What’s A VA?

Are you looking for flexible admin, PA or business support ?

Then maybe it’s time you considered a virtual assistant.  Avoid the hassle of employing a permanent member of staff and instead, enjoy the flexibility of on-demand support and expertise only when you need it rather than paying for someone full time. 

What is a Virtual Assistant?

In a nutshell, a virtual assistant supports you in the same way as an employed member of staff – but remotely, from their own home, using their equipment.

We live in a world of technological advantage. No longer is there a need for an assistant to be physically present in order to fully support you. Think about it – when you employ a member of staff, you need to provide them with enough work to keep them busy; an office, computer, printer, equipment, stationery; you need to pay a salary, national insurance contributions, sick pay, maternity/paternity, holidays. On a typical day, how many productive hours do you get? How much time is lost through chit-chat, coffee breaks, lunch breaks, technical breakdowns, poor productivity, lack of motivation – the list is endless. The real cost of employing someone is far higher than most business owners would probably care to admit. And if you want to employ someone experienced, resourceful, competent, reliable, confidential, with excellent technical knowledge – well, you’re going to have to pay for it.

Suddenly, the idea of a virtual assistant starts to make more sense. Moving away from the traditional approach of employing staff and instead, embracing a modern, flexible solution that is tailored to your specific needs represents a compelling return on investment that is hard to ignore.

Do you suffer any of these pressure points?

  • You’re struggling to keep up with the constant demands on your time
  • You’re wasting valuable time on tasks you don’t enjoy
  • You’re losing focus and need to concentrate on growing your business
  • You don’t have time to look after your customers properly
  • Your life is all work, work, work and you want to enjoy more free time
  • You want support, but you don’t want the cost or hassle of employing someone
  • You don’t need someone full time but you’re sceptical about finding the right support for your business

If any of these resonate with you, then you should seriously consider enlisting the help of a virtual assistant – imagine what you could do with a little more time on your hands.

There are so many benefits to hiring a virtual assistant

  1. There’s no tie-in – you can request support on an ad hoc basis, as and when your business needs it.  You can either pay as you go if you need occasional support; or you can pay a retainer for a set number of hours per week/month – this way you guarantee their time to support you; or you can pay an agreed fixed price for a specific project or task. So you can control your costs and you know exactly what you’re getting for your money.
  2. You only pay for the time you use – experienced virtual assistants use tracker tools to ensure they keep track of the time spent on their clients’ work. So unlike employed staff, you’re not paying for the bathroom breaks, the coffee break chats, lunch breaks, system downtime, sickness etc.
  3. You don’t have to provide an office, equipment or furniture – virtual assistants work in the comfort of their own homes. They provide their own computers, software and printers. You may have some additional costs if you need them to print on branded stationery; or you need them to make lots of expensive calls on your behalf or buy specific products/software to support you – but otherwise the cost of a virtual assistant is generally an all-inclusive price.
  4. You don’t have associated employment costs – such as sick pay, holiday pay, maternity/paternity cover, illness, jury service, NI contributions, pensions, life assurance, employee benefits, training and development – all these costs can have a massive impact on your bottom line.
  5. No need to pay for training and development – a good virtual assistant is already fully trained. It’s their business to stay abreast of technology and their experience means you don’t have the hassle of teaching them how to support you.
  6. A VA is often more productive – so you receive a far greater return for your money. A virtual assistant is a specialist in their field so they’re used to working quickly, efficiently, juggling multiple priorities and getting the job done. They can probably do (most) things quicker than you can too. If you need someone to work flexible hours for you, expect to pay a little bit more and make sure you’re clear at the outset what your expectations are.

How much is your time worth?

Imagine what another 10 hours a week could do for your productivity. Imagine delegating those tasks that take up too much of your precious time, or the ones you find particularly tedious and just don’t enjoy. Imagine the support of an experienced assistant on hand when you need it most. Whether it’s building your business, stepping back to focus on what you enjoy doing, or simply creating a healthier work/life balance – a virtual assistant is the perfect solution.

What can a virtual assistant do for me?

In short, anything you need. There are virtual assistants who specialise in specific areas such as social media, website design, marketing and PR. And there are generalist virtual assistants who offer a broader range of services, like an executive assistant. Here are just a few examples of the type of work a virtual assistant could do for you:

  • Manage your emails – look after your incoming emails, organise, prioritise, respond on your behalf – so you no longer waste time ploughing through endless messages and instead, your In Box is always under control
  • Manage your diary and travel – look after incoming requests, book travel/accommodation, schedule meetings, track and follow up action points
  • Manage your correspondence – compose emails, letters, manage complaints
  • Create documentation – reports, letters, meeting notes/minutes, procedures, policies, templates
  • Set up and manage spreadsheets
  • Create PowerPoint presentations
  • Audio transcription / copy typing / data entry
  • Proofreading/copy editing/copy writing
  • Book keeping / credit control
  • Website design / management
  • Social media management / support
  • Mailings / email campaigns
  • Project and event management
  • Lifestyle management

The list goes on. There are virtual assistants who can cover pretty much everything you could ever need to support your business.

Choosing the right assistant

Making the right choice is important. Choose wisely – the cheapest is often not the best. You want someone you can communicate well with. Does their website reflect the level of professionalism you’re looking for? Do they have sufficient experience? Are they reliable? Are they flexible? Will they offer seamless support for your business? Do you gel when you talk? Are they au fait with software and can they understand your business? 

Ultimately, you need to do your homework and go by your gut instinct. If you choose the wrong assistant first time, don’t be put off. Learn from it and try again. And respect that they are self-employed for a reason – they are not your employee, so don’t treat them as such.

How do I work out what to delegate?

Start by writing down all the tasks that you currently do yourself and categorise them: 1) those tasks only you can do; 2) those tasks you know you could delegate; and 3) those tasks you’d like to delegate if you could. That will give you a good sense of how much time you could free up. Think about how long all these tasks take you. Could your time be better spent elsewhere? Is your time worth more than these tasks? That gives you a good starting point for discussion.

If you’d like to know more, please feel free to contact me. I offer a free one hour consultation at a time to suit you. It’s good to talk…

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I’m a Cambridgeshire-based virtual assistant and I specialise in providing remote admin and business support to entrepreneurs, freelancers and small business owners who recognise the value in outsourcing those tasks they can’t do, don’t enjoy or shouldn’t be doing. Your time is precious. So if you want to spend it doing what you really enjoy, want more downtime or simply to be able to focus on your core business, then I can help you.

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