Updated: Nov 6, 2019
Okay, I may be biased, as I'm a Virtual Assistant myself, but seriously, I want to get the word out there of how important it is for a small business owner to have the proper support. I have worked with small businesses in my former job, and I know how much goes into running a company and how little time in a day there is. So I want to share some of my experience and also paint a clear picture, on what a VA is, does and why they are a real asset to your growing company.
What is a Virtual Assistant?
Ever since I started telling people that I started a Virtual Assistant Business, the reactions across the board have been very much the same: 'Oh, congrats! That's awesome. What is a Virtual Assistant?'. And that is an excellent question. When I first began my VA journey, I honestly wasn't sure about what a Virtual Assistant was and did. I thought, no, that's not a real job, is it? But it certainly is. Now I always explain it somehow like this:
You can see a Virtual Assistant just like exactly that - an assistant. Someone that takes tasks off your hands, tasks that run in the background of a Business. Crucial tasks, but also the ones that business owners don't necessarily want to be bothered with (or, honestly, they simply don't like doing them or don't know how to.)
Virtual Assistant work is all - obviously - virtual. So the VA gets access to your email to sort your emails and manage your calendar. They handle interaction with followers on social media platforms. Create, research and post content. They book appointments for you and send out your newsletter. They create and freshen up your website, they book your travels and take phone calls from your clients if you so wish.
Why having a VA is a real blessing
1. The apparent reason - VA's get stuff done for you
If you don't own a business, you may have read the paragraph above and wondered: well... but if a VA does all that stuff, what does the owner do? Sit back and kick up their feet? The answer is: No. Owning a small business, being a solopreneur is so so stressful and such a big responsibility to take on by yourself. You have to network, promote, design products or create services. And maybe you're super good at experimenting and coming out with a super cool product to sell to the world. But you lack experience in building an online presence and don't have time to learn how to do it.
What if you're just not a people person? You have all the groundbreaking ideas and do a magnificent job designing and producing, but when it comes to customer service, you just want to go hide in a corner and not interact with anyone. Or what if you have your first client, but you have never sent out a contract? You don't even have one prepared! Never dealt with all the paperwork and - quite honestly - you don't have the time to do it and you have never liked paperwork in the first place. Leave it to your VA. They are there to do exactly the chores you don't necessarily want to do but know they need to get done.
2. A Virtual Assistant does the learning for you
The great thing is, you also pay your Virtual Assistant to learn - I know that doesn't sound very glamorous right now, but wait. VA's never stop learning! Depending on the task you give your new found assistant, they may have to get familiar with a new tool or experiment with a few different ones to find the best fit for your business. As it's something they're good and fast at (otherwise they wouldn't be in the field of Virtual Assistants), it saves you tons of time and energy, as you probably don't have time to read all the blogs on how to use Hootsuite and then actually finding your way around the program. But your VA does, they love learning and, the best part is, you can trust that the job is always done in your companies best interest. And the next point will tell you why I'm 100% sure about that.
3. Va's are not technically your employees
The reason why I know that a VA will always have the success, goals, and growth of your business at the forefront of their mind is that they are not 'just' your employees, in fact, they're not your employees at all. You know how often people are just 'employed', they 'just work' for a company. Come at 8 and leave at 5 and that's that. It's their job and they don't reeeeally care about their employers business plan and their goals, most of the time they don't even know what they are (I dare to say, we've all been there). Having Virtual Assistant however is an investment, and the VA knows that. If they'd slack at the job and you'd not see any change in your business, do you truly think you wouldn't notice? It's easy to overlook Tina at the office, taking too many breaks and not sending out any emails or taking any phone calls on Wednesday. But you would definitely notice it if your VA was slacking. They'd be gone and replaced pretty quickly. Knowing that, they'll put their all into the job.
Another perk of not technically being your VA's employer is: No holiday pay, no sick time pay and the best part? NO PAYROLL TAXES. Your assistant takes care of that themselves, deducting taxes straight from their salary (they are a small business themselves). So, none of your businesses' business. And as you usually work on a hourly or weekly basis and give the VA a certain amount of work to do throughout the week, it doesn't matter if they're sick as they work on their own time and they only get paid for the time they do work or if it's a package based agreement, they get paid the fixed rate you agreed one to get the job done. So, goodbye to Brandon, who calls in sick to stay at home to play video games every other Thursday and still pockets his salary.
Who needs a Virtual Assistant?
Thanks to my sales job at 'INK - travel media' in London I got familiar with startups and young companies and following their journey to becoming a successful business. Startups were all I focused on. I used to sell advertising space in an in-flight magazine and once I discovered startups, I never went back to trying to work with large corporations. I dealt with a lot of entrepreneurs and solopreneurs, and it has taught me a bunch. That experience is also the reason why I decided to take the steps in the direction of becoming a Virtual Assistant. A lot of the startups I worked with were just so busy, so... worn out. They'd already pick up the phone sounding stressed and often struggled to meet the given deadline to deliver their artwork for the in-flight magazine ad to me, even sending back a signed contract could take a few weeks.
Simple tasks, right? Easy tasks. But if you own a business, you probably know that it's just one of those things. Something you know you have to do eventually but there are a thousand more important things to do right now, so it can wait... But your business partners, clients or followers, whatever it may be, whoever you are working with, they all have one thing in common: they don't like to wait and may find their business partner elsewhere. Or buy some other companies products or services, companies that replied immediately.
So to answer the above question about who needs a Virtual Assistant, I think we have to ask three more questions:
1. What keeps you up at night?
2. Which essential tasks have you put off for two weeks or more?
3. What daily task are you dreading every morning?
I'm sure every small business owner will answer those questions differently, but I'm also sure that every small business owner is able to answer the questions without a problem. So those are the people that may want to look into hiring a Virtual Assistant.
The world is fast moving, and there are a lot of demands, and it's simply not possible for one person to meet all them and still do an excellent job at what they deliver. Yes, they want to advertise in an in-flight magazine, of course, they do, but they don't have time for all the work that comes with it. It may not be an ad for you, but I'm sure that you have certain things that you don't get to. Lost opportunities that could have been taken but weren't, why? Because you didn't have time. You had more important things to do and most importantly - because you had no one to help you.
The delights of delegating
Hiring a VA also means that you have to trust them with your precious business that you put tons of work and effort into. And that means, delegating tasks to them. Most people don't like delegating - I can see you cringe when you read it.
I am actually awful at delegating myself. It's definitely something I'm still working on. Honestly? I genuinely think I can do it better than others, so I'll do it myself. Cause we all have our set ways of doing certain things right? One example is watching my husband clean the house! It almost makes me go crazy. Because in my opinion, he just doesn't do it the smartest way he possibly could. There are more efficient ways to do it (like my way). And at the beginning of our marriage, I'd turn into a little bit (a little bit? He may disagree with that) of a control freak, telling him how to do it. But! I have learned just to let him do it, as in the end it's always beautifully done. No matter how it's done. So instead of stressing and doing it all myself, I delegate. And I trust.
Same with my wedding planning. I love all my bridesmaids dearly, and they are lovely and responsible girls. But my husband literally had to push me to delegate. I was going to do everything myself. Set the tables, decorate the church - hell, even pick up the flower bouquets before the ceremony IN MY WEDDING DRESS. AT THE GARDENER'S! Imagine that, the bride walking in with a dirty dress, but at least she got the flowers picked up and arranged to her taste. I'm glad I was pushed to delegate. Way less stress for me, and the people who offer help know what they're doing.
It is tough to let someone else in on your business and give them access to your whole virtual world. It's super scary! But it's worth it.
Having your business up and running, or being on the way there, it's a dream come true! You have worked so hard to get to this point, don't be another 'tired out entrepreneur' as I once heard someone call themselves. Be vibrant and enthusiastic about your business. Be excited and inspired to create, produce and build. Do what you do best and please, please leave the other responsibilities to someone who wants to help you keep your business running smoothly. It's not your job to do it all. Time is so valuable, so spend it wisely, doing the things you love and not stressing about the things you should have delegated a long time ago.