It’s that time of year again! You’re feeling guilty about all the chocolates you’ve eaten, all the wine you’ve imbibed to wash down the turkey, and with the forthcoming bottles of champagne you’ll be quaffing on New Year’s Eve your thoughts are turning to that age-old list of New Year’s Resolutions—which you keep on adding to year on year but never quite manage to stick to beyond the first few days of the new year.
Well, if you run a small business or are just starting up, you should be adding ‘hire a virtual assistant’ to that list. 2010 could prove hard-going for start-up businesses unless the current economic slump improves, and the costs involved in hiring full-time staff, renting office space, and buying computer equipment and software could prove the breaking point. By hiring a virtual assistant (also known as a virtual secretary or virtual PA) you cut out most of these costs: you’re not responsible for their tax or NI payments and they provide their own office space and computer equipment. Best of all, you benefit from hiring a skilled professional with a wealth of experience at their finger tips while only needing to pay for the time you utilise these skills.
A virtual assistant can provide most of the secretarial support a small business or sole-trader is likely to require. They can answer your calls, handle your email messages, manage your diary, maintain your spreadsheets, design your Powerpoint presentations, run your social media marketing campaigns, design and build your website…what they can’t do is collect your dry cleaning or fetch the kids from school!
Of course, you need to find the right virtual assistant for you; the one with the specific skills and experience required to undertake the tasks you want to handover to them. Don’t base your final choice on cost alone—pay peanuts, get monkeys, I believe the saying goes. If you want to engage a virtual assistant for long-term support for your business or project, then hire one who knows their worth, one who has experience of working in the ‘real’ world and who knows how important your business is to you.
Any virtual assistant worth their salt will make a real effort to learn about your business services or products and will get to know your clients and suppliers and build a rapport with them. You never know, they may even be able to suggest ICT solutions to improve your business practices and help you to implement them with the least possible disruption. It’s up to you how much or how little you make use of your virtual assistant, but I’m guessing that once you realise how much extra time you have to deal with your own business activities (or to spend time on social activities), you’ll be handing over the kitchen sink, so to speak.
And if you’re a wife/husband/partner who finds themselves complaining about the fact that your loved one is spending far too much time in the spare room building up their new business, you could always give them the nudge…’I was reading an interesting article about virtual assistants on The Freelancealot Herald, it could be just what you need.’
So, what’s my New Year’s Resolution you ask? Well, I’d like to learn Spanish…I’ve bought the CD and the book, now it’s just a matter of finding the time—it’s a shame I can’t hire a virtual assistant to do it for me! 😉
Best wishes for a busy and successful 2010 from Tracy and Andrew at Freelancealot.co.uk.
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