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What is a Virtual Assistant (VA) anyway? And why do I need one?

Updated: May 10, 2021


It's funny really, with an industry as big as 'Virtual Assistance', it's surprising how many times I get asked "What's a Virtual Assistant? Do you answer my phone calls or something?"... Or something! My other favourite is comparing me to your smart speaker! REALLY?

Answering somebodies phone calls is a service I know some Virtual Assistants offer, but it is merely the tip of the iceberg! Virtual Assistants are experts in their field and often niche down to specific services. What one VA offers may not be what another offers (This makes for a very collaborative industry).

My Favourite definition of a Virtual Assistant has to be "A Virtual Assistant is a Superhero that can save you time and money whilst offering invaluable support to you and your business" (Source Unknown). Whilst the Superhero description might be a bit of artistic licence at play, in truth a Virtual Assistant does provide busy, overworked business owners with invaluable support with their administrative tasks. Simply put a VA is a highly skilled, independent professional who remotely provides business support services, administrative, technical and/or creative.

So why do you need a VA?

There are many benefits for hiring a VA but the biggest reason, in my opinion, is that it frees you up to concentrate on those revenue creating tasks, enabling you to look at growing your business.

Running an efficient business takes a lot of time and effort, often spinning many plates. Perhaps you are already feeling overstretched and considering what kind of support you need in your business.

Here are my top 5 reasons for why a VA is worth the investment.

1. Saves you money on hiring in-house. The cost of an Employee is so much more than just their salary. Think about the time alone it takes to interview and find the perfect person to work with, plus the added cost of using a recruitment agency, the Employee's salary, Tax and NI, Benefits and Holiday pay. On top of that you need to consider buying new hardware and software licences, additional email addresses usually come at a cost too. Then when you have hired someone in-house you need to train them up. With a VA you don't have any of the HR commitments as, being Self employed, a Virtual Assistant takes care of all of that themselves. VA's will have their own hardware and software, requiring no space in your office as they work remotely.

2. No need to keep spinning all those plates. As a business owner I know that at certain times you have to stop doing what makes you money to do your finances/bookkeeping, sales admin, social media posts and other marketing tasks. With a VA , they are your admin support, they can take on those tasks so you don't have to. This frees you up to do what you do best, thus making you more productive as you're not tied down doing those mundane tasks.

3. Virtual Assistants are business owners too – and your business partner. Because VAs are also business owners they fully understand what’s needed to run a business, including the need to network and market your business. As your VA gets to know you and your business, they can add a great deal of value by introducing you to people they know through their business and their own business networking. So not only do VA's support your business through the services they offer, they also effectively help you to network and connect with people you may not otherwise meet to grow your business.

4. Use your Virtual Assistant as needed. Some VA's charge by the hour, others like myself offer packages for a set number of hours a week/month, you may even hire on a project by project basis. However your VA charges you will only ever need to pay for the hours they work. Why pay someone full-time when you only have part-time needs?

5. Virtual Assistants don't just work 9 to 5. Many Virtual Assistants work from home, around families (I know I do) and therefore do not necessarily work the standard 9 to 5. I know with some of my trades clientele that their "office work" doesn't normally start until the end of the day, for this reason some VA's can be available to complete tasks when your working day is done. It's worth checking with your VA what their working hours are before assuming they will work outside normal office hours, but I know I find the evenings my most productive time of the day, once the housework is done and the kids are in bed. It also means you are able to delegate tasks at the end of your working day with the reassurance that these will be taken care of.

Having someone to whom you can faithfully delegate tasks is, ultimately, the cost of your sanity and peace of mind. Isn’t that worth it?

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