How to Grow Your Business With Virtual Assistants (Infographic) Think of a virtual assistant as a partner, rather than a 'hired gun.'
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Once an entrepreneur has successfully navigated the first few months of his or her startup phase, the focus typically shifts to a larger but more exciting challenge: "How do I grow my business?"
In various ways, business development represents another kind of startup phase, but this time with different goals, objectives and risks. An entrepreneur will not have the financial capacity to take on big risks at this stage and must therefore be more strategic and purposeful in his or her approach. The best option? Integrate virtual assistants into the plan to provide several advantages.
1. Realign your budget.
The number one reason people hire virtual assistants is to reduce their cost of business. Compared to a regular or full-time employee, a virtual assistant costs less because the business owner does not pay benefits.
Also, a virtual assistant, as a sole proprietor of his or own business, covers those expenses. Thus, you don't have to allocate funds for additional Internet bandwidth, power and rent. It's estimated that hiring virtual assistants can save you as much as 40 percent in business expenses.
These savings can then be re-aligned or re-channeled to other aspects of your business, such as a digital marketing campaign, or an upgrade to your operating systems.
2. Scale your business.
If your financials show that your volume of business has been steadily and constantly increasing, but turnaround time for deliverables has markedly slowed down, it may be time to scale up your business.
Scaling requires additional man- and woman-power to accommodate the increasing volume of work. At this point, the last thing you'll want to do is to impede your momentum due to poor service or inventory shortfalls. So, you'll be adding more people, but, due to wide cost differentials, full-time employees will likely be out of the question.
Virtual assistants, however, will not only keep your incremental costs lower but keep your business flexible. How?
- Virtual assistants do not have set work schedules; you can assign them to shifts that require greater attention.
- You spend less time training because virtual assistants already have the experience and competency level to get the job done.
- Since virtual assistants are on a contractual basis, they can be easily terminated and replaced.
When scaling up your business, working with a virtual assistance agency is your best option because its personnel have been selected for their experience and reviews from past and current clients. They can easily replace your current virtual assistant if that engagement does not yield productive results.
3. Organize your business.
A glaring weakness of most entrepreneurs is their lack of organizational skill. That's not necessarily a shortcoming; it's just that with so much work to do, the need to organize often takes a backseat to more essential tasks. Yet, organization encourages greater productivity.
Fortunately, what may be your weakness in organization is a virtual assistant's strength, especially if he or she has the experience to help you find the best frameworks for a system that will organize your business. If you are not tech-savvy, a virtual assistant can set up a virtual workplace where everything from project management and file-sharing, to time-keeping and communication can be accomplished.
A virtual workplace in short makes it easier to delegate work, track performance and collaborate frequently with your virtual team. You can get more work done and minimize the risks of mistakes and oversights.
4. Delegate non-essential tasks.
The next good reason for hiring virtual assistants is to free you, the entrepreneur, from nonessential tasks. These include:
- Phone call coverage
- Email filtering
- Calendar management
- Appointment setting
- CRM updates
- Social media management
- Payroll preparation
While you probably have the skills to do all or most of these tasks, you will definitely not have the time. And even if you do, your available time is better spent on functions that require your core competency or are directly related to generating revenues for your business.
5. Capitalize on specialization.
Virtual assistants are no longer limited to personal assistant "secretarial" services. Over the years, as the need to streamline costs has grown, and the Internet has increased its significance in the global business environment, the virtual assistance industry has likewise undergone a transformation. Specifically, the industry opened its doors to more specialized and technical skills to accommodate demand across a wide spectrum of services. You can now find virtual assistants for the following specialized skills:
- Website design and development
- Content management services
- Digital marketing
- Software development
- Medical, legal and audio Transcription
- Translation services
- Inventory management
- Data protection and security
- Market research
This is just a short-list featuring 11 currently in-demand services. But it shows the many possibilities for building a team of virtual assistants to cover different areas of your business.
6. Build a strategic partnership.
A common misconception of people not familiar with virtual assistants is that these are merely "hired guns": Once they have completed the assignment, they will leave you for the next one. But that is far from the truth. Keep in mind, for instance, that virtual assistants own their own businesses. Like you, they too want to grow their enterprise Therefore it's in their best interest to consistently perform above and beyond expectations in order to maintain your account.
Shared interest equals a strategic partnership. When working with your virtual assistant, bring him or her inside your process. Indoctrinate your assistant in your culture, open up the virtual floor and allow him or her the opportunity to share ideas. Collaboration is a powerful tool that will take your business to the next level. When both parties are motivated to attain a common goal, spectacular results may occur.
A virtual assistant, then, is not just a person contracted to complete a project from a remote location using the Internet. Properly utilized, a virtual assistant can become your "secret weapon" in building your business, by being one side of your double-edged sword. A virtual assistant is an asset guaranteed to lower your business costs significantly without compromising your productivity. In fact, your assistant will increase productivity exponentially.
For more on virtual assistants, check out their infographic from OutsourceWorkers.com.au.