October 30, 2014

Virtual Assistants Help Entrepreneurs Grow Sales

Use a virtual assistant to free you up to grow salesI’ve heard it said “do what you love and delegate the rest.”

For small business owners, one of the biggest challenges is wearing all the hats. We originally went into business because we had a passion and skill for a certain service or product. However, our skills may not include the operational, marketing or financial end of the business.

In the past we were limited to two choices:

  • Wear every hat, fill every role to the best of our ability hoping there will be time to seek new clients and take care of servicing our existing clients.
  • Hire employees to fill those roles so that we can focus on growing our business.

Hiring employees can keep us from the business of doing business: personality issues, fixed expense whether we need them or not, scheduling conflicts, learning curve, training obstacles and on and on.

However a third choice is growing in popularity: Outsourcing.

Harris Poll recently surveyed 1,005 U.S. professionals about outsourcing and learned that:

  • 67% of adults would happily outsource a wide variety of tasks they dread.
  • 55% believe a Virtual Assistant would allow them to focus on more important (income producing) tasks.
  • 34% believe that outsourcing to a Virtual Assistant would allow them to improve their job performance.

The survey, underwritten by Elance, an online global workplace connecting executives with outsourced professionals, reveals that many businesses are choosing outsourcing over full or part time employees. Outsourcing saves time, money, aggravation and allows you to focus on your business and grow sales.

Working with a Virtual Assistant, just like hiring an employee requires planning and organization up front. You need to determine what tasks make the most sense to outsource.  One of Elance’s clients, Jonathan Fleming, San Francisco Bay Area real estate agent and entrepreneur, has been using Elance for four years, and told me:

“My business has grown over 40% thanks to using my Virtual Assistants. I like the fact that they are available when I need them. We have weekly meetings where I provide a detailed listing of tasks. Elance offers a project management system that ensures projects are completed on time.

There are reviews and portfolios and as well as the opportunity to connect with other entrepreneurs and ask their opinion. I have a Virtual Assistant that keeps my website up to date, another one who updates my blog content and a third one that writes sales letters and keeps my database current. Before using a Virtual Assistant I would spend as much as 4 hours a day on administrative tasks and now I spend less than 30 minutes.”

Like anything, the more time you are willing to invest initially in setting specific parameters for each task and using multiple Virtual Assistants for a variety of tasks, the more benefit you’ll receive.

Elance customer Jeffrey Schwartz of Vertical Passion Media regularly works with 6-12 Elance professionals and estimates that he is saving $100,000 – $200,000 per year versus the cost involved with hiring full time employees.

Bottom line, outsourcing allows you to focus on revenue generating tasks and grow your business while ensuring the necessary administrative tasks continue running smoothly behind the scenes.

Have you ever used a virtual assistant in your business?  Did it free you up to work on growing your sales?  What was your experience?

32 Comments ▼

Deborah Brown




32 Reactions

  1. Virtual assistants are absolutely a must.

    What was most eye-opening to me when I started using them was the number of things that got done that I normally had to blow off previously.

    Not super critical stuff, but “business piggy bank” kinds of things that need to be done daily or weekly that I simply wasnt getting to.

    I found a grandmother who is online savvy and wanted something to do while her granddaughter was in school. She’s thrilled to get the extra $ and have something meaningful to do and Im glad to be getting that work done so I can do more important things.

    I have a recurring reminder in my Outlook that is the first todo item for me each day. It is “Decide what to delegate to my assistant today.” Its first for a reason:)

    Mark

  2. I’ve been dragging my heels on this for the past couple of years, but I’m really at the point where I just can’t do it by myself anymore, and virtual assistants are looking more and more like the way to go. One resource I’ve been pouring over that looks pretty good is the International Virtual Assistants Association (http://www.ivaa.org/). I’ve been on the other side of the aisle with places like elance, and the whole “will work for 25 cents and a little praise” aspect of it still leaves a bad taste.

  3. I’ve learned the value of outsourcing. If it were not for contracted service providers, I could not run my business. Haven’t used a virtual assistant per se, but certainly would consider it. I do use “virtual” help for other roles though.

  4. I think virtual assistants can be very helpful. I know there are some things I would like done but just can’t find the extra time. I think it is also a great opportunity for people looking to make extra income from home.

  5. I like the name of the tab, “water cooler”. It is a good sign to see a community, talk area, blog and an university.

  6. In addition to virtual assistants, who do offer an excellent resource for small business owners, I also appreciate the help of an assistant or errand company as well. I find balancing my personal responsibilities and business can be challenging too. Someone that can do my grocery shopping, go on errands, some organizing in my office, etc., can also take the edge off the long list of TO DO’s that never seems to end. As a small business coach I am constantly asking my clients, what can you delegate so you can have more time to grow your business? Some tips for hiring one: http://www.onlineorganizing.com/ExpertAdviceToolboxTips.asp?tipsheet=100.

  7. A great place to fine VAs is the AssistU registry (www.assistu.com). A huge benefit of finding and working with the ~right~ VA is that you gain an invaluable “business partner.” A VA not only handles the small stuff but will also invest time and thought in your business. When you find the right VA, you’ll be amazed at the results.

  8. I agree, there is so much to do and of course even as small business owners we only have 2 hands and 24 hours in a day.

  9. Deborah,

    We supply virtual assistants for independent professionals who are struggling to manage all their tasks and are low on time. For 25 bucks an hour-it’s extremely affordable for solo-entrepreneurs.

    So far, the results have been fantastic. Our clients claim to see an increase in profit…and sanity!

    What could be better?

    -Shama

  10. Wonderful article highlighting the benefits of virtual assistance. It can be hard to take the plunge but when you truly think about how much money you are actually losing by trying to do it all yourself, the benefits become clear. Let’s say you are a consultant billing $150/hour. You spend 3 hours a day on administrative tasks. If you hire a VA for those same 3 hours (and a trained administrative professional can probably do what you accomplish in 3 hours in less time) at $50/hour (just a figure I pulled out of the air — VA rates differ) you’ll be making $100 for each of those hours instead of losing $150 for each of those hours.

    IVAA is a great resource for VAs. If you are looking for real estate specific VAs, you can also check out IREAA — http://www.ireaa.com, or my website.

  11. Hi there, again. I have to jump back in. Most trained VAs will make closer to the $50/hour range. That figure is roughly equivalent to $20-$25/hour in the traditional office setting. VAs pay their own taxes, pay their own phone & internet expenses, buy their own office equipment, etc. $50/hour may sound expensive at first, but as Sarah Greene stated, you’re still making more in those hours. Plus, if you hire based solely on the hourly rate, are you sure you’re “purchasing” quality help? A Virtual Assistant will become your best resource and most trusted ally. Don’t skimp.

  12. Hi there – I’ve used people on elance for one off projects and I’d really like to find a Virtual Assistant who could do some of the more basic tasks for me on a regular basis.

    Employing people has always been a huge pain for me in the past and I hiring Virtual Assistants would enable me to keep costs down, as I’d be able to continue to work at home.

    I think the daunting task will be finding a good one. I suppose you could outsource a few smaller tasks to someone, then if they seem good, you could ask if they’d like work on a regular basis.

  13. Jennifer expanded on the issue quite well, but I just wanted to clarify my own post. I certainly was not implying that you should look for a *cheap* VA. My point was really that VA rates differ — some will charge less than $50, some will charge more than $50. Each VA is a small business owner and determines their own rates for services. A VA can be an excellent partner in helping your business to grow and price should not be the sole factor in determining which one you work with.

  14. Hi CatherineL,

    If you are in the market to find a VA to work with, try the AssistU registry. The website is http://assistu.com/ and you can choose ‘How do I find a VA?’ There is an explanation of AssistU and its registry process. I’m just completing the AssistU training program, although I’ve been working virtually for 4 years now.

    Good luck with your search.

  15. Lots of good comments. It is very helpful to hear what fee a good VA should expect. I had no idea that there was such a demand for good assistants. It has got me thinking about my own business & personal direction. Something to consider for me to maybe try, I believe I would be good at it.

  16. I am so impressed by what I am reading here on the many chores a VA does take on and the money to be made doing so. Like Amanda, it’s something to think about.

  17. For any of you in the market for a ‘VA’ don’t only look at the hourly rate. I am a virtual assistant and I always tell prospective clients when I speak with them that when they choose a virtual assistant, they should determine whether or not their personalities will match. Of course, budget will play a factor, as will the skills needed. But honestly, there are tons of VAs out there that have the same skills and charge the same rate. What sets us all apart is personality.

    Here are a couple more places to go when you’re looking for a VA:

    http://www.VANetworking.com (world’s biggest VA organization)
    http://www.CVAC.ca (Canadian VA association)

  18. Good point Jaime. I guess it only makes sense that personalities have to mesh even if you aren’t physically going to work everyday. Clashing personalities makes any job unbearable.

  19. Well said, Jaime. And remember, a good VA should immediately put the potential client’s best interests first by referring you to another VA if she doesn’t think there’s a good match. Virtual Assistance works best when a VA and another professional join forces to work together. That’s the difference between hiring a temp or someone for projects and piecework and working with (not hiring) a VA.

  20. The Virtual Assistance Chamber of Commerce is a fantastic resource for business owners seeking qualified and competent Virtual Assistant professionals. Of particular interest:

    Client’s Guide to Virtual Assistants:
    http://www.virtualassistantnetworking.com/client-guide.htm

    How to Hire a Virtual Assistant:
    http://www.virtualassistantnetworking.com/how-to-hire-a-virtual-assistant.htm

    Virtual Assistant Directory:
    http://www.virtualassistantnetworking.com/directory/

    RFP Center:
    http://www.virtualassistantnetworking.com/rfp-center.htm

    Get to Know Our Virtual Assistants:
    http://www.virtualassistantnetworking.com/subscribe.htm

  21. A virtual assistant can help you grow your small business or home based business by handling your administrative support tasks. If you’re a successful small business entrepreneur, you’ve already learned the value of outsourcing tasks in order to spend your time strategically growing your business and working on bottom-line functions.

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  23. This is a wonderful article. When businesses partner with a virtual assistant they can expect to see an improvement in their productivity and so much more. The stress seems to melt away. In my business I tell my clients I will “turn your stress into success” You can delegate time consuming tasks or just the things you hate doing. There is a wonderful article at VAnetworking.com that talks about the top 10 things a VA can do for your business that I find very helpful http://www.vanetworking.com/VA-top-ten/virtual-assistant-can-do-for-business.htm

  24. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I’ve enjoyed reading and I can say that I have learned a lot from this post and appreciate that you took the time to write it. Nice blog.

  25. I agree, Virtual Personal Assistant is a must. The major advantage of hiring a Virtual Personal Assistant instead of hiring a regular office worker is that it comes out cheaper for the company. Take advantage of it.

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