As a small business owner, time and money are your two biggest commodities. Now that the pandemic is (hopefully) winding down, you may be able to save on both by hiring a virtual assistant.
A virtual assistant is typically a contracted employee that works remotely and can perform a variety of mundane tasks, thus freeing you up to focus on the core job of running your business. As more workers want to work remotely nowadays, all you really need to manage a virtual assistant is a phone, computer and an account with Zoom or other video conferencing software. There are also companies such as Belay and Virtual Assistant Assistant that specialize in finding a virtual assistant for you.
Virtual assistants can be hired for almost any type of role, such as:
- Administrative work
- HR functions
- IT support
- Data Entry/spreadsheet management
- SEO services for your website
- Manage accounting/payroll
- Social media marketing
There is practically no downside to hiring a virtual assistant, and now may be a good time to hire one as businesses bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic and remote work seems to be the new normal. Roughly 10 million Americans who don’t want to go back to an office have turned to freelance work during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a survey from Upwork, so there are plenty of candidates out there for you to choose from.
Reduce Labor Costs
Let’s face it – hiring a full-time employee is time-consuming and expensive, especially for small businesses. When you do hire a full-time employee you have to spend time and resources on the onboarding process; you’re on the hook for payroll taxes; medical/dental insurance; granting PTO/sick days and vacation days, and in some cases, offering them a matching 401(k) retirement plan.
A virtual assistant, on the other hand, is an independent contractor and typically is what the IRS refers to as a 1099 employee, so they would be responsible for their own expenses and taxes. Also, as we are in the midst of “The Great Resignation,” finding a full-time, qualified employee who is willing to come to your office for 8-hours a day has become an increasingly difficult task. A virtual assistant would work for pre-agreed upon hours and perform tasks that you specify.
A virtual assistant may be even more productive than a nine-to-fiver because they are only focused on the tasks that you assign to them and can work on their own time without the distractions of an office environment or experiencing the daily doldrums of 8-hour day.
In fact, according to career advice site Zippia, the average American office worker only performs about 4 hours and 12 minutes of actual work in a given 8-hour workday. So, if you want to avoid having full-time employees spending half the day at the water cooler, surfing the web, or taking smoke breaks, and you want to avoid hiring the main character from the famous comedy “Office Space,” then hiring a virtual assistant may be your best bet since they would only work on the job for your company on their time.
Increased Flexibility, Better Work Quality
A virtual assistant would not be saddled with the obligation of showing up for a 9-5 workday, rather, they would work around your schedule. Hiring a virtual assistant in a different time zone may even work to your advantage because such a worker could be working during off-hours for you.
Also, as a business owner, consider how much time you currently spend during the day checking emails, answering phone calls, managing your website, social media marketing or blogging about your industry? Those mundane tasks can be handled by a qualified virtual assistant and free you up for more important tasks such as speaking to your customers and managing sales.
Expansion Plans Made Easier?
If your small business has grown to the point where you are debating whether to expand with more employees, then hiring virtual assistants may give you a way to expand without the operational risks of taking on new, full-time employees.
After all, the hiring and onboarding processes are long, expensive, and require a large amount of resources. If you hire full-time employees and the situation doesn’t pan out and you have to terminate their employment quickly – or if they quit soon after you hire them – then a good amount of your time and energy will have been wasted.
If you hire a virtual assistant and they don’t turn out to be the employee you expected, then all you need to do is end the contract.
How Do You Hire One?
The process of hiring a virtual assistant would be the same as hiring any other employee. You would need to advertise the job specifications on employment websites such as Indeed or Glassdoor, or you can advertise the job on social media sites such as LinkedIn. As more workers want to work remotely nowadays, all you really need to manage a virtual assistant is a phone, computer and an account with Zoom or other video conferencing software.
In all, hiring a virtual assistant can bring you endless benefits, free up your time and save you money. Carefully weigh the pros and cons of hiring one before you do.