally have the need to plan an event.
A VA can be hired to make sure everything runs smoothly.
They can help at every stage of your event, no matter its size and no matter the type.
From finding a venue, organising travel arrangements and planning the technical needs like high-quality audio and video, your VA has got you covered!
You should now be very aware of all the great benefits of hiring a VA.
But I know what you’re thinking.
“What’s the catch?”
Well, there are some possible disadvantages to consider.
Maybe the assistance you need does require someone in-house...
After all, it’s difficult to argue against physical interaction and collaboration being the ideal conditions for working!
Of course, modern communication technology certainly narrows the gap - but it can only do so much.
When relying on technology to communicate, you are at the mercy of your own and your VAs internet connection.
It may be unlikely to cause a major problem for a prolonged period of time but unforeseen circumstances can occur and are often very frustrating for everyone.
Plus, whilst there are benefits to the availability of worldwide VAs such as the competitive rates, the popularity of places like India, China, and the Philippines for VAs means language and cultural barriers need to be considered.
However, it shouldn’t take long to determine your potential VAs grasp of your language during the hiring process.
If you are careful during your search this should not be too much of a problem.
Communicating exactly what you mean through instant messaging, email or even an audio or video call can be difficult but is key for any VA - native speaker or not.
On top of that, trying to communicate with a non-native speaker who comes from a very different cultural background to yourself could be a great deal of hassle...
Hassle you don’t need when you have a business to run.
Below are some of the possible obstacles you might face with a VA:
There May Be Communication Issues
The most popular locations for VAs are not native English speaking countries such as India and the Philippines.
But it’s not just the language barriers that could prove to be a problem; the cultural differences between you and your VA could cause communication problems, too.
My client, the owner of an online clothing store needed help monitoring and maintaining their website.
A VA made perfect sense - the only concern was being able to effectively communicate about something as complex as website maintenance.
But after interviewing candidates they found a VA with the necessary skills - and they’re a fluent English speaker.
It Is More Difficult To Supervise Your Assistant
Due to some of the communication issues mentioned above, keeping an eye on your VA can be that much more difficult.
Updating your VAs workload and giving feedback would likely become a more effort and time-consuming task.
Checking up on the quality of their work and ensuring they are being as productive as possible will also become more challenging.
If clarification or suggestions are needed accurately communicating them to your VA will require more of your effort.
There Could Be Increased Security Risks
In order to complete tasks you delegate to your VA, they may need access to sensitive information.
Transferring information and data to your VA that you would like to keep disclosed will always be at risk however you send them.
Perhaps the nature of your industry requires the handling of sensitive data or increased discretion.
It will be of the utmost importance to inform your VA of any specific security needs.
It is very important to thoroughly check the background of your VA to avoid any security or data issues.
The top-rated VAs are very likely to have multiple clients.
You are probably imagining your VA having a pile of work to get through, right?
And those huge piles of admin work which we are all trying to avoid?
It is worth trying to assess the number of clients, the workload and hours the VAs you are considering may have.
Whilst this could be something you cannot truly know, it is something you can ask the VAs you choose to interview.
As you already know, a VAs ability to make money is dependent on the time they can provide to a business owner like yourself.
So understandably many VAs want as many clients and hours as possible...
Leaving some at the risk of burnout if they overdo it.
Or, they could prioritise the clients they enjoy working for over others.
Maybe juggling too many clients will cause confusion and have a detrimental effect on the quality of their work.
Your business is obviously your only concern so you need to know your VA is giving you their all, too.
Ultimately, VAs are professionals with experience and will certainly be aware that if they overstretch themselves it will lead to less work for them in the long run.
When it comes to assistants, business owners are only concerned with quality, efficiency and meeting deadlines.
I’m sure you will agree with that.
The best VAs will be aware of what is expected of them.
The possible problems you may face when hiring a VA should definitely be taken seriously...
However, they are not impossible to overcome.
Every business decision you make will involve weighing up the pros and cons and trying to minimise the negatives.
Consider the potential communication problems again:
You will quickly get a grasp of someone's fluency in a given language through a well-designed hiring process.
Whether it is a task you set, a Skype interview - or even both - it shouldn’t be too much of a challenge to assess language proficiency.
If your VA has previous experience working with businesses from your country, then it is safe to say that they have become accustomed to the cultural differences that may cause an issue.
Regardless, communicating with your VA and being open with them on any issues will keep things running smoothly.
It is equally important to encourage them to communicate any of their issues with you so your working relationship is a healthy one.
At the end of the day VAs are professionals and will behave as such.
But communication and openness goes a long way to bridge cultural gaps.
That’s a language everyone can understand!
My client, the founder of a digital marketing agency, needed their VA to be able to speak with clients as well as complete standard admin work.
Sure, she had plenty of VAs available to her - however, working out who of them had the necessary skills was not easy.
She needed a trustworthy VA who’s fluent in English and able to communicate confidently with clients and potential clients.
Through a well-designed hiring process - involving an English test and an interview - She was able to assess who was the best fit for what her business needed.
Now her business is thriving, their number of clients are up 47% and many report a great customer service experience.
Below are some further solutions to potential problems you may encounter when hiring a VA:
There Are Still Ways To Supervise Your VA
The VA industry is very competitive.
VAs know that if they do not perform to the standards you expect you will find someone who will.
It follows that it is very rare to need to monitor your VAs productivity.
There is also various software that makes supervising your VA and giving feedback far easier.
You Can Still Keep Everything Secure
Extensive background research and a detailed hiring process will ensure your VA can be trusted.
If your industry involves the handling of sensitive data hiring a VA with relevant experience could give you peace of mind.
With appropriate research, you can make a judgment on what platform gives the most protection for communicating with your VA.
You Can Always Count On Quality!
We can’t guarantee that your VA won’t have multiple clients, but we can guarantee they will work hard for you and your business.
VAs want consistent work, and the best way to guarantee that is by being a valuable asset to their clients.
For the hours you are paying them you get 100% of your VAs focus and effort.
Every hour will be productive and therefore valuable.
Read More: Should You Hire A Virtual Assistant?
As you can see the potential disadvantages of virtual assistants can be minimised.
They could be serious problems if ignored - but with some thought and planning, they shouldn’t pose a threat to your business.
Ultimately - with a fine-tuned hiring process and detailed research - you will find a great VA that suits your business’ needs, all the while saving you money.
And that adds up to an advantageous business solution!
Now it's over to you:
What kind of tasks are you considering a VA for?
And how will your business benefit?