“Great things in business are never done by one person, they’re done by a team of people.” – Steve Jobs, Founder of Apple and NeXT
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Since many startups begin with little money and few resources, it’s likely the owner will wear many hats to set things in motion. Answering calls, managing books, and building a social media presence are all necessary, and yet, there’s only so much “you” to go around. You might even be asking yourself how to work on growing your business if all your time is spent handling daily operations. No one else carries the passion you have for your business, so it’s essential that your time is spent on moving your mission forward. The question is, how do you get the help you need without a team? Hiring a Virtual Assistant may just be the answer to that question. Read on for some helpful tips and strategies to hire and utilize a Virtual Assistant so you can devote your time to scaling your business.
so·lo·pre·neur/ˌsōlōprəˈnər/ noun: solopreneur; plural noun: solopreneurs
Going solo in the beginning phases of your business is sometimes necessary. But if things like scaling your business and gaining personal freedom are your goals, you’ll have to decide which tasks should be accomplished by you, and what can be handled by someone else. Many startups have launched from living room sofas and garages, but the position of solopreneur should be temporary. Managing the daily operations of your business is a sure-fire way to keep you from expanding your bottom line and will eventually lead to burnout. Any successful entrepreneur will tell you that while working long hours and late into the day is a startup reality, sticking to your talents and hiring others to handle matters that don’t align with your strengths is critical to long-term success. Unfortunately, many startups quickly fail, simply because the entrepreneur can’t figure out how to leave the solopreneur hat behind.
Hiring traditional staff can drain what little startup funds you might have. In most cases, employing a team leads to required insurance policies, payroll taxes, and obviously, the need for office space and equipment so your team can work effectively. Tradition has taught us to think the only way to get help is to hire full-time employees. And with limited resources, it’s easy to put off hiring. But what if there is an efficient and cost-effective way to turn ordinary tasks over to someone without the hassle of hiring an employee?
What is a Virtual Assistant (VA)?
A virtual assistant is paid to work for your company, but does so from either a remote office or home. As a remote worker, your assistant operates as a team member without the added needs of office furniture, equipment, supplies and costs associated with an employee. He or she has access to as little or as much of your company as you decide. A General VA can manage tasks like taking calls, clearing your inbox and managing your calendar, while an Executive VA is usually skilled to do things like maintain your website, manage your accounting and other high-level matters. No matter what type of assistant you need, a Virtual Assistant can be hired domestically or internationally and at a fraction of the cost of a traditional employee.
What can a VA do for my business?
The right Virtual Assistant can manage everything from front and back office administration, clerical tasks, calendar and appointment management, sales and marketing, website and e-commerce management, social media marketing, HR, payroll and accounting functions. If you have need for specialized skills, a VA firm can pair you with an assistant who possesses them. Basically you can find a qualified virtual assistant to do any job(s) for which you would employ in-house staff.
When should I hire a VA?
Since a General Virtual Assistant can be hired for just a few dollars per hour, the ideal time to hire one (or more than one) may be right now. Sure, it’s an expense, but when you think about all the time you’re spending on emails and phone calls, the cost is really an investment in your company’s future. Taking the time to determine which tasks you should handle and which ones you can delegate is the first step. Once you have a defined list, you can start researching VAs online through job sites or work with a firm that works with brilliant assistants, like Time etc.
Defining your role as the CEO is critical to determining A: how you should spend time growing your business, and B: what should be delegated to a virtual assistant. Figure your CEO hourly rate and delegate tasks that can be done for less to your assistant. To determine your hourly rate, divide your anticipated revenue growth for the next year by how many hours you intend to work to get there. Example: $100,000 in revenue ÷ 2,080 hours = $48 per hour. Since almost all administrative and office tasks can be managed at a much lower rate, make a list of all the things you don’t like to do, don’t want to do and just flat out aren’t good at doing. Those items are what you should delegate to a VA and then train him or her accordingly.
Define the type of VA to hire, role, and job description. You can post an online job post on a job site like Indeed, or work with a Virtual Assistant source like Time etc. to find the right fit. We also offer a list of VA services in our Vendor Network. Taking the time to ask for referrals and set up interviews will narrow your search for the assistant that best gels with your personality and suits your needs. While you can anticipate saving money on things like payroll taxes, insurance, and office space, you should expect to spend enough time to train your assistant to do exactly what you need. Clearly define the role and expectations with a precise job description and set of standard operating procedures. You’re sure to recapture whatever time you invest in your new team member as time goes by. Asking candidates to take a personality test can also simplify the hiring process. You may even want to take the test yourself to determine your strengths and potential for personal and professional development and help decide what should be delegated.
Set up a trial period without releasing all responsibilities to your assistant all at once. You should expect to stay involved (but not micromanage), at least in the beginning, to ensure important matters like bookkeeping and appointment scheduling don’t go to the wayside or become fraught with errors during the trial. Developing and communicating a 30-90 day trial will encourage your VA to do his or her best work to secure a long-term partnership. A good fit is key to ongoing productivity and success, so it’s really important to give your VA and yourself time to work together without a long-term commitment. If things don’t work out, you’ll know where to pick up and be able to transition quickly to the next candidate.
Collaborating with a Virtual Assistant can provide the “extra hand” you need to stay on top of tasks while maintaining your budget. Virtual assistants can do all the work you need done at a fraction of the cost of a full-time employee. An experienced virtual assistant can provide support for all sorts of tasks, including research, writing content, managing your inbox, answering calls, maintaining your books, and so much more. There are virtual assistants who are trained to be everything from tech support to CFO! Delegating tasks and outcomes to a VA, or even a whole team of VAs can help you to better spend your time on automating your business. Taking the time to interview potential candidates for personality and skillset can save a load of stress, time, and money along the way.
You can hire a VA to manage business hours, even while you sleep. If you’re looking for a 24×7 answering service or customer support team, hiring a VA in a different time zone can be beneficial.
Operating as a solopreneur should be temporary. If all you can afford is to have an assistant clear your inbox at first, it’s money well-spent to regain time for deep work and scaling your business. In the Digital Age, many entrepreneurs have found that hiring VAs in place of full-time staff has actually been more productive and far less stressful than managing traditional employees. Without the additional overhead of office space and employee expenses, you may find that you’re scaling faster with less money. Working smarter, and not harder will help you develop a lean startup that is built to go the distance.
This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 30th, 2021 at 8:00 am and is filed under Small Biz Management, Starting A Business. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
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