You may know about the growing virtual assistance industry already, while some are still not sure how the whole thing works. If you're wondering why hire a virtual assistant over a regular employee and which of the two is better, you've come to the right place. This article will help you determine if a virtual assistant is right for your business, and if it is, how you go about hiring one.
What is a virtual assistant and what does a virtual assistant do?
A virtual assistant is a freelancer who offers different services to businesses under a contract from their home office. Virtual assistants in Australia should have an ABN and the appropriate insurances. What a virtual assistant actually does for your business is a more complicated question. Different virtual assistants based in Australia offer a range of different services from virtual admin and bookkeeping through to social media virtual assistance.
How do you know when do you need to hire a virtual assistant?
There are a few key questions that can help you determine if or when you may need a virtual assistant.
1) Are you spending time on tasks that don't contribute to your business growth?
Examples of this are bookkeeping, payroll and data control, these are generally completed the same week in and week out. The advantages of outsourcing these tasks is you free up your time to focus on generating income.
2) Which brings me to my next question, do these tasks require a full-time or part-time employee of a minimum of 15 hours?
The law requires employees to be given certain guarantees for example a full-time employee needs a minimum of 30 hours, a part-time employee 15 and even a casual cannot be called in for less than 3 hours at a time. The benefits of outsourcing bookkeeping, admin, social media, email management and customer service tasks to a virtual assistant is you can book only the hours you need when you need them. Most virtual assistants will offer monthly packages, providing you the flexibility to use the hours when and how you need them.
3) Are you in control of your data?
The tasks discussed above, when handled by the business owner, can often be pushed aside or rushed as more important and pressing matters hit your desk. The problem with this is while tedious and repetitive, these tasks are what provide you a strong foundation to make the right decisions, be a consistent image to your clients and effectively manage your employee workflow. Outsourcing these to a virtual assistant ensures your data is always at your fingertips and nothing in your business gets missed.
4) What are your current goals?
Business growth, of course! But what areas have you identified as key focus areas? Are you lacking presence? Do you need a more professional image to stand out from your competition? Outsourcing social media or google listing management can save your time for the big ticket areas such as new product launches or service management.
5) Do any of your customer enquiries slip through the cracks?
This can often happen as screening potential customers can be time-consuming and frustrating, especially if you have moved through the whole process to nurture the lead, only to find out it has been a waste of time. However, any one of those leads that slipped past could be a big ticket client that you've missed. A virtual assistant is the perfect way to ensure every lead is screened, qualified and nurtured before they find their way to you.
6) Is your to-do list and calendar so long and jam packed that sometimes you miss a meeting or priority task?
A virtual assistant manages your to-do list and calendar and ensures you have a detailed daily schedule every morning on your desk... or in your inbox. Appointment and task reminders from important meetings to your wife's birthday, are on our radar so you never miss a thing.
What are the benefits of working with a virtual assistant?
First, the big one, reduce costs
How can hiring a virtual assistant reduce costs? In more ways than one.
First, an employee on average costs you up to 40% more than their wages. How? Through insurance, superannuation, overheads, time paid for coffee and lunch breaks, paid leave, and the list goes on. All these can add up to an employee you hired for $50,000.00 a year, costing you between $65,000.00 and $70,000.00 a year. That's quite a mark up. These expenses are eliminated with virtual assistance. For example, you'll have no need for an office or related equipment, I work with your business from my own home office based in Queensland, Australia. As a freelancer offering virtual assistance, you will not have to pay me superannuation or leave and you definitely don't pay for coffee breaks. You also won't need insurance or to pay overheads such as electricity or internet for my work. I am registered with an ABN and the appropriate insurance.
Boost efficiency, productivity and growth
By eliminating paying for things that aren't helping your business such as breaks, that additional $15,000.00 to $20,000.00 can be reinvested in your business. You're ultimately gaining 40% more productivity for 40% less of the cost.
Your time is also saved from medial tasks so you are freed up for strategic thinking, product launches, investment, performance and growth. Not to mention, you can take back that work-life balance that you and your family deserve. I don't know about you, but I know far too many business owners that are spending their nights on invoicing, quotes and data entry when they should be getting that much needed R&R.
Provide consistency for your clients and staff
Tasks such as scheduling, customer enquiries, email management, newsletters, research and data entry can be tiresome for your employees or yourself when you have a to-do list a mile long. Often this can result in quick responses to clients, ignored emails, late memos and newsletters to staff, missing deadlines and appointments and thereby, result in lower customer and staff perception of your business' value. This results in lower productivity and higher turnover from staff and reduced sales and return business. An experienced admin virtual assistant offers consistency for businesses to ensure every lead is nurtured, staff have all the resources they need and only priority tasks hit your desk.
Accelerate your workflows and operations
A virtual assistant will offer flexibility and automation through their systems and processes. A good virtual assistant is highly organised and detail orientated in his or her business and will bring these skills into your business. In addition, having the behind the scenes handled for you means only the important decision making falls on you after the research and background work has been done.
Okay, so you've decided you need a virtual assistant. How do you find a virtual assistant for your business?
How do you find and pick a virtual assistant in Australia?
There are a number of options today for finding the right virtual assistant for your business. Most virtual assistants are self-employed, offering services to businesses through packages. Today, there is a growing number of companies offering virtual assistants for:
Bookkeeping and payroll
Lead management and customer support
Social media management and marketing
Data cleansing and management
Professional image services
What kind of virtual assistant you want will depend on your businesses needs.
What to look for and how to spot a fake
Unfortunately, it does not take any training, education or skill requirements to become a virtual assistant. It is highly unregulated and anyone can wake up one morning and decide to start a virtual assistant business. So how do you know what to look for to ensure you pick the right virtual assistant for you?
1) Ask for ABN and insurance details
To make sure you're dealing with a licensed professional, ask for their ABN and insurance numbers to ensure your business is protected and safe.
2) Request a capability statement or portfolio
Either of these provide details on the virtual assistant's experience, qualifications and skill set so you can assess whether these fit with your business.
Look for a communication plan or explanation on how your communication will be handled. Ensuring there is clear communication, English skills and professional language is key if they will be generating paperwork or dealing with your clients.
4) Asks about your business, goals, industry or services
A virtual assistant cannot possibility do right by your company if they don't have an interest in understanding your vision and mission.
5) Problem solving skills and willingness to learn
An ideal virtual assistant will be able to solve problems independently and will strive to build skills and knowledge needed for your business. Rather than trying to find a virtual assistant that knows everything... which can be an impossible feat... find a virtual assistant who is passionate about learning and increasing their skill sets for different programs and strategies.
Virtual assistant contractor or virtual assistant company?
The choice really does lie with you, there are a range of advantages and disadvantages of both options. A virtual assistant contractor is often working solo or with a small team of virtual assistants so limits the clients onboarded. A virtual assistant company on the other hand often has many virtual assistants working under them. If you prefer individualised services and to work with one virtual assistant, often a virtual assistant contractor would be the better choice. If you don't mind working with different virtual assistants and want a company handling scheduling, a virtual assistant company could be your preferred option.
Overseas virtual assistant or Australia-based virtual assistant?
This question again comes down to your needs and what services you require from your virtual assistant. If you are looking to have odd tasks and projects completed that require initial instruction and very little collaboration, an overseas virtual assistant could work for you. If you're requiring ongoing support, collaboration and client management services, an Australian-based virtual assistant will work in the same time zone as your business and clients.
How do you work with your virtual assistant?
How do you onboard and work with a virtual assistant?
Different virtual assistants have varying onboarding processes and your company will have individual needs to share. My process involves sharing a client welcoming pack that allows us to collect and share the relevant information we need to work together. We go through an onboarding process that includes understanding your company mission, vision, company structure and strategic goals.
My process for working together to ensure you are able to track and monitor project completion and progress is handled in a few different ways:
1) Communication, communication, communication
Ensuring you have access to many forms of communicating with me is a priority, I offer a range of messaging options including Telegram, Slack, Microsoft Teams and more. Meetings will be scheduled as needed to clarify or discuss progress. I have these programs set up from my home office as well as my mobile to ensure I am accessible when needed.