It’s no secret that the virtual assistant industry has grown over the last few years.
But why hire a virtual assistant? How can they help you and your business?
This article will highlight the top 10 reasons to hire a virtual assistant. We’ll also cover when you need to hire one, how to manage them effectively, and where you can hire them from.
What’s a virtual assistant?
A virtual assistant is an individual who provides different services to businesses or entrepreneurs from a remote location. While they’re not in-office employees, they can access the necessary data and tools to do the job virtually.
Traditionally, virtual assistants were self-employed individuals who specialized in doing a specific task. However, as the virtual assistant industry grew, you now have virtual assistant agencies that provide you with virtual assistants for a range of services:
- Customer support: Virtual assistants are experts at handling customer complaints, feedback, and outreach.
- Administrative tasks: Virtual assistants can handle some of your time-consuming administrative work, like calendar management and to-do lists, allowing you to focus on core tasks.
- Social media marketing: Many virtual assistants offer specialist digital and social media marketing services, helping you attract new customers.
- Data entry and management: Virtual assistants can save you time inputting data into your computer system.
- Accounting and bookkeeping: Some virtual assistants even offer specialized accounting and bookkeeping services which can be very helpful to a small business owner.
Top 10 reasons to hire a virtual assistant for your business
So, why hire a virtual assistant?
Here are the top 10 reasons:
1. Reduced costs
Any large company or small business owner can hire virtual assistants to reduce overhead costs.
Here’s how it can help you save money:
A. Lower salaries and operating costs
Instead of hiring a full-time employee to do a small job, you can hire a cost-effective virtual assistant to do it for you. You only pay VAs for work they’ve done, as they usually charge an hourly rate or on a task basis.
Additionally, as they work remotely, you won’t have to pay for overheads like their internet connection, workspace, computers, or other office space expenses. You also don’t need to provide a complete set of employee benefits.
The main cost saver, however, is that many virtual assistants work from countries with a lower cost of living. This means that you’ll be paying a much lower salary for the same job than you would pay in countries like the United States or the United Kingdom.
For example, a virtual personal assistant in the US earns an average salary of around $41,100 per year. On the other hand, a virtual assistant from the Philippines makes an average of $21,000 per year.
B. Lower training costs
You can also save on training costs by hiring virtual professionals.
Think about it.
When you hire a first-time employee, you’ll have to invest considerable time and resources into training them for different aspects of their job. However, VAs only work on specific tasks they excel at, so you won’t have to worry about strenuous onboarding.
They can get started right away!
2. Boost efficiency by outsourcing non-core tasks
Another benefit of hiring virtual assistants is that it lets businesses focus on their core competencies.
Companies and entrepreneurs deal with many non-core activities like:
- Sending emails and newsletters.
- Handling customer queries.
- Internet research.
- Scheduling meetings.
- Data entry.
While these are necessary tasks, they’re not core tasks that need to be done by an in-house team. Asking your in-house employees to do these small tasks takes away time they could spend on things that need to be done in person.
By outsourcing non-core activities to a virtual assistant with a suitable skill set, you don’t have to worry about managing these activities in-house while still boosting business productivity.
3. Frees up time for strategic thinking
Virtual assistants can perform your non core tasks, giving you more time to focus on growing your business.
Rather than wasting time and resources on day-to-day operations, business owners can focus on strategic leadership for long-term growth. This helps you to set goals that guide your company for better performance and long-term success.
4. Gain access to specialized services
Your hiring potential is unlimited when seeking out virtual assistants, as you can bring talented people in from anywhere in the world. This increases your access to experts with specialized skills, including:
- Digital and social media management.
- Advanced excel and spreadsheet skills.
- Visual and digital editing.
- Marketing and advertising.
Many virtual assistants take special training and certificate courses to offer the best services, so hiring them for these tasks ensures access to the best talent.
5. Quickly scale your business operations
Virtual assistants can also help you scale up your business operations quickly.
They give you the ability to hire talent on a project-by-project basis quickly. This way, you can easily cope with increasing work demands without worrying about rushing your recruitment process.
You can use part-time virtual assistants to deal with sudden scope increases quickly and then slowly hire full-time employees once things have settled down.
6. Reduced micromanagement
Because virtual assistants offer a specialized skill set, you’ll only have to provide the job description once.
Also, since they are used to handling multiple clients and tasks at a time, they’re usually good at time management and ensuring timely deliveries.
That’s why you wouldn’t need to worry about checking on virtual assistants constantly, allowing you to focus on core business activities. Meanwhile, your assistant can carry out their duties with consistency and ease.
7. Offer 24/7 customer service
Most businesses have customers spread across the globe.
But when your business and staff are only located in one area, coping with global needs and different time zones can take time and effort.
For example, if you’re based in New York, your customers’ operating hours will be midnight in Melbourne, Australia. You can only deal with this if your New York office works 24 hours daily!
Luckily, as virtual assistants are remote workers, you can hire them across the globe to cater to different time zones. This way, business owners and staff can maintain a good work-life balance while still being able to provide customer support 24×7!
8. Improve your startup’s chances of success
Small business startups usually rely on a small network of individuals working together to reach the company’s goals. Virtual assistants greatly enhance this ecosystem by providing various services, from general administrative tasks to specialized support tasks.
Virtual assistants can also be hired at a fraction of the cost of a full time employee and can be brought in for a specified period. This makes them perfect for small, growing businesses, easing the burden of mundane tasks and allowing owners to allocate resources to other pressing matters.
9. Easy to hire a replacement
The virtual world provides many opportunities for business owners to expand their companies and teams. The options are truly unlimited, as virtual assistants are easy to find online.
If your already hired virtual assistant needs to take time off, finding and hiring a new one will be quick and easy. Finding a replacement for a virtual assistant is far less troublesome than finding in-house replacements for the same position since you can hire from any corner of the world.
10. Gain peace of mind and avoid burnout
Hiring a virtual assistant will massively reduce your workload. Repetitive tasks like scheduling meetings, taking phone calls, answering emails, and calendar management take a lot more time than people realize. A virtual assistant can do all these admin tasks and more.
Reducing this type of work gives you time to find a good work-life balance. Spending time on leisure is essential in avoiding work-related burnout.
When to hire a virtual assistant for your company
It’s clear that the right virtual assistant can be beneficial to your business.
But when are they most useful?
1. When you have work that doesn’t need a full time employee
When there’s a task that only requires a few hours of work per day or week, hiring someone full-time for it is impractical. For example, recruiting an employee solely to schedule appointments isn’t a smart idea.
In such cases, when there are small tasks or one-off projects, it’s better to use virtual assistance from remote workers.
2. When there are repetitive and non core tasks
Most businesses spend a lot of time on repetitive tasks like daily answering emails and phone calls.
If you waste most of your hours doing such time-consuming daily admin tasks. The right person can handle these activities efficiently, freeing up time for you to focus on more essential tasks.
3. You don’t possess the skills for a specific task
Managing and maintaining a business takes work. Administrative, financial, and marketing tasks are all essential to the longevity and success of any company.
As a business owner or manager, it’s best to admit when you need help completing large or small tasks that require a specific skill set, like SEO marketing or bookkeeping.
Hiring the right virtual assistant ensures that the work is done right the first time, boosting your productivity and bottom line.
4. You find yourself turning down clients
We’ve established that virtual assistants are fantastic at creating time for more critical core business tasks. One such core task is scouting and acquiring multiple clients.
No business owner wants to turn down work that could help with business growth, right?
Hiring a virtual assistant’s services will create bandwidth to onboard multiple clients and make your company more successful.
How to manage your virtual assistant
Most people worry about hiring virtual assistants since they don’t work in your office space
- How do you communicate project requirements?
- How do you monitor their productivity?
- How do you ensure that they’re working?
While these are all valid concerns, you needn’t worry about any of them!
There are tons of tools that help you manage your virtual assistants easily.
Here’s a close look at two kinds of tools you need to invest in to manage your VAs effectively:
1. Communication tools
Your virtual assistants might be thousands of miles away.
So how do you communicate with them?
With the right communication channels, you’ll have no difficulty getting in touch with your VAs and keeping them on the same page
A. Messaging tools
Messaging tools like Fleep and Slack are great platforms for you and your virtual professionals to communicate with each other. It lets you discuss work demands, share project management updates and send files — all in one place!
You can even create custom channels for project-specific conversations. For example, you can create a social media management channel for conversations with the virtual assistants who handle your social media accounts.
B. Video calling tools
Video conferencing tools like Zoom and Skype let you host and schedule appointments and project reviews for detailed walkthroughs and task planning. They can also help build rapport between team members and virtual assistants to ensure that they work well with your team.
2. Performance monitoring tools
Worried that you can’t monitor your VA’s performance and productivity?
With performance monitoring tools like Time Doctor, you’ll have everything you need to monitor your VAs easily.
What’s Time Doctor?
Time Doctor is a powerful performance monitoring and time management tool that’s used by Verizon, Ericsson, and Thrive Market to improve employee productivity. It lets you track what your virtual assistant is doing to ensure that they’re focusing on their daily tasks.
Here’s a list of Time Doctor’s features that will help you monitor your virtual assistants
A. Accurate time tracking
Time Doctor’s interactive and automatic time tracker lets you track the time VAs spend on your work. With the interactive mode, the virtual assistants simply start the timer when they’re working on a task and stop it when they’re done.
Alternatively, the automatic mode conveniently tracks time in the background while your VAs work. This is great for ease of use and accuracy, as employees can work uninterrupted.
What’s more, Time Doctor requires next to no training and they can get started right away!
Note: Time Doctor does not track a user when the timer isn’t running.
B. Idle-time tracking
Time Doctor’s inactivity tracker guards against your virtual assistant logging idle time as hours worked. If there’s no mouse or keyboard activity for a specified period, the timer automatically pauses, and the idle time pop-up appears, as it assumes the user to be on a break.
This way, VAs can only log active hours as hours worked.
Note: Time Doctor doesn’t track what keys were pressed by a user, it only determines if any keys were pressed or not.
C. Productivity ratings
Time Doctor’s productivity monitoring feature tracks the websites and apps used by your virtual assistants while they’re working. This system is customizable as you can set which sites are productive or unproductive for each individual employee.
For example, you can place an unproductive rating on websites like Facebook and Instagram for your accounts team while giving productive ratings to sites like Google spreadsheet.
D. Comprehensive reports
Time Doctor auto-generates tons of powerful reports that let you know how your virtual assistants are using their work hours. Here’s a look at some of its key reports:
- Hours tracked report: Shows the total hours worked by all your virtual assistants on each workday.
- Activity summary report : Displays the share of active minutes and hours spent on tasks by a VA over a specific period of time.
- Timeline report: Provides a daily or weekly breakdown of time spent on tasks and breaks.
- Projects and tasks report: Shows which VA worked on each project and for how long.
- Web and app usage report: Tells you which websites and apps the VA used and for how long. This helps you to determine if they’re wasting work hours on non-work related activities.
Most virtual assistants invoice you on a per hour basis for their work. To make it easy to accurately pay them for their work, Time Doctor has a built-in payroll feature.
It automatically calculates their pay based on their hours worked and your chosen billable rates. While it integrates with popular payment methods like Gusto, Paypal, and Wise (formerly TransferWise), you can also use a payment platform of your choice to pay your virtual assistants.
So, where do you go to hire a virtual assistant service?
Where to find a virtual assistant
While you can post a job description on LinkedIn and other job portals to hire VAs, using dedicated virtual assistant businesses and marketplaces is a smarter choice.
Here are a few independent contractor sites as well as a few agencies to help you find some virtual assistance:
A. Freelancer sites
A freelance platform allows you to search for a potential independent contractor with a range of specialized skills. Here are two great freelancer sites:
- Upwork: Upwork is a premier freelancing website for businesses looking to hire virtual professionals. It’s a good platform to outsource your accounting, data entry and app development services to a skilled virtual assistant.
- Fiverr: Fiverr is a popular freelance platform for virtual assistants. You can use it to hire people for different tasks like managing social media accounts, transcription services, and SEO.
A virtual assistant company will provide you with on-demand assistants who have specialized skill sets. The agencies also offer a simple hiring process. Here are two you should check out:
- Virtual Staff Finder: Virtual Staff Finder is a virtual assistant company that gives you some of the best virtual assistants from the Philippines based on your business needs. However, it’s more suited for businesses looking to hire virtual assistants long-term.
- VaVa Virtual Assistants: VaVa Virtual is a virtual assistant service provider for small business owners and entrepreneurs. They offer skilled professionals from the United States for web designing, administrative tasks, digital marketing, real estate management, and more.
Why hire a virtual assistant?
The answer is simple.
They can help you streamline your work activities in no time!
From handling your phone calls to managing your social media accounts, they can save time to focus on core activities. Also, as they’re skilled at what they do and won’t need constant supervision — it’s a win-win for everyone involved!
You can use communication tools like Slack for quick interactions and productivity tools like Time Doctor for keeping your VAs focused on their tasks.
So sign up for Time Doctor’s 14-day free trial to see how it can improve your virtual assistants’ productivity!
Rob Rawson is a co-founder of Time Doctor which is software to improve work productivity and help keep track of what your team is working on, even when working remotely.