Virtual Assistants – A Low Cost Solution to Office Administration

If you are a new business startup or a small business with big plans, it is sometimes hard to find enough hours in the day to fit in all of your administrative tasks that can’t wait – replying to emails, answering the telephone, dealing with post or chasing un-paid invoices. On a day to day basis you can spend a lot of your time on these smaller tasks, leaving little time to do what you do best – sell or promote the product or service that your business provides. As your business starts to grow, your administrative tasks can grow too – and this is where you begin to think you need someone to take over these office tasks. You might think you need to hire a secretary or a PA so that you can manage your workload, delegate tasks or just to get more organised! If you decide to take this route, you have to remember the cost and logistics of hiring a person to do this for you. This is where the services of a Virtual Assistant (VA) can prove to be very useful.

A Virtual Assistant is an entrepreneur who can provide professional administrative assistance from their own premises, usually on a daily or monthly basis (or in some cases just as often as you require). They usually charge by the hour or per task. This gives you much more freedom and means your time can be focused on your business without the worry of administrative tasks not being completed. They can also cover much more than just administration – if you need technical or creative help, Virtual Assistants can provide this too.

If you run your business from home or have limited office space, then it would be a good idea to hire a Virtual Assistant instead of a secretary or PA, as a Virtual Assistant takes up none of your space. They don’t need to come to your home or office – they don’t even need to live in the same town or city, as everything they need to do can be done via email, telephone, fax, post or web-based tools such as instant messengers, online calendars and planners.

When it comes to cost, a Virtual Assistant will prove to be much more efficient than hiring a salary-based secretary or PA. When you hire an employee, you have to consider the equipment and supplies they will need to work with, as well as taking into account things like insurance, sick pay, holiday pay and maternity leave. Quite often, the employee will seek out and expect some kind of benefit package as well. All of this on top of their annual salary can be quite a hefty sum of money each year, which is why hiring a Virtual Assistant can be more profitable for a small or new business. A Virtual Assistant will not need you to supply any equipment as they will already have their own, and they also cannot hold you accountable for sick pay, holiday or any other employee benefits. As you can imagine, this already makes the savings quite large.

Your Virtual Assistant would of course be self-employed, and therefore would only charge you by invoice on the work and tasks they have completed. This is another advantage of Virtual Assistants – you pay them only for what they do rather than for a set amount of time each day, which you would do if you hired a secretary or PA. With a Virtual Assistant, you can enjoy great flexibility in terms of when you need their help and how long you need their help for.
Finding a Virtual Assistant is quite simple. The UK Association of Virtual Assistants lists working VAs in your area and their qualifications. There are a vast array of Virtual Assistants available, with experience and specialised knowledge in many different business areas – some may have legal secretarial skills, while others may be able to offer website design, PR or marketing. They are available with skills in and knowledge of computer software, as well as basic word processing, email use and telephone answering. It is important to decide what kind of help you need and to do your research before you look for a Virtual Assistant – this will ensure you find the right person for the job.

Hiring a Virtual Assistant for much-needed help not only keeps your business overheads down, it also saves you the hassle and cost of organising things like tax and monthly pay slips – because they are self-employed they will complete their own tax returns and do not need a pay slip. You will also increase your own profitability, as you will find yourself with more time to focus on growing your business and completing more revenue-producing tasks. Also, having a Virtual Assistant can lend ‘size’ to your company and can impress prospective new clients without you having to actually have a new employee in your working space.

In short, a Virtual Assistant can reduce your outgoings and possibly also help increase your income, which is why they provide an ideal solution for small or new businesses who need assistance with administrative, technical or creative work.

This article is provided courtesy of the Office Supplies Supermarket.

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