For starters, it’s difficult relenting control at such a crucial phase in a company’s growth. That’s why burnout due to extreme multitasking is such a common misstep with entrepreneurs.
The key point here is that effective delegation is about placing your focus where it matters most and letting others take care of tasks you shouldn’t be doing. However, startups and small businesses face another unique challenge: cash flow. As an entrepreneur or small business owner, even if you are on board with getting help, you often don’t have the time, space or resources available to hire that additional employee you desperately need. That’s why so many successful business people have turned their attention to virtual assistants (VA’s). VA does not only save you time and money, but they are also an affordable and experienced investment in the growth of your company.
Virtual Assistants are remote workers who provide various services, usually on a contract basis. Common tasks usually described in Virtual Assistant resumes are managing schedules, arranging meetings, managing contact lists, handling emails, sending newsletters, performing market research, identifying new business opportunities and providing customer service, amongst many others. Based on our sample resumes, the ideal candidate should demonstrate strong organizational skills, flexibility, promptitude, good communication skills, and computer competencies. No formal education is required for the job, although some clients may prefer contractors with a degree in a relevant field. The number of VA’s is growing rapidly. They range from contract workers to freelancers who focus on administrative tasks in different sectors. Agencies that specialize in managing contract workers have thousands of listings for VA’s, and companies like Worldwide101 are dedicated entirely to managing the relationship between VA’s and employers.
What a virtual assistant can do for
startups and small businesses.
Virtual assistants aren’t just for executives anymore. For many startups and small business owners, VA’s offer an obvious benefit. They are a big-time saver during a phase in a company’s growth where it may not be viable to have a full-time employee. For example, numerous successful startup founders from the Young Entrepreneur Council discuss why they hired VA’s and how that’s helped with their productivity, happiness, and work-life balance. Don’t limit your scope to just personal assistant tasks -- startups and small businesses use VA’s for things like bookkeeping, social media, design, web development, email management, marketing administration and so much more.
A Virtual Assistant
can handle everything from answering emails
to developing your marketing strategy.
VAs work within your budget
You know you need help, but you're not ready to hire a full-time administrative employee. There's a great degree of flexibility with virtual assistants which makes hiring a possibility for business owners. Establish what you can afford to pay, and then find a professional who will work within those parameters. You don't have to pay benefits or get locked into a long-term contract. They can work on their own time, or establish a routine that works well with your office hours and schedule.
They bring valuable skill sets to your company
Some VAs has specific areas of expertise such as marketing, writing, social media, HR functions or bookkeeping. When hiring a VA, whether through an agency or on an individual basis, do so with an understanding of the experience and abilities you need most to ensure you get a good fit. Be realistic; while you may get lucky with someone who can do it all, it's not likely you'll find one person to do the job of several people, crafting emails, basic administrative tasks, developing engaging online content and managing your books.
They can fill multiple
Maybe you need more basic or specific help, such as a receptionist or someone to update Excel files. Perhaps you would benefit from higher-level support, such as a virtual business manager capable of creating the processes and forms that your growing company needs. VAs can also be personal assistants, managing a mix of business and personal tasks. Whatever support you need, there's a virtual assistant who can help.
VAs allow you to
Small business owners are (understandably) used to doing everything themselves, though this strategy wears thin when you're putting in 100-hour workweeks. Working with a VA lets you exercise your delegating muscles, a talent that will serve you well as your business grows. Start by developing a thorough job description. The clearer you can state your needs, the more successful the experience will be for both of you. Like anything else, you get out what you put in, so it will require an initial investment of time, thought and training to hand work over. However, this up-front investment will provide more freedom to do the things that only you can do.
They help you stay connected with customers
It's a 24/7 world, and in business, two of the most time-sensitive tasks are responding to customer communications and handling your social media presence. It's critical to devote the resources necessary to stay on top of both. If a customer reaches out to you either by email or in a post on your company's social media page, you need to respond immediately, not when it comes to your attention a week later.
They'll grow with your company
It's a 24/7 world, and in business, two of the most time-sensitive tasks are responding to customer communications and handling your social media presence. It's critical to devote the resources necessary to stay on top of both. If a customer reaches out to you either by email or in a post on your company's social media page, you need to respond immediately, not when it comes to your attention a week later. Having a person dedicated to serving as the social media eyes and ears of your company can help you protect your brand and stay responsive to your client base.