5 Reasons Your Start-Up Should Hire a Virtual Assistant
Updated on June 15th, 2016
We don’t like to admit it, but as entrepreneurs we want control.
Both by definition and reputation entrepreneurs are known as risk-takers. They want to be in the driver’s seat and navigate the enterprise through the journey of entrepreneurial success. They want to be on-top of every aspect of their business and manage every single task that comes along.
But try as they want, there is one dimension of business which entrepreneurs cannot control and that is time.
Even with the “The Digital Revolution”, a day will always have 24 hours. Factor in sleep, commute and the basic necessities of daily life and the typical entrepreneur would have 8 to 9 hours allocated to the entrepreneurial pursuit.
The best solution would be to hire virtual assistants, independent contractors who render services online usually from a remote location.
Here are five (5) reasons why your start-up should hire virtual assistants:
1. Reduce the cost of operations
Although more businesses are hiring virtual assistants to scale up their operations, the number one reason work gets outsourced to virtual assistants is to reduce costs.
As a freelancer, virtual assistants are essentially self-employed. It can be said that they own their own business; the practice of providing virtual assistance work in a private capacity. What this means is a virtual assistant is accountable for all expenses for a given project. Including common overheads such as rent, internet and utilities.
Hiring a virtual assistants can reduce costs of operations in three (3) ways:
- Comparative cost. The average hourly rate for a Virtual Assistant will range from AUD $7 to AUD $15 depending on the scope of work, experience and skill level. As a business owner, virtual assistants are not entitled to receive benefits. A full-time office employee with minimal experience in Australia will average AUD $16.50 to AUD $20 per hour and is entitled to both government and company mandated benefits. All told, the total cost of a hiring a full-time office employee is estimated to be 1.5 times or double the cost of a virtual assistant.
- Lower overhead. As presented earlier, virtual assistants are accountable for all the day-to-day expenses of their business. You will only pay a virtual assistant for time spent on the project. On the other hand, whenever a business hires a full-time employee, increased costs are not only incurred in terms of salaries and benefits but also in overhead such as rent, internet and utilities. The estimated allocation for overhead is 10% of total compensation.
- Cost Advantages. When you add the advantage of comparative cost with the benefits of having lower overhead, the end product is the comparative advantage of reducing the cost per employee. When your business begins to gain traction, you can accommodate increased demand simply by delegating work to specialized virtual assistants in your team. Additional costs will only be limited to the fees paid to the virtual assistants. A team of full-time employees will lead to higher costs in every cost component of operations.
The estimated cost reduction by outsourcing services is approximately 40%.
2. Improve productivity
Hiring virtual assistants positively impacts productivity in two (2) ways.
- Shifts focus on core activities. Since the global recession of 2007, businesses have come to realize another benefit of outsourcing. By delegating or outsourcing non-essential tasks or non-core activities to virtual assistants, businesses can allocate more time and resources on their core activities or those which directly impact revenue generation.
- Emphasis is on productive time. When negotiating with a virtual assistant, you can establish work parameters and these are based on the project requirements. The client will layout the guidelines and targets and these will be reconciled with the current capacity of the virtual assistant. The reconciliation of interests will determine the timetable of the project, its ensuing costs and implementing guidelines.
Therefore, when you hire a virtual assistant, your budget is justified or validated by productivity. With a full-time employee, you pay him or her a full day’s wages regardless at whether those hours were productive or included coffee breaks, bathroom breaks, lunch and water cooler chatter.
3. Increase the flexibility of operations
Question: What can a virtual assistant do for you?
Answer: Anything and everything that does not require a physical presence.
What does this mean for the entrepreneur?
A virtual assistant is not confined by four walls or subject to the laws of time and space. You can hire virtual assistants to cover your business 24/7 if needed.
For example, if from your experience, you continue to receive inquiries until 10:00pm, you can hire a Virtual Assistant from the Philippines to cover the post office hours beginning 5:00pm which would mean 3:00pm to 8:00pm in Manila. Virtual assistants from the Philippines cost less; AUD $7 to AUD $10 per hour but are very productive.
If you need telemarketing services, you can hire two virtual assistants and have them work four hours per shift every day. Working only 4 hours a day ensures less fatigue and therefore, greater focus and concentration. Also, because they don’t have to take breaks with a 4 hour schedule, you improve productivity by:
30 minutes x 22 work days = 11 hours per month
Finally, it is easier to terminate a virtual assistant. There is no need for any grievance machinery. If you are dissatisfied with the service, simply give the required days notice then replace with another candidate.
4. Enhance your efficiency
Virtual assistants enhance efficiency through the following avenues:
- Organization. One of the biggest mistakes of first-time entrepreneurs is their failure to set up a structure in their business prior to commencement of operation. Structure means having processes and workflows in place that allow operations to function efficiently or in synergy with other areas. Specifically, most small businesses do not have a set up in place for back office work which includes accounting, information technology, human resources and administrative support. Hiring virtual assistants solves this problem. Once an entrepreneur has established workflows, he can delegate responsibilities to virtual assistants under different capacities. The next step would be to have chain-of-communication protocols and process improvement systems in place in order to track the progress of work. Then you can remain focused on core functions without having to worry about the administrative aspects of your business.
- Specialization. The job description of a Virtual Assistant has evolved in the last four decades. Demand for outsourced work has increased particularly in the last few years that it has opened up new career segments in the virtual assistance industry. Below you’ll see a graphic showing the demand for virtual assistants in Australia.
Today we have virtual assistants who can provide services in accounting, website design, social media marketing, writing, transcription, market research and computer animation among others.
5. Manage stress effectively
For entrepreneurs, the biggest benefit for hiring virtual assistants cannot be immediately quantified in the financial statements. But it has positive, long-term repercussions on the productivity of the business. The worst thing that can happen to a start-up company is entrepreneurial burnout.
Throughout all the challenges, triumphs and tribulations, entrepreneurs go through massive doses of stress. The effects of stress are cumulative; it breaks down the mind and body and will eventually affect overall health. As much as entrepreneurs want to soldier on and get more work done, the mind, body and even the spirit need time to recharge.
Hiring virtual assistants allows the entrepreneur to have time away from work and not worry about the day-to-day operations of their business. Of course, entrepreneurs still need to stay in touch with the business. Bi-weekly virtual conference meetings and limited time reviewing e-mail communication should be sufficient mechanisms to have in place.
With virtual assistants in place, an entrepreneur can partake in the following activities:
- Take vacations. These are not just cycles where you spend hard-earned money frivolously. Vacations give you time to reflect on the year so far and express gratitude for all the victories both great and small.
- Spend time with family. Entrepreneurs often become engrossed with bottom-lines that they lose sight on those whom they do this for. Family keeps you grounded and in touch with your current reality.
- Exercise. Perhaps the most under-appreciated “weapon” in the quest for productivity. Exercise improves body circulation which makes all physiological systems work efficiently. The end result is that you think and manage stress better. Exercise also discards dangerous and harmful toxins which have built up through stress.
Entrepreneurs, because of their commitment and dedication to succeed, often underestimate the value of taking extended breaks. When you come back, you will have a renewed perspective and more purposeful approach to running your enterprise.
There are more advantages or benefits to hiring virtual assistants for your start-up. Most of these you will experience as you move along the engagement.
Irrefutably, you will notice that by having virtual assistants on-board you will finally get to do one thing you probably haven’t done since you launched your business.
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