Long gone are the days when it was necessary to carry out every business activity yourself. Some tasks may be simple enough (think sending emails, returning clients’ calls, and data entry); however, they all take time, leaving little for your most important business activities. Plus, spending all those hours every day on administrative tasks can quickly drain your energy and kill your motivation.
Worse, other aspects (perhaps designing graphics or solving technical issues) are difficult unless you have specialist knowledge. Poor quality can result in an unprofessional image for your startup and create roadblocks for you when you’ve barely started. Contracting a specialist virtual assistant for these tasks means you avoid frustrations and create the business image you want — all without the need to hire employees.
The Benefits of Virtual Assistants for EntrepreneursVirtual assistants are a major trend across the business world, but they have some specific benefits for entrepreneurs.
1. Improve ProductivityThe main reason entrepreneurs use VAs is to see higher productivity. Cutting monotonous activities and tasks that require skills you lack from your schedule does more than free up your time. By allowing you to focus fully on your core business work, you’ll find that you’re more creative and motivated, which will lead to greater productivity.
2. Learn Delegation SkillsWhen you start out as an entrepreneur, it’s difficult to hand off even the smallest tasks to someone else. You want to be in complete control to execute your idea just as you envisioned. The problem is that it’s impossible to keep going like this as you progress with your startup. If you’ve ever worked with someone who micromanages, you’ll know that this is no way to run a business.
Delegating is a skill that you’re unlikely to possess unless you held a management position prior to starting your own business. Working with a VA will allow you to learn the basics of delegating, including how detailed to be in your instructions, when to give some leeway, and what tasks to delegate in the first place.
3. Start Scaling Your OperationImproving productivity and developing delegation skills are only the first steps toward scaling your business. You’ll also start seeing opportunities for growth — and be able to embrace them. In fact, there’s no reason why you can’t keep hiring more virtual assistants (especially specialized VAs). They can provide your business with the continued support it needs as it grows, eliminating the need to hire full-time employees.
4. Stop Sacrificing Your Personal LifeRunning a startup does require a number of sacrifices, but your business should never take over your life completely. If you’re barely able to finish all your tasks within your working hours, you’ll have no time for anything else, including your family, a social life, staying fit, and personal goals.
This is an unhealthy way to live your life and no longer the accepted necessity of being an entrepreneur. A virtual assistant will allow you to cut down your working hours to a reasonable number — perhaps just a few more than with a full-time job.
5. See Long-Term SavingsContracting a virtual assistant is like any good investment: you’ll incur costs at the beginning but, long term, you should see cost savings. Of course, when exactly this happens will depend on your startup, including the soundness of your underlying business model.
6. Support at a Moment’s NoticeWhen you have a new business, it’s difficult to know what times of year you’ll be most busy. It’s also probable that you’ll receive new opportunities, such as large, unexpected projects. There’s no need for a virtual assistant to provide ongoing support — you can also hire support just when you need it. It’s often easy to find someone who is available right away and can finish the work in a short timeframe.
7. Uncover IssuesA virtual assistant can help you discover problems you were unaware you even had. If you’ve never run a business before, you may have issues that are not obvious to you but are immediately apparent to an experienced VA. Your virtual assistant can teach you how to streamline processes and eliminate practices that are keeping you behind.
8. Reduce StressRunning your own business should give you pleasure. You left your previous job for a reason — and it wasn’t to end up in a different stressful situation. By reducing your workload, allowing you to provide higher quality services, enhancing your image, and eliminating inefficiencies, a VA will help you reduce stress and enable you to enjoy being an entrepreneur.
How to Take Advantage of Emerging MarketsA major difference between a virtual assistant and a traditional personal assistant is that you never need to be in the same room. Many entrepreneurs never even meet their VAs — and this goes for physical businesses and well as digital ones. A major reason for this is that entrepreneurs often contract virtual assistants who reside outside the country, particularly in emerging markets.
Low Rates from Emerging MarketsVirtual assistants in emerging markets tend to charge less than those in countries like the U.S., Canada, Western Europe, and Australia. It is particularly common for entrepreneurs to hire VAs from the Philippines and India, as the virtual assistants from these countries tend to speak English to a high level.
For administrative tasks, rates start around $3 to $6 an hour, whereas specialized tasks usually cost at least $10 an hour. These low rates allow entrepreneurs with just about any budget to benefit from a VA. Plus, there’s no need to commit to even a part-time schedule. If all you need and can afford is a couple hours a week, you can find a VA to provide this.
Best of all, though, is that there is now a huge number of VAs available in emerging markets. This means you have plenty of choice. You can find someone to provide the exact services you require, who is available for the hours you need, and whose personality and working style suits your own.
Where to Find These VAsYou can find VAs from almost anywhere in the world on freelance platforms, through agencies, and on job sites. Decide where to look by weighing the pros and cons of each option. Whatever you choose, the process of finding a VA will be fast and inexpensive (perhaps even free). Once you’ve contracted a virtual assistant, you’ll just pay for the hours of work you receive — there’s no need to pay for any additional benefits or resources.
What Services Can These VAs Provide?Virtual assistants in emerging markets can provide a full range of services to entrepreneurs. General VAs offer support with things like calendar management, invoices, travel arrangements, and any other administrative task you may have. You may prefer to hire a specialist VA, though, if you want skilled work like social media management or bookkeeping.
However, some tasks are less suited to non-native speakers of English. For instance, if you’d like your virtual assistant to support you with correspondence, proofreading, or transcription, it may be worthwhile hiring a VA from within the country.
Jumping on the Virtual Assistant BandwagonLife is tough for an entrepreneur, especially that first year, when you need to fight every second just to avoid failing. Without a virtual assistant, you’ll be at a disadvantage to your competitors — not to mention, you’ll become exhausted and quite possibly demotivated by the sheer amount of work.
There’s no reason to feel that a VA is out of your reach just because you’re getting started. Choosing a VA from an emerging market and contracting just a few hours at the start is affordable for any entrepreneur — and it could well be the key to your success.