Virtual Assistants: Your key to more hours in a day!

Outsourcing has been big business for about a decade now, yet most small businesses don’t take advantage of it yet. In The 4-hour Work Week, the author speaks about how outsourcing your mundane and repetitive tasks to a virtual assistant can save you time and money, and free up quality time for your to pursue your other interests and other business ventures. Today I’d like to show you the many benefits of outsourcing.

I personally outsource some of my tasks, as I have many business interests and I prefer to only focus on those I enjoy most.

What is a Virtual Assistant?

Virtual assistants (or VAs) are online entrepreneurs. They are people who are often highly qualified or skilled in their area of expertise.

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A virtual assistant is usually a professional business person who offers services online.

They make their services available to you at competitive rates via online outsourcing platforms, to help you free up some time. These VAs essentially run their own businesses online, which should make you feel at ease leaving your tasks in their capable hands.

VAs can perform a wide range of tasks, including bookkeeping, graphic design, website development, blogging, desktop publishing, transcription, customer care, computer training, presentation building, copy writing, bill payments and more.

How a VA saves you money

One of the best advantages of a VA is that you don’t have to hire office space to accommodate her. She has her own PC and internet connection, and she works from home. You may never meet her, or even speak to her, as everything can probably be done via email or instant messaging.

She may or may not be in your country, but that doesn’t matter – it provides a great opportunity for you to enhance customer care. If your VA is on the other side of the world, she can take care of your night time customer care, while you do the dayshift, creating the illusion of 24/7 online support.

Virtual assistants understand that time is money and the importance of keeping your customers happy. By keeping your customers happy, she keeps you happy and as such, her business thrives. This is one of the best advantages of a virtual assistant over a full time employee.

VAs are flexible. You can hire them for once-off jobs, or long term, or you can hire one virtual assistant for each job. Since you pay by the hour, it makes it cost-effective to hire an expert for each function.

Here are some of the ways in which a virtual assistant can help you:

  • Designing your website
  • Writing your ad-copy, website content or sales pages
  • Managing your blog posts and comments
  • Controlling your inbox
  • Managing your diary
  • Handling your social media marketing
  • Doing your bookkeeping
  • Creating presentations, doing graphic design and desktop publishing
  • Handling your customer care

The Virtual Assistant Cost Factor

Some people are unsure about the cost-factor of outsourcing jobs to virtual assistants, thinking that it’s cheaper to do the work themselves. Others feel that it is unethical to pay low hourly rates for professional-grade services. While those factors do apply to certain cases, it is important to remember that:

1. You get what you pay for: It’s best to pay a slightly higher hourly rate for quality work. Paying the requested rate will set a standard in the industry which will result in more freelancers striving to provide better quality services.

2. The VA is not a permanent employee: If she’s good at what she does, she probably has many other clients apart from you. You pay for the hours she spends on your projects, and if she’s professional, she knows what she’s doing with her finances. She won’t accept your job unless she feels it’s a good deal.

3. Consider the value outsourcing brings: When you first consider outsourcing, you may not be keen to spend money to do work that you could be doing yourself. However, a professional can probably do a better job than you in half the time (no offence!). So consider your hourly rate and how much time it would take you to complete the project. How much value (in monetary terms) will that bring you?

How to Find a Virtual Assistant

When you decide to hire a VA, there are several places to look. My favourite site is oDesk. For small jobs, you can’t go wrong with Fiverr.

Other sites include Freelancer and eLance.

VA Outsourcing Take Away

When looking for a virtual assistant, be sure to check out their profiles properly to match experience to expectations. Here’s a great post on how to hire a writer on oDesk. The same principles apply to hiring just about any other virtual assistant.

I’d love to know what you think about this. Please share your experience with virtual assistants below.

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