By Jennifer Goforth Gregory
Many business owners find their to-do list overloaded, but may not have enough capital or even enough work for a full-time employee. One solution that many owners are increasingly turning to is the virtual assistant. According to the International Association of Virtual Assistants, “Virtual assistants are independent contractors who (from a remote location, usually their home or office) support multiple clients in a variety of industries by providing administrative, creative, and technical services.” What better way to keep up with your small business' emarketing campaign?
How a virtual assistant can help
Companies use virtual assistants for a variety of tasks, including scheduling, spreadsheets, editing and client communication. Often the specific tasks that a virtual assistant performs depends on the industry and the assistant’s experience. For example, a VA with an accounting background may do bookkeeping, while someone who is a skilled writer may write the monthly newsletter or update your blog.
“I use a virtual assistant to help me with basic research assignments that would allow me to jump into the meat of the project,” says Matthew DiGeronimo, a mergers and acquisitions specialist. When he was representing the sale of an internal medicine practice in Hawaii, part of the project was to send letters to all medical schools offering internal medicine programs. “I focused on writing the letter and had the VA create a list of 100 schools,” says DiGeronimo. He also uses his VA to update his contact list, which syncs to his phone, by entering information from every business card and email he has received.
Virtual assistant: Real-life benefits
Using a virtual assistant allows you to eliminate the overhead of a full-time employee, such as medical benefits and office space. At the same time, you and your staff will be freed up to focus on other things. “Having a VA has enabled me to shift focus away from non-revenue producing tasks and spend more time on cultivating direct relationships with my clients,” says Jack Klemeyer with GYB Coaching. Other businesses find that they are able to increase their offerings by hiring a VA.
Laurie Erdman, founder of Chronic Wellness Coaching, has gotten twice as much work done and increased her revenue by 300 percent after hiring a VA two years ago. “I have been able to offer twice as many offerings (products and courses) as I was before by being able to delegate,” says Erdman “My VA would do all the back end implementation while I could focus on creating content.”
Will a virtual assistant increase your productivity?
If you are considering using a virtual assistant, do a cost analysis to determine the benefit to your company. “In the months leading up to hiring, make a daily list of the tasks you are doing that are not the best use of your time or skill set or those that you really hate doing,” says Erdman. She says that you can later use this list as a job description for your VA. Then write down all of the things that you would be accomplishing with the extra time and determine the amount of revenue that these tasks could bring to your business. Be sure to factor in reduced overtime wages or just general quality-of-life issues as well. Calculate the cost of a virtual assistant, which typically charge $30 to $60 per hour depending on the specialty, and compare the cost to the increased revenue you could bring in by delegating these tasks.
In part 2 of this series, we'll look at how you can begin your search for the right virtual assistant.