Virtual Assistants are the Best-Kept Secret of Modern Productivity
Despite bold visions and big plans, it's all too easy for entrepreneurs to become bogged down
by the mundane tasks involved in building a successful enterprise. Even when you put in long
hours and personal sacrifice, it can be a struggle to get everything done. This is often the
turning point that determines the success or failure of a start-up venture. Will you adapt and
delegate effectively, or will you burn out as a one-person show?
In any company, there are a few critical tasks which can't be ignored but can distract
entrepreneurs from the work they do best. This is especially true for small companies or
start-ups who are not ready to hire full-time support staff.
A virtual assistant (VA) can come to the rescue. It's becoming common to hire an individual
who works on your behalf from a remote location, taking care of the crucial tasks that could
easily be done more efficiently by someone else, leaving you free to do higher-level work.
A virtual assistant can handle everything from answering emails to developing your marketing
strategy. Here's why it's time to consider hiring one of your own.
1. VAs Work Within Your Budget
You know you need help, but you're not ready to hire a full-time administrative employee.
There's a great degree of flexibility with virtual assistants which makes hiring a possibility
for business owners. Establish what you can afford to pay, then find a professional who will
work within those parameters. You don't have to pay benefits or get locked into a long-term
contract. They can work on their own time, or establish a routine which works well with your
office hours and schedule.
2. They Can Fill Multiple Roles
Maybe you need more basic or specific help, such as a receptionist or someone to update Excel
files. Perhaps you would benefit from higher-level support, such as a virtual business manager
capable of creating the processes and forms that your growing company needs. VAs can also be
personal assistants, managing a mix of business and personal tasks. Whatever support you need,
there's a virtual assistant who can help.
3. They Help You Stay Connected With Customers
It's a 24/7 world, and in business, two of the most time-sensitive tasks are responding to
customer communications and handling your social media presence. It's critical to devote the
resources necessary to stay on top of both. If a customer reaches out to you either by email
or in a post on your company's social media page, you need to respond immediately, not when it
comes to your attention a week later. Having a person dedicated to serving as the social media
eyes and ears of your company can help you protect your brand and stay responsive to your
4. They Bring Valuable Skill Sets to Your Company
Some VAs have specific areas of expertise such as marketing, writing, social media, HR
functions or bookkeeping. When hiring a VA, whether through an agency or on an individual
basis, do so with an understanding of the experience and abilities you need most to ensure you
get a good fit. Be realistic; while you may get lucky with someone who can do it all, it's not
likely you'll find one person to do the job of several people, crafting emails, basic
administrative tasks, developing engaging online content and managing your books.
5. VAs Allow You to Delegate
Small business owners are (understandably) used to doing everything themselves, though this
strategy wears thin when you're putting in 100-hour work weeks. Working with a VA lets you
exercise your delegating muscles, a talent that will serve you well as your business grows.
Start by developing a thorough job description. The clearer you can state your needs, the more
successful the experience will be for both of you. Like anything else, you get out what you
put in, so it will require an initial investment of time, thought and training to hand work
over. However, this up-front investment will provide more freedom to do the things that only
you can do.
6. They'll Grow With Your Company
You may start a VA with tasks like data entry, managing your email inbox or making travel
arrangements, but as they succeed in those tasks, they may be ready to take on more
responsibility. This is a great way to test-drive support staff and identify people who can
develop into key players for your business.