Virtual Assistants Make Good Sense

Professional Service

Here are 12 reasons why your small business should engage a virtual assistant

1) Your business is expanding at a rate of knots

If you ever experience the situation when your small business just takes off in terms of growth then you will understand the workload that can go with it. Every single day can bring new tasks to keep you and your startup staff busy. While it is a really great thing to have happen to your small business it can end up being really time consuming.

What can often end up happening is that you end up spending almost all of your time attending to your admin work. One minute you are answering incoming telephone calls, dealing with customer queries or potential orders and the next minute you are trying to get on to all of this additional work. It can be a real strain for a new small business.

One great solution to all of this is to outsource some of this new found work. A great option is to take on an external bookkeeper who can help you with some of the accounting related work and to take on a Virtual Assistant who can assist with the telephone answering, customer queries and a range of other admin related tasks.

2) You are winding down a part of your business

In business not everything works. For every one really good idea that performs brilliantly there are at least another 5 that are not such great performers. If you have a business with a number of different divisions then it likely that every now and again you need to close down one of these under-performing divisions.

The problem that you end up having however is who are you going to use to wind this non performing division down. If you use your existing staff then you may have to take them off other duties that relate to divisions that are actually performing quite well. This puts you in the position that you are disadvantaging your profitable divisions for the benefit of the not so profitable.

One great solution to this problem is to bring in a Virtual Assistant to assist with the wind down of that not so profitable division. This then allows your staff to focus on the money making opportunities with the divisions that are actually performing quite well.

3) You are strapped for cash and can't afford a full-timer

Let's face it, small businesses can consume a lot of cash. There are so many different things that you have to pay out for when starting something up. There are offices to lease, bonds to be paid, furniture to be bought and internet connections to be paid for. It really does all start to add up after a while.

And what about the cost of employing someone in Australia. For a reasonable admin person you will need to spend around $50k per year and on top of that you will need to pay for their annual leave, their sick leave, their superannuation and overtime. On top of this you can also add a range of government taxes and requirements.

Doesn't it make sense to make use of external virtual staff instead of bringing in your own full time physical staff. A virtual staff member can save you up to 40% of the cost of a physical one and can attend to a lot of the same admin tasks that a physical one will attend to. It makes really good financial sense.

4) You don't have a jack of all trades

Everyone has met them, those super staff members who understands every system that you have running and every process that keeps your business running. They seem to be one step ahead of the rest of the team and seem to be able to predict what will happen next and what needs to be done in preparation.

Unfortunately these people are few and far between. For the businesses that manage to find one they tend to hold on to them and make it difficult for them to leave. They also tend to pay them a premium as they usually understand the great benefits that go with having one of these jack's of all trades.

If you are a business that has to make do without a jack of all trades then one of the options that you have available to you is to bring in virtual talent to cover you for the areas where you need support. If you need people with multiple skills then you can bring in multiple Virtual Assistants to cover you in these areas.

5) Yours is not a 9-5 business

What business is 9-5 these days. With the advent of the internet, email and smart phones we have all been given the capability to run our businesses 24/7. Unfortunately, our families and our staff's families are not necessarily as keen for our businesses to run on a 24/7 basis.

This is where virtual assistants can come in to help. A virtual assistant can work outside of normal business hours and can take over when your regular staff head off home to their families. A virtual assistant can assist you with a range of out of hours tasks to keep your business running.

Think of all the potential new business you will gain if you have a business that is contactable on a 24/7 basis. Getting a VA to help you out could end up making you more money than it actually costs.

6) Your work load is not linear

By linear we mean straight line. If your work load is not particularly linear then it is likely that your work is coming in in peaks and troughs. When you think about it the non-linear work load is probably a lot more common than the linear one.

These days I expect that the majority of small businesses are non-linear in terms of workload. The traditional way of coping with these peaks and troughs is through managing your physical work force. You would generally employ additional people to be able to cope and you may supplement this full time workforce with a number of casuals or temporary staff.

A great way to manage these peaks and troughs is to bring virtual staff in to assist your permanent physical staff. The virtual staff can assist with things like telephone answering, taking queries from customers, managing online forms, completing customer surveys etc etc.

7) You just can't fit an extra person in

This reason fits in very well with the 1st reason, ie, your business is expanding at a rate of knots. When you start a small business you are most likely to underestimate how much physical space you need over the next few years. If your business is expanding at a rapid rate then it is likely that you have already used up any free space that you actually have on offer.

So, what are your choices? Well, in the traditional physical world you may need to squash everyone in to a smaller space. Where you may have allocated 8 square metres per staff member you may now need to squeeze them into 5. Other options might include getting additional space with a serviced office or maybe allowing some of your people to work from home. Either way, it ends up giving your staff a sub-standard level of experience.

Rather than subject your staff to cramped conditions you could potentially just supplement your staff with a number of virtual assistants. This way your staff still retain their quality of life while you still get the work done. Sounds very much like a win/win.

8) Something confidential has come up

This happens more often than you would think. A project comes up out of the blue that you really don't want your staff to know about. It could be that you are thinking about buying a competitor or it could be that you are selling off part of your business to a competitor or to someone else. Either way it probably makes sense to get someone who is not involved in the business to do the work.

There are a number of external parties that you could get involved in this sort of situation. External accountants and bookkeepers are great ones that you could bring in to help with any number crunching or financial statements. Virtual Assistants are good ones to bring in to assist with incoming phone calls, answering queries and attending to some of the basic admin work that is involved.

9) An out of the ordinary project has come up

Similar to the issue arising in reason 9, something out of the ordinary may well just pop up and you don't have the internal resources with the skills to complete that project. To hire someone in permanently to work on that task may not make sense as the task could be finished in a month or so.

Getting external staff in makes really good sense. It depends on the type of project that has come up to determine what actual skills you need and what level of virtual assistance you need however there are plenty of virtual assistants out there with a broad range of skills that would be happy to help you out.

10) Your people are overloaded.

If you have a busy business as it is and you are working your people pretty hard then you may be a little cautious when it comes to giving them even more overtime or loading another complex task on them. Who knows, it may well be the straw that breaks the camels back and ends up costing you some of your better staff members.

Think of how appreciative your staff will be when they find out that they are going to have virtual staff there to help them out. Supervising virtual staff members could also be a good way to add to your existing staff members skills.

11) You have time constraints

Even if you have sufficient staff to cope with the ups and downs of business there will be times when you really have to get stuff done urgently and you just don't have the staff or the time available yourself to do it in the requisite time frame. In the old days you would look at bringing in a temp to help out and then find somewhere in your organisation to sit the temp and someone to actually manage the temp.

Now that we have the internet and cloud computing it is much easier to bring in external resources virtually to help you manage a time critical project. The resource is virtually limitless, you can bring in 1 person or you could bring in 100 people. It just depends on how many people you need to get the job done in the required time.

12) You need time to focus on the strategic stuff

How much of your time is occupied by all of the time consuming admin work. Studies carried out overseas have shown that a manager spends more than 40% of their time attending to admin. This includes time spent answering the phone, attending to emails, completing spreadsheets and supervising staff.

With a Virtual Assistant you can cut back on how much basic admin work you have to do personally and refocus your attention on the more strategic issues effecting your business. Think of how much more money you can make if you get an extra 10% of your time back.

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