Updated: Aug 4
Hard work is essential to the success of every small business, especially in the early stages. Entrepreneurs work countless hours and learn whatever skills they need to en route to becoming successful small business owners. Unfortunately, hard work can only take you so far; there are only so many hours in the day and only so much energy to burn. The key to growth is working smart in addition to working hard.
Eventually, as your small business and brand expand, your team will need to expand as well. But this is easier said than done as many small business owners can not afford to pay a staff in addition to the money they must continue to pump into the business on things like goods, services, and advertising. Fortunately, there is a way to expand your team without breaking the bank, and that is through the use of virtual assistants.
Virtual assistants are trained professionals that can take on all kinds of tasks that your brand performs on a day-to-day basis. These workers can be hired at a fraction of the cost of standard employees as well. This guide will cover everything you need to know about virtual assistants and how they can propel your brand to the next level.
What Is a Virtual Assistant?
A virtual assistant is an independent worker who can be hired to perform any number of administrative tasks. Virtual assistants work remotely, either through an agency or as independent freelancers.
Rates and qualifications among virtual assistants vary greatly. VAs that work outside of the United States can be hired at much lower rates than those in the US (salaries can range from $250-600/month. Depending on the services that you require, you can hire a virtual assistant at an hourly rate, or at a fixed rate based on a specific project or amount of time.
The Benefits to Hiring a Virtual Assistant
There are a number of great benefits that entrepreneurs running a business on Amazon can enjoy through hiring a virtual assistant. Here are just a handful:
Outsourcing Time-Consuming Tasks - There are many tasks that small business owners do throughout the day that eventually end up taking up a lot more time than you’d expect. Think about email, for example. How many times a day do you check your email? How many emails do you have to stop what you are doing to answer? How many do you put off for later to deal with at the end of a long day? Now imagine having your business emails go through a virtual assistant. One that could screen spam emails, respond to emails with simple questions, and only forward you emails that actually required your immediate attention? This may sound too good to be true, but outsourcing tasks like these and many more is possible with the help of VAs. And with your time freed up from these types of tasks, you will have more time to actually dedicate to innovating and growing your brand.
Cost Efficiency - Most off-shore virtual assistants are willing to work for far below the American minimum wage. And just because they are located in other countries doesn’t mean they can’t speak English; many workers in this space are fluent in multiple languages. Even those that don’t speak English can still be trained to do what you need them to through the help of tools like Google Translate. Best of all, regardless of how much you pay your virtual assistant, you can pay for exactly what you need. Unlike salaried workers who tend to get paid the same every day regardless of the work they put in, virtual assistants can be hired for very specific tasks or blocks of time. Whether you need a full-time assistant or just an hour of help a week, you can find a VA that fits the bill.
Wide Range of Skills Available - Small Biz Trends compiled a list of 47 tasks that virtual assistants can perform. These ideas are just scratching the surface as VAs are available all around the world in so many different capacities that virtually any task you can think of is one that you could outsource. Virtual assistants can help you with accounting, networking, schedule management, operations, sourcing products, and even personal errands. In some cases, you can find one virtual assistant that is able to complete all of the tasks you require on a full-time basis. But VAs are so affordable that if you can’t find just one that fits the bill or you need a very wide array of tasks covered, you can hire two or more to cover specific things. You have the power to build the team that you need.
Ability to Work Non-Peak Hours - Some virtual assistants that work around the world in countries like India adjust their sleeping schedules to sync up with their clients in the United States. Others, however, stay on their own schedule, which happens to be outside of the standard 9-5 hours that America’s workforce functions on. Need around-the-clock coverage to monitor your Amazon listings or to respond to emails from customers? A virtual assistant on the other side of the world could be a perfect fit for this task.
Gaining a Different Perspective
The best entrepreneurs are those that listen to feedback and are always willing to learn and gain new perspectives. No virtual assistant is going to be able to run your business as well as you can. But perhaps your assistant will occasionally be able to offer an alternative solution to a problem or some feedback on your products coming from a totally fresh perspective. Working with people from different cultures and mindsets can do wonders for your own thought processes.
Speaking From Experience
When I talk about the benefits of virtual assistants, I’m not just talking about them hypothetically. I started using one in 2016 and can’t emphasize enough how big of an impact it made on my business. With many of the more mundane tasks of my business like customer service and logistics no longer bogging me down, I was able to focus on inventory planning, product innovation and new product launches.
As a small business owner, it’s great to have a strong work ethic and a take-on-the-world attitude. But sometimes we can get in our own way and try to take too much on by ourselves. Consider utilizing the help of virtual assistants to take some of the work off of your plate to free up your mind and energy for more useful endeavors.