This is a guest post by Chris Ducker, well-known entrepreneur, author and blogger. I've been following his advice on leveraging virtual teams and building business for quite a time and I'm proud to have him on as a guest author. Take it away Chris...
Few people are aware of the true benefits of hiring a Virtual Assistant. The time and energy saved when you draft a plan of what is taking up the most time in your day and begin to outsource, is incomprehensible to those who have not done it. Yet for those who have taken the leap and hired a virtual assistant, it is unimaginable go back to not having one. Whether you are running a large company or going at it as a solopreneur, you need to be outsourcing and handing over the mundane, repetitive and boring tasks involved in the operations of your business.
In business, you have to be very conscious of expenses and do your best with the resources available. Finances must be properly managed and all overhead costs accounted for. In circumstances where a business wants to keep expenses low, they will often look overseas for new workers to countries like the Philippines and India.
The types of services offered by virtual assistants is broad and varied to say the least. They will mostly handle administrative tasks such as data entry and email, but with proper training, can be given more responsibility and duties. Most have specialty services which they can offer depending upon their experience and skills. Many are proficient in WordPress and have good social media skills due to the large demand for this knowledge. The variety of services offered by a VA are endless and will make the life of any business owner much easier by helping to operate the business more efficiently and smoothly.
The benefit of contracting the services of a VA is that they work from their own office where they can communicate with your clients via email, telephone, fax, mail, courier, and even SMS nowadays. Because they work from their own office, they have their own equipment and supplies to perform the tasks at hand. Apart from software which you may need them to use, all other equipment is their own. You do not need to pay for a computer, internet, electricity, canteen, office supplies, and they will look after their own needs regarding benefits and taxes. You do not have to provide them with any of these resources, although if you hire for the long term you may consider including health benefits.
Payment is for work done is at the rate which was agreed upon in advance. Your VA will invoice the client (you) for compensation. If working with Elance, you may have to fund Escrow before the person starts work, to prove that you are going to pay. Escrow works as a holding agent, where the employee can see that the money is waiting to be released. This makes for a simple and easy work situation for both parties involved. The majority of assistants prefer to be payed via Paypal as this is linked directly to their bank accounts and has the least fees. International bank transfers are expensive, especially when you include currency exchanges.
If you hire a long term team member it is best to have them work outside of Elance, as you can pay them the extra that is being taken as a commission. The reduced costs involved in hiring virtual staff is evident, and this is why all successful entrepreneurs use a VA.
Running a small business requires patience, organization, and good people skills. We have all heard the phrase “There aren’t enough hours in the day”. For a small business, or even a large one, this could refer to not having enough time to handle all the emails, follow up with a clients or keep on top of orders.
If those things were to beginning to pile up, relationships with clients can deteriorate and your business would diminish. If you had some help in those areas, you could be more productive and turn your attention to other matters like seeking new clients, maintaining relationships and spending time with your family instead of working 12-hours a day.
You can only go so far on your own, every successful business owner will tell you this! It is essential to every company or individual who wants to become more productive to hire more staff. Even if it is on a part time basis, the vast majority of entrepreneurs will have someone who helps them run their business. Overworking and spending time on easily managed tasks is not an effective way to do business nowadays. With all the resources available thanks to the internet, there has never been a better time to give yourself some virtual freedom and outsource some aspects of your business.
Being an entrepreneur is an inspiring way to live your life. Taking chances and building businesses is much more enjoyable than just letting life pass you by. But on the road to success, eventually the amount of work involved will catch up. You will not always have the time nor skills required to do all that needs to be done. If your business’s under-staffing issues are causing lapses in high quality customer service, it’s time to start thinking about hiring new people. The smooth and efficient functionality of your business will come down to the team who runs it. Don’t be afraid of advancement and come up with a list of tasks you could outsource to a virtual assistant today.
About the Author:
Chris Ducker is a successful entrepreneur, blogger, and podcaster known for his thought leadership about building businesses and lifestyles that thrive with virtual teams. His highly-anticipated book—Virtual Freedom: How to Work with Virtual Staff to Buy More Time, Become More Productive, and Build Your Dream Business is available for order now.