The Global Rise of the Virtual Assistant: 4 Reasons to Hire One
The average small business owner can find it hard to manage operations; between managing clients and employees and following up on contracts, he/she barely has time to breathe, let alone grow. Everyone around urges to “get an assistant,” but a full-time dedicated assistant isn’t always in the cards. A virtual one can be.
More and more global businesses, specifically in the U.S., are relying on virtual employee assistants to manage their business. This trend goes hand in hand with the rise of assistants around the world.
In fact, the Philippines has been making great strides in the virtual assistance industry, where there’s high demand. Since 2003, the Filipino outsourcing industry has maintained its impressive 20% annual growth rate due to the fact that Filipinos have a high level of English, literacy rate and cultural fit.
Also, India is becoming a driving force in the world of virtual assistants, mainly in voice-enabled products. It’s already expected that virtual assistants will eventually cater to over half a billion people in India.
Let’s better understand the impact of hiring a virtual assistant can have on your business and the top four reasons to hire one.
What is a Virtual Assistant?
As the name implies, virtual assistants (VA’s) provide remote support to businesses and business owners. In theory, a virtual assistant can do anything the business needs (aside from getting coffee).
Some virtual assistants work in marketing, design, social media management and more, and others specialize in a particular industry, providing ongoing support to businesses in their selected niche. In fact, industries such as insurance and financial services are showing strong interest in VA’s.
According to a study by Gartner, 25% of digital workers will use virtual employee assistants daily by 2021. For example, Amazon’s Alexa for Business helps employees delegate tasks such as scheduling meetings and performing logistics operations. In addition, virtual assistants are available on service marketplaces such as UpWork, eLance, PeoplePerHour and more, while many others have independent websites.
Why You Should Hire a Virtual Assistant
If you’re a small business owner or freelancer with a growing client list, hiring a virtual assistant could help accelerate business growth and streamline operations. While the business owner or in-house employee can perform many of the tasks assigned to VA’s, doing so wastes time and energy that could be used to fulfilling client requests and generating further revenue.
Virtual assistants are an excellent solution for SMB’s that have essential but time-consuming tasks that must be done such as bookkeeping, invoicing, conference/travel arrangements, etc.
VA’s can help your business in the following ways:
In recent years, more employees have started working remotely not just because they like working in pajamas, but because it is beneficial to the companies themselves. Studies have shown that remote employees are more productive and have less turnover.
Virtual assistants have fewer distractions and more flexibility, giving them the freedom to adapt their schedules to suit a business’s needs and don’t need to worry about long daily commutes. Small businesses looking to maximize efficiency from an assistant would, therefore, be wise to have a remote one creating a win-win for the assistant and company alike.
Save Time and Money
Companies that hire virtual assistants enjoy reduced operational costs. Virtual assistants bill for hours worked, making it cost-effective. They also require minimal training time, and since they are not in the office, they do not need additional space, food, electricity, etc. A Harvard Business Review study revealed that companies, on average, saved over $1900 per employee over nine months when they were based remotely.
In addition, many operate as freelancers and send a monthly or bi-monthly invoice. As a result, companies that hire them are not responsible for benefits, vacation days, taxes, etc. This helps further reduce the time and money spent on managing an additional employee.
Virtual assistants can be used to alleviate the daily stress of managing a business – specifically when it comes to clerical and other time-consuming tasks. Having an employee perform such duties or doing them yourself as a business owner is not an efficient use of time.
A virtual assistant skilled in such tasks will not get overwhelmed by them and will let business owners and employees focus on growing the business. This will make the workflow seamless and help keep anxiety and stress at bay, creating a positive working environment for all.
Better Work-Life Balance
Many business owners find it hard to maintain a positive work-life balance due to the demands of work and daily life. One particular trouble that many have is the desire to be available 24/7 for clients. This causes many to work late, take calls and answer emails at all hours of the day, severely impacting their personal lives. Since VA’s can work from anywhere, having one in a different time zone can increase availability to clients.
Virtual assistants can reduce the overall workload and let business owners and employees maximize their time more efficiently. Doing so creates a more enjoyable work environment which in turn positively impacts everyone.
How To Hire a Virtual Assistant
Like any other role, outsourcing the virtual assistant function is one that may take time; however, once the search is complete and the right hire is part of your company, you will wonder how you ever managed your business without them!
When hiring, be sure to outline the specific tasks you want them to help you complete. This makes it easier to understand if you want a general VA, industry-specific or one that is skilled in particular tasks. Having a list of the expected tasks will also help align expectations with potential VA’s and ensure you get the additional help precisely where you need it.
Service marketplaces are a great place to find potential virtual assistants; the benefit of such marketplaces is that payment is often managed through a third party such as Payoneer, which ensures that their being paid correctly. If you’re using a virtual assistant in a different country, be sure to choose a payment solution that will enable them to receive funds in their local currency. This helps build a positive work relationship with them – the key to growing your business.