Are you swamped with work but unable to afford hiring in house employees to help you? Your business can plateau in this situation if you don’t increase your capacity to take on more clients and earn more money. There’s another way forward: using virtual assistants (VAs).
Virtual Assistants can take routine work off your hands so you can focus on the things you like and do best – taking your business to the next level of success.
Consider the tasks you want to offload.
- Do they take a lot of your time?
- Can you define them precisely?
- Can you offer VAs “user manuals” to ensure that work gets done according to your specifications?
- Can you work with VAs to refine your instructions?
- By using VAs, can you substantially reduce the time you spend on these tasks?
If you answered “yes” to these questions, look for a VA (or VAs, plural) to take those tasks off your hands. Some types of work a VA can help you with include:
The process of writing a good blog post looks like this:
- map your ideas
- write a first draft
- refine that draft to where it’s ready for review
- get other people to review the draft
- publish the post
- promote the post
- handle comments on the blog
You might want to hang on to steps 1 and 2, but a VA with good writing and editing skills who understands your blogging system can do most of the work from step 3 on. If the VA knows your industry and company well enough, you might only need to send notes for a post and review the draft the VA creates.
Newsletters are more involved than blog posts, but similar in terms of the work involved. VAs with working knowledge of your email marketing system can send out the content you want to include with each edition, saving you oodles of work time.
Digitally savvy VAs can execute clearly documented social media strategies. Promotion of blog posts, online newsletters, company events, even standard interaction with clients can all be handled by VAs who understands your company, your industry and your audience.
VAs can handle routine customer service calls, email, chat and social media messages, leaving you with a much-reduced correspondence load.
Estimates and proposals
Find VAs with great business writing skills, give them templates of your job estimates and proposals, and they can prepare these documents for you to review using little more than the notes you send them. They can also review completed estimates and proposals to prevent mistakes in them from reaching your prospective customers.
Entrepreneurs must maintain calendars that correspond to roles in their lives. Client appointments are the tip of the calendar iceberg. Promotional calendars, editorial calendars for newsletters and blog posts, even personal calendars must be kept up to date so that:
- your business doesn’t miss its deadlines
- you don’t overbook or double-book yourself
VAs can organize your calendars and help you spot and handle any looming conflicts.
Once you agree to a project plan and work-back schedule with a client, you create a discrete calendar and task list that must fit into your existing calendars and task lists. VAs can track the new project and alert you in advance to any:
- upcoming deliverable deadlines
- calendar conflicts
- days you may have overloaded your task list
While VAs can’t physically place papers in folders, they can organize information in paperless systems like online CRMs and cloud-based file storage. Consider getting your PDFs OCRed so you can run searches on their contents.
Invoicing and bookkeeping
Online accounting systems enable businesspeople to delegate tasks like invoicing, invoice tracking and expense recording to accounting-savvy VAs they authorize to access their systems.
Monthly business reports
Preparing financial reports (income statements, balance sheets, cash flow statements, accounts receivable aging and so forth) can take a lot of time. Granting your bookkeeper access to those systems lets you delegate this task to a pro who can handle it for you month after month.
Sending customers thank-you cards or other tokens of appreciation can warm up a business relationship. VAs can send such tokens on your behalf when you complete a project or reach an important milestone.
Determining the value of a virtual assistant’s services
Your customers pay you the big bucks to use your talents, but you still must do the unbillable work that keeps your business running. If you:
- have more billable work than you know what to do with
- can delegate non-billable work to VAs who can do it for you
- spend the time you save earning a rate higher than you pay VAs
...then the numbers say you ought to hire VAs.
Said another way: raw cost isn’t the main issue. Actual costs can vary widely, but you need to understand whether the extra income you can earn justifies the extra cost of hiring VAs to take non-billable work off your hands.
What to look for in virtual assistants
At minimum, VAs you engage must have computer, organization, and effective communication skills.
Specific work entails the need to look for specific skills (e.g. design skills for creating advertisements, Excel skills for monthly reporting). If you need several skills, you may need to work with two or more VAs.
Finding virtual assistants
You can find VAs in so many places on the web, you’re better off starting your search by asking for referrals from people in your network.
On the web, try organizations like:
Have you worked with virtual assistants in the past? Tell us about your experiences in the comments below.