Virtual Assistant Services Can Pave the Way for Scalable Business
This article about how a virtual assistant can help your business is complemented by this article of The 5 Top Fiverr Gigs for New Entrepreneurs and Creators. Video version of this article here.
During the 2020 lockdown, my two companies remained closed for months. Since I could not remain idle only waiting for the best, I applied the Talebian concept of Barbell Strategyby starting a new business, not related to the other two.
Fast-forward to 2021, and most of the restrictions were lifted. A fresh problem came to the surface.
I had not enough time to manage all the 3 enterprises and invest in my career as a writer. More than half of my hours, though, went for routine tasks. Tasks that someone else could perform remotely.
That is when I discovered marketplaces offering services of Virtual Assistants (VAs).
You may be familiar with this service. If this is the case, jump straight to the section Extra advantages of hiring a virtual assistant (I bet you don’t know some of them). If you never heard about a VA, however, keep reading the section below.
What is a Virtual Assistant?
Every business has two types of activities: the core tasks and the back-office (or auxiliary) tasks.
One of the traditional ways to define them is to call the first as revenue-generating tasks and the second as non-revenue generating, but this is a controversial approach. There are plenty of core tasks that do not generate any cent, and some back-office activities can also be revenue streams.
The easiest way to understand it is by using examples, like those below.
- Car dealership core task: Selling cars.
- Car dealership back-office tasks: Bookkeeping, Payroll, Webpage SEO, etc.
- Digital marketing agency core tasks: SEO planning, campaign design, etc.
- Digital marketing agency back-office tasks: Payroll, tabulate page rank indicators, translate content, etc.
Auxiliary tasks are often repetitive and can be done remotely. If you have a promising business proposition and need to develop it, you should not be wasting hours and hours with data entry and tabulation.
That was my mistake until I find Fiverr and discover how a virtual assistant (VA) could help me.
A VA is a person who provides remote services for companies or entrepreneurs. The business gives them the necessary access to data and systems, and they perform their jobs in the scheduled time, later billing the company for the worked hours.
You may find well-qualified VAs for a universe of jobs on platforms like Fiverr or Freelancer. Their rates are low since they live in countries with cheaper living costs — my VA is from the Philippines and her rate is $5 per hour. While this is an affordable price for me, it is three times more than the average hourly salary ($1.82) paid by the same job in her country. It is a good deal for her, and for my business.
Perhaps hiring remote workers from less developed nations is a questionable practice. I will not enter this discussion here, although I think it is better for them to work for a living than to survive on donations from richer countries.
To hire a VA was a significant decision. It freed time enough of my schedule to pursue other initiatives, like writing 3 books, and developing my 3 businesses.
There are still other untold benefits.
How a Virtual Assistant Can Help Your Business?
1 — You turn on the “Scalability mode” in your operations.
To scale a business almost always means to increase work volume. To handle this extra load, a company needs manpower that is flexible to hire, easy to find, and readily available.
All these 3 characteristics are the standard among well-qualified VAs on Fiverr.
Imagine a situation where your online firm welcomes an abnormal amount of customers from a certain idiom — for example, Mandarin — but you have only one online attendant who speaks it.
What a terrible bottleneck, right?
To solve it, you can quickly hire bilingual VAs fluent in this language and train them in your routines, or they can act as translators, forwarding client requests to other members of your team.
2 — VAs can bring new best practices to your company.
Some virtual assistants on Fiverr already had over 100 different clients, doing always the same tasks (eg: writing video transcriptions or doing web research). They are experienced professionals with deep knowledge of how to optimize their processes and make the best of their time.
You can adapt those practices to your firm later and improve your business systems.
3–24 hours per day, 7 days per week availability
If your business operates in multiple time zones, you may have customer requests at any moment of the day. It can be challenging (or expensive) to find a local professional willing to work at 3 or 4 AM.
When you hire VAs, your inconvenient graveyard shifts can be very well at their daytime. By hiring 2 or 3 VAs in distinct time zones, you can cover all the 24 hours off a day with no issues.
If your company does not have 24 hours’ support, you should think about it. It may drastically increase your reputation and widen your market reach.
The same applies to festivities or holidays. It is complicated to find people willing to work on January 01 at 02 in the morning. But what if your VA is still in the afternoon of December 31?
4 — You pay for what you get.
Virtual Assistants will charge you only for the worked hours. If your company, like mine, closed temporarily due to force majeure reasons, it is enough to suspend the task requests. Of course, this must be done with a few days of anticipation, as agreed beforehand.
Expenses with VA can also match the seasonality of your business. During periods with less activity and revenue, your virtual assistant may work less, therefore reducing your expenses.
Another plus is that experienced VAs often inform you in advance how much time they need to fulfill your requests, so you can forecast a budget.
What does a virtual assistant do?
Which tasks an entrepreneur or a business can outsource to a virtual assistant? Here are some ideas:
1 — Tasks not requiring a full-time employee.
If you need a person to research the competitor’s prices a few times per week or to format excel sheets every second day, would be non-sense to recruit staff for it.
For these one-off jobs, the best call is to hire a virtual assistant.
2 — When There Are Repetitive And Non-Core Tasks
Entrepreneurs often spend a humongous amount of time on auxiliary tasks, like answering simple questions from their social media pages or benchmarking competitor’s prices.
It is easy to instruct a virtual assistant to do these repetitive, non-core tasks for you. By doing this, you will free extra time to use on core activities and develop your business.
How a Virtual Assistant Can Help Your Business? Going directly to the point, here are some tasks VAs can perform:
- Payroll calculation, updating salaries on excel sheets, etc.
- Database entry and updates (contacts, leads, etc.)
- Record and send invoices.
- Format reports on sales, hours, costs, etc.
- Manage the spam folder of your e-mail inbox.
- Organize support tickets
- Calendar administration: update and manage important meetings and events.
- Convert, split or merge PPT, PDF, or DOC files.
- Keyword research.
- Competitor analysis (prices, products, etc.) according to a defined template.
- Replicate and share posts on social media.
- Basic photo and video editing (split, merge, add soundtracks, etc).
- Prepare and upload files to YouTube.
- Transcription of videos and audio.
- Contact clients about late payments.
- Train other virtual assistants to execute similar tasks.
What is the price of a virtual assistant?
They gave their prices by the hour and will vary according to the level of sophistication.
- A VA with good qualifications for a simple data-entry / copy-paste job: $5/hour
- A VA for basic issues with WordPress: $5/hour
- A VA for Amazon FBA listing: $10/hour
- A VA with top qualifications for Amazon Seller Center Account Management: $30/hour
Conclusion about how a virtual assistant can help your business.
The Math of How Many Hours (or Money) You Will Earn
Let’s calculate how much you will save by hiring a VA, taking my case as an example.
When I hired a virtual assistant, I freed time to write.
Now I spend around 40 hours per month writing on Medium. Dividing my average Medium earnings (approx. $1350 per month), I discover that my average income per hour writing here is $33.75.
Before hiring a VA, I could spend a maximum of 20 hours per month on my articles.
I hired her to work 20 hours per month at a cost of $100. These hours were now free on my schedule. I increased my Medium income (again considering average values since it has drastic variations) by $675.
A net increase of $575 per month. Besides, she is doing a job at least as good, if not better, than I was doing.
What are you waiting to hire your VA?
If you are an entrepreneur or is planning to start a business, here are some other articles that may be useful to you:
As an entrepreneur, the help I found on Fiverr and Freelancer.com was essential for a smooth beginning.