I started my Virtual Assistant (or VA) business in September 2015 and I find I get asked the same questions time and time again by perspective clients as well as my friends and family. I have written the following article to try and answer some of these questions
Who can use a Virtual Assistant?
The short answer to this is – anybody and everybody. The Virtual Assistant service came in to play for the people that can’t justify having a full time employed Personal / Executive Assistant but are desperate for help in their busy office or home lives
What does a Virtual Assistant do?
There are many services that a Virtual Assistant can provide and different VA’s specialise in different areas – for example, a VA could specialise in Social Media, Marketing, Bookkeeping or Event Planning. On top of this most Virtual Assistants will be able to help you with anything an administrator or secretary would usually do and the majority of VA’s will be able to help you with getting organised, booking travel, research and e-mail & diary management. If you think of what you would expect a Personal Assistant to do a Virtual Assistant can do exactly the same and will usually have a long and successful Personal Assistant background
Why hire a Virtual Assistant instead of a Personal Assistant?
You should hire a VA instead of a PA if you need help but you can’t fill 40 hours a week of someone’s time – who wants to pay someone a very good salary for sitting twiddling their thumbs or doing work below their paygrade? The flexibility of a Virtual Assistant appeals to a lot of people too – you can use your VA as little or as often as you like. There is no holiday or sickness pay that you will need to pay out for your Virtual Assistant, and also, you won’t need to provide any equipment or office space for them as they will already have their own
How can I justify the cost of a Virtual Assistant?
Many people feel that hiring a VA is a luxury, they think “I can do everything myself so why pay somebody else to do it for me?” I really believe this is not the case. Everybody has their strengths and they should work to them. There is a really simple formula you can use which shows how much sense it actually makes to use a Virtual Assistant. The following figures are only examples and you would need to use actual figures to make it work for you but it gives you a general idea
- MD charges their time out at £100 an hour, it takes them 2 hours a week to generate sales invoices and send them out
- VA charges their time out at £25 an hour, it would only take them 1 hour a week to generate the same amount of sales invoices and send them out
- Using these figures it costs the MD £10,400 (£200 per week x 52 weeks) per year to invoice clients when they would only need to pay a Virtual Assistant £1,300 (£25 per week x 52 weeks) per year
By playing to peoples’ strengths things get done much more efficiently and cost effectively. MD can now use those 2 hours a week as billable time and actually make more profit – who doesn’t want to be more profitable? So the question is – how can I NOT justify the cost of a Virtual Assistant?
How do I decide what to delegate to a Virtual Assistant?
The first thing you need to do is pull a list together of everything you do on a daily basis and create a table with this information. This needs to be a detailed list so don’t just put “Accounts” break it down in to the different portions of your accounts eg. Sales Invoicing, Bank Reconciliation, Pay Suppliers, Credit Control etc and next to each of these sections guestimate how long you spend on each one. When you have done this you can have a look down the list and be really honest with yourself about what you believe your VA could do more efficiently than you and what tasks you feel comfortable delegating
How do I know how many hours I need a Virtual Assistant for?
Using the table you have created from the above section and looking at what you have decided to delegate you can add up the time that it takes you to carry out these tasks and discuss with your VA how long they feel those task might take them and you then have a starting point of how many hours per week or month you will need your VA to work for you. Most Virtual Assistants do packages so that the more hours you use the cheaper the hourly rate
How do I find the right Virtual Assistant for me?
From the table you have created you will know if you need your VA to specialise in a certain area of expertise so you could search for that using your search engine, eg. “Virtual Assistant Bookkeeping”. Some people like to use a VA that is close to home, this varies from person to person but I have found that all of my clients are in the same city as me and they have all wanted to meet me face to face too – what I do holds a position of trust so I totally understand this but remember not all VA’s will want to meet with you, if this is something that you require you can ask the question in your initial contact. You may also find that people that you know already use a VA that they can refer you to so ask around, you never know. You could put messages out on social media sites for help – eg. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook – most VA’s will have a social media presence.
If you do have any further questions regarding Virtual Assistants, Carla Fallows would love for you to get in touch via her website: www.invaluableva.com