Posts Tagged ‘business admin support’

Twenty years ago assistants were only available to senior executives, managers & hot shots! Today, the internet allows even the most modestly funded entrepreneur & employer to hire their own assistant for practically any task of their choosing.

Q: What is a Virtual Assistant?
A: Virtual Assistants or VA’s are freelance workers that  assist executives, entrepreneurs & busy professionals by providing administrative services for a fee

Q: Where do they work from?
A: VA’s work from their own office away from their clients

Q: How do they charge?
A: Usually by the hours and it will vary from between £15-55 per hour depending on the services provided and the amount of hours used. Most VA’s will sell blocks of time to clients who use them on a regular basis and usually for a reduced hourly rate.

Some interesting figures:

74.1% of VA’s are based in the USA, followed by 9% in Canada, 8.2% in Australia & 3.3% in the UK.

Unless you get to meet your VA face to face you will probably find them via on-line networking & marketing sites so it can be hard to know who you can trust unless you have had a recommendation or referral. So here are a few things you may want to consider:

  • Look for VA’s with higher education or equivalent experience working as an executive PA with a large business or corporation or has the equivalent experience as a VA
  • They should have experience with common software such as email, Word, Excel, Publisher etc as well as many of the on-line programmes used for accounting, databases, newsletters etc
  • Ask about their ability to meet a deadline unsupervised and give them achievable ones – they are human after all and not super heroes!
  • Any VA should know their own skills and market only those. Beware of any VA who offers to do it all
  • Ask for at least one supportable positive reference.
  • Identify their credentials and experience
  • Many VA’s have a high level of education and experience in business situations. Remember, this person will be handling your personal arrangements and various work tasks so screen candidates carefully and look for someone whose background matches the work you require

Once you have found your VA you will need to spend some time with them (usually remotely) going through the tasks you want them to take on and sometimes showing them how to use any software they may not be familiar with.

  • Assign all regular tasks that divert you from your core duties. These tasks should be ones that are not crucial to the work you do & will unnecessarily eat up your time such as scheduling meetings, reservations, sending out newsletters or updating the CRM
  • Be clear about the deliverables you expect. This includes format of the file, number of files, method of delivery, due date etc. Leaving things to chance is a recipe for disaster
  • Give detailed instructions. In the early days your VA will not know your preferences. During the first few weeks/months be explicit in your communication about what you need – dates, locations etc – so there is no confusion about the process
  • Establish a process and policies. Over time begin to organise your preferences into polices. This will make it possible to send simple requests and know that it has been handled as you required
  • Define & reinforce these policies over time. The first few times your VA impresses you with their actions commend them on their work and emphasise that this is exactly what you expect in the future

Things to avoid

While the precise methods you use to develop your VA will vary, there are several mistakes that can be damaging to your working relationship. Avoid the following:

  • Do not use your VA to do tasks best performed by yourself.VA’s are there to free up your time and not to perform critical tasks on your behalf.  For example do not use VA’s to compose your blog posts – you are the expert in your field and know what you want to say. However use them to load the post to your site and give it the exposure it requires
  • Do not give your VA too much responsibility too soon. Allow them to prove themselves on increasingly bigger projects before trusting them with important documents or your credit card details!
  • Do not send instructions that could be misinterpreted. Every vague detail introduces the chance of confusion and the best instructions are those which are not ambiguous
  • Do not overreact to early mistakes. Even the most experienced VA will make mistakes in the beginning. So you should accept that your VA will occasionally make small errors
REMEMBER…DO WHAT YOU DO BEST & DELEGATE THE REST

The more your business grows, the more administrative tasks you have; the more time you spend on administrative tasks, the less time you have to generate new business.

How much is your time really worth? More than it costs to use a Virtual Assistant?

Time is your most valuable asset because it is your responsibility to generate new revenue for your business. Your second most valuable asset is your VA!

Doing small and often trivial administrative chores yourself does not really add value to your business and the sensible solution is to delegate those less profitable tasks by hiring someone more than capable of carrying them out, but whose hourly rate is somewhat less than your real financial worth. So what’s stopping you?

You may have a multitude of reasons that prevent you from hiring a full-time personal assistant. You may not need a full-time, or even part-time employee but just require someone for occasional or limited secretarial services. Then there are the employers responsibilities, employees are entitled to sick pay, maternity leave and paid holiday and often seek generous benefits packages. It is estimated that the true cost of an employee is over double and often up to triple the cost of their annual salary in terms of benefits and liabilities.

Significant for some potential employers is also the loss of privacy and space – are you working from home or have limited office space? You may not want an employee working from your home or simply not have the room for an additional employee in your office or all the equipment they may need.

Wouldn’t it be perfect if you had a business assistant that was always ready to work for you, but only when you need them? Providing administrative services from their own home or office, using their own equipment?  Meet the Virtual Assistant (VA), an invaluable work force that provides a practical solution for small businesses owners. A VA frees up your valuable time so you can concentrate on the important things that only you can do in your business.

There is no need to share office space or even for your VA to live in the same town or city. Work assignments are communicated through email; telephone, fax or post and web-based tools such as instant messengers and online calendars and planners are also often used as a means of keeping in touch.

Because your VA is self-employed, and invoices you only for the actual hours worked or by tasks completed, and is dependent on referrals and steady work flow from existing clients, she/he can be the perfect solution for a busy small business or entrepreneur. When you hire a VA you get all the benefits of outsourcing – no employer liabilities, tax and benefits issues, along with knowing you have someone to whom you can delegate.

You can easily justify a virtual assistant in terms of your greater productivity and your greater efficiency. You need to be the leader in your business and your VA will insure that you focus on what is important, rather than urgent. Your VA can also lend “size” to your company, which will impress potential clients.

As more and more businesses move their marketing and communications to the Internet, VA’s are becoming the obvious solution to staffing issues. For an hourly fee often less than the real cost of employees, businesses can take advantage of professional assistance and a variety of skills at the click of a mouse.

When is the right time to hire a virtual assistant?| CanDoCanBe

Doing your homework before you hire a Virtual Assistant can turn the vision into a reality. The notion of hiring a Virtual Assistant may seem too good to be true, however the following steps will get you on the right track to finding the right VA for you and it  will save you time and money when you do start looking!

As business owners themselves, Virtual Assistants are also professionals with experience in running a business so are understanding of your needs. Although some Virtual Assistants will specialise, they also have skills in many other areas so you will want to understand and appreciate what skills are most valuable to you.

If you follow these steps, the benefits will become obvious!

  • Write down the tasks you perform each day. You may want to do this over a week or two. Write down everything; checking email, calling customers, advertising, etc.
  • Go through your list and determine everything that is repetitive or can be considered a process, and create a new list.
  • As you perform each task on your list, document the steps as they are performed, from start to finish.
  • Create an “Actions” document for each task. This will increase your confidence that things will be done the way you want them to be done when you hand them over.
  • Make a new list of all the things you should be doing but can’t seem to find the time, and the projects that you lack the necessary skills to complete. It may be organising your inventory, getting your first website online, updating content, contacting previous customers, getting started with and running your Social Media Marketing or researching new opportunities.
  • Go through your “To Dos” and determine the types of experience needed to complete your projects (i.e. internet research, web design, customer service skills, etc.).

Now that you have all your processes documented, and you know the skills that you are looking for, you are ready to find a VA that fits your needs.

Virtual Assistant for marketing and business administration – When to consider outsourcing.

“Don’t keep him waiting, child! Why, his time is worth a thousand pounds a minute!” Lewis Carroll, “Through the Looking Glass”

How often do you say you have no time? You’re pushed for time, short of time, can’t find the time. Lack of time is the excuse of choice for not doing all sorts of jobs: tackling the office admin, sorting out the filing, organising your business contacts, writing another blog post … the list is endless.

Yet time is one commodity we all share equally: everybody on the planet has 60 minutes in every hour, 24 hours in every day. The difference between people who get things done and those who don’t isn’t in the amount of time they have, but how they use it. And how you use your time depends to some extent on how you value it.

Is your time worth a thousand pounds a minute? Probably not: Lewis Carroll was having a bit of a go at Victorian materialism when he picked that figure, and even today, Britain’s richest man, the Duke of Westminster, only makes £1020 a minute! My standard fee is £30 an hour, so my time is worth just 50p a minute!

Even if the value of your time is measured in pence rather than pounds, it’s a good idea to try and understand how much your time is worth and how it compares with that of other people. You may find that you’re wasting time and missing business opportunities by doing routine jobs yourself instead of paying someone else to do them. The concept isn’t easy to get your head round, so here’s a couple of examples:

A plumber charges £75 an hour and is in constant demand, yet he’ll give up three or four hours of his time every month to do the books. In four hours he’s losing £300 in potential earnings and it could cost him £120 to get this job done!

So what is your time worth? Are you making the best use of your time or wasting it doing jobs that someone else could do for less?

The above is a shortened version of a Blog written by Ruth Billheimer from My Paper Work, a Bradford based Virtual Assistant. To read the full article please click on the link below.

How much is your time worth? | My Paper Work.

Who needs a Virtual Assistant?

More and more people are becoming familiar with the term “Virtual Assistant” or “VA” but who actually needs one? The answer is simple, anyone who owns a business!

Hiring a full or part-time employee can be expensive and many small businesses cannot afford them, however this doesn’t mean they don’t need one. In today’s tough economy it is even more important to spend time on building your business and providing excellent customer service to keep the business and clients you already have. We all know there are only so many hours in the day and it is often impossible for everything to be done by one person, especially those seemingly mundane, but important, daily admin tasks. This is when delegating to a VA can be a life saver.

So what type of business can benefit from the services of a Virtual Assistant? Small business owners, entrepreneurs, consultants, coaches and trainers, therapists, photographers, artists, journalists…the list is practically endless. There are so many small business owners who are overwhelmed with the amount of work they need to do to run their own business and need the help of an assistant.
Many business owners are unfamiliar with virtual administrative professionals and the services available. Some may feel that cannot afford one and continue to struggle with everything themselves, some may outsource to a variety of professionals rather than utilise the knowledge and expertise of one VA.

Why Hire a Virtual Assistant?

VA’s are your online, personal assistants who perform a variety of workloads including clerical, administrative and creative tasks such as:
• Schedule appointments
• Coordinate with clients, partners and other employees
• Screen and make calls
• Monitor emails
• Prepare reports and documents
• Update accounts and expenses
• Update blogs & websites
• Update client databases
• Create and send newsletters

VA’s are flexible with the length of service they provide as hours and requirements will differ from client to client and some VA’s will just specialise in specific jobs such as handling emails or incoming sales enquiries.

While a full or part-time employee is paid regardless of the amount of work given to them a VA is paid only when their services are needed. This means less expense to you because you are only paying for the time used to complete your work and not for any down time or coffee breaks!

Today’s technology and the speed that the internet gives us in the delivery and exchange of information means that communication today is as effective as face to face interactions. The internet continuously reaches new horizons and the world is becoming a smaller place which means that employment is not hindered by space and distance.

So why hire a VA? Because today’s technology means you can!

Channel Virtual Assistance