Is a Virtual Assistant Right for Your Small Business?
Virtual assistants can be a great solution to ease your workload but it’s not a fit for all. Find out if hiring a virtual assistant makes sense for your small business.Small business owners and contractors often have too many tasks and not enough time–but hiring full-time staff isn’t always a great option for those with limited budgets or home offices. Virtual assistants have become a great middle ground for those who need an extra hand here and there with a wide range of administrative and operational tasks, from online research to SEO to travel assistance. Is a virtual assistant right for you and your business? Here are some pros and cons to help you decide.
- Cost efficiency: While pay structures vary, you generally only pay for a virtual assistant when you need them. This means you can budget for a little extra help during peak seasons or during a one-off major project, without the long-term budget commitment of a new hire. And because they are independent contractors equipped with their own office equipment and software, you don’t have to fool with complicated on-boarding paperwork, extra office supplies or associated tax responsibilities.
- Convenience: While most employees work on a set schedule, virtual assistants are available anytime, anywhere. Utilize them for a half-hour or a full day–you can schedule in advance or hire one on-demand when surprise tasks rear their ugly, urgent heads. Plus, since virtual assistants work remotely, there’s no one invading a home office or cramped co-working space.
- Productivity: Those hours you spend on mundane, everyday tasks (say, confirming your travel reservations for an upcoming business trip, researching a trend or company for an upcoming presentation, or data entry into a spreadsheet) add up. A virtual assistant can help you focus on those skills- and relationship-focused tasks that only you can do, without letting the necessary support tasks and details slide.
- Language Barriers: While many US-based businesses are initially drawn to the substantially lower rates of a foreign-based virtual assistance agency, some find that language and/or time difference barriers can complicate tasks, especially those that are urgent or require a nuanced understanding of English (or another primary language).
- Quality control: While a virtual assistant will try their best to understand and execute your task, they aren’t deeply trained in the needs, culture or best practices of your brand or business. This can sometimes result in tasks that aren’t fulfilled in exactly the manner you would expect from your team. In other words, they aren’t an apples to apples equivalent of an employee with a highly specialized background and skills, trained to understand and solve your specific business needs.
- Time management: While virtual assistants are designed to save time, they do require some oversight. Someone must assign and explain the task, manage the virtual assistant budget (to make sure you’re not overspending or underutilizing), keep tabs on all open tasks, and answer questions and communications from assistants as they arise. While virtual assistants will generally save you time in the long run, it may require slightly more time up front to find an assistant or agency right for your needs and set up the tasks.