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5 Ways A Virtual Assistant Can Help Your Small Business Grow


Barnaby Lashbrooke

Founder and CEO of Time etc, author of The Hard Work Myth

8 minute read

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In today’s business world, the competition is fierce. And as a small business owner, you already have a lot on your plate. That’s why it’s more important than ever for entrepreneurs to find ways to streamline their operations and focus on the parts of their business that are the most productive.

What is a virtual assistant?

A virtual assistant, or VA, handles the less urgent, often repetitive, but still necessary tasks that would fill your day.

Virtual assistants are usually self-employed and work as individual contractors either directly with their own clients or by teaming up with agencies, on a remote basis.

While the role can be fairly broad, as their professional skills are often highly transferable, it’s common for VAs to specialize in areas such as administrative or executive tasks, social media management, content creation, project management, research, or data entry.

Here are five ways hiring a virtual assistant can help you achieve more in your small business…

1. Focus on what matters most

Time is the most precious resource that anyone has. It is the one thing that we can never get back once it's gone. That’s why it is so important to be mindful of how we spend every moment, especially as business owners. However, this can be much easier said than done when it feels like you have a million things to do on any given day. But the truth is, not all business tasks are created equal.

The Pareto principle–or the 80/20 rule–states that 80% of results come from 20% of actions. In terms of business, one example could be that 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your customers, and vice versa. So if you were to look at your full list of current responsibilities, chances are that around 20% of those tasks result in 80% of the impact you could realistically make each day.

By giving the full force of your time and energy to these “20%” tasks that will take your business further, you’ll make a real difference in your company’s success. And while those “80%” tasks still need to be done, they don’t need to be done by you. With a virtual assistant by your side, you can rest assured that everything gets done.

See: 7 Ways A Virtual Assistant Can Help You Work Smarter

2. A healthier balance

Working for yourself can be both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, you’re in charge of your own destiny and can work whenever and wherever you want. On the other hand, it can be easy to get a little too lost in work, as there’s no one above you to enforce firm start and stop times.

  • 66% of business owners work between 40-60 hours per week, and 19% work more than 60 hours per week.
  • 86% of business owners work on weekends, 53% work on major holidays, and 60% take just one vacation a year. Of those who do take time off, 75% spend that rare leisure time working.
  • According to occupational health experts, being an entrepreneur is one of the most stressful jobs you can have.

When you combine longer working hours, a lack of breaks, and higher stress levels, it’s hardly surprising to hear that 63% of entrepreneurs are currently, or have previously been, affected by burnout. No matter how driven or passionate you are about your business, no one is immune. For example, two years after starting The Huffington Post, founder Arianna Huffington was so burnt out she collapsed from exhaustion, hit her head on her desk, and broke her cheekbone.

The reason why we choose to invest all our time and energy into our business is for it to grow and thrive, and we tell ourselves all our hard work will pay off in the end. But the fact is, even with the best intentions, this mindset could be taking you further away from success rather than closer to it.

When in a burnt-out state, your mental and physical energy levels, passion, motivation, focus, and productivity plummet. Without them, it’s almost impossible to do everything that’s necessary to keep your business ticking over–let alone be able to grow it.

Not only that, but as burnout goes hand-in-hand with prolonged stress, you can expect similar impacts on your mental and physical health. A weakened immune system and an increased risk of anxiety, depression, cardiovascular disease, and more, have all been linked to stress and burnout.

Running a business can be challenging enough when you’re in full health, let alone if you’re sick. You owe it to both yourself and your business to make sure you maintain a healthy balance that allows you to stay on top form and be the best version of yourself every day.

This is where a virtual assistant comes in. Offloading the regular time-consuming tasks from your workload allows you to do more in less time and with less stress. You’ll make faster progress towards your goals without needing to burn the candle at both ends ever again.

3. Keep costs low

It goes without saying that to run a lasting, profitable venture, you need to keep your overhead costs low.

Many small business owners find it difficult to justify the expense of hiring an extra set of hands, especially when they don’t need that much support. And they’re not wrong. If you're hiring someone for eight hours a day, that's a significant chunk of your budget that you'll need to consider.

This financial element is another reason why entrepreneurs choose to keep doing everything themselves, but this is not sustainable. As we’ve learned about the effects of burnout, working longer hours to keep up with your never-ending to-do list is a recipe for disaster.

So when you compare the hourly rates of a virtual assistant for small business and a full-time employee, you might be wondering how a VA is actually the more cost-effective option when their rates are higher ($36 versus $31, for example). At first glance, it seems like you’d pay less for a regular employee, but the difference is that you only pay for a VA’s productive time completing your tasks, as little or as much as you need.

If we take figures from recent research as an example–that the average full-time employee is productive for 2 hours and 58 minutes each day–what could set you back $232.50 to pay a full-time employee would only cost you $106.92 for the same amount of productive time with a virtual assistant.

And it’s not just salary costs you save on. When you include the costs of recruitment, employee benefits, office supplies, and equipment, hiring a virtual assistant could be up to 90% cheaper than a full-time employee. The money you save can then be reinvested into other areas of your business, which could provide many more opportunities for growth.

4. Cover all bases

It is natural to want your business to be the best that it can be, which is why some entrepreneurs feel reluctant to delegate tasks to others, as there is no guarantee that someone else would do them in exactly the same way as they would. But where some people see this as a negative, others see it as an opportunity.

For example, you may be an expert salesperson, an impeccable strategist, or a social media master, but the chances are that you won’t be all three at once.

So instead of trying to be a Jack of all trades, offloading tasks that you don't excel at has considerable benefits. You personally can make a significantly greater impact when you have more time to dedicate to your strengths. And when it comes to the areas where you’re not so strong, handing these tasks over to someone who is more skilled or knowledgeable in that particular area is likely to lead to higher quality and better results than if you’d done them yourself.

And the good news is that the internet and remote working have opened up a world of opportunities when it comes to finding such people. When recruiting for a full-time, in-house position, you’re usually limited to applicants that are available within a commutable distance from your business. And depending on your location or industry, this may shrink your available talent pool even further.

Working with a VA, however, means that these limits don’t apply. As a result, you have access to a vast pool of available talent. And of course, more choice means you’ll be much more likely to find an assistant that’s a great fit for your needs.

5. Greater flexibility

The needs and demands of a business can change considerably month-on-month and year-on-year, especially during periods of growth. This is another reason why many small business owners opt to hire VAs, as their service is much more flexible compared to a full-time, in-house assistant.

Using a fully-managed service, a virtual assistant’s work is usually provided through monthly packages or subscriptions based on the amount of support you need. And most business owners appreciate the ability to scale up or down as necessary.

Initially, you may hire a VA for a specific purpose, like scheduling and email management. But if you reach the point where you need to offload other specialized tasks (invoicing, for example) to reclaim more time, you can add additional assistants to your team at no extra cost.

At larger companies, employees taking time off work is no big deal. Coworkers can cover for each other until the person comes back, and typically everything runs smoothly. However, for more fledgling companies or businesses with smaller teams, this isn’t always the case. Even a few days without cover could have a big impact.

But with services like Time etc, you’ll never have to worry about this again. If your virtual assistant takes a vacation, our team will arrange for another suitable assistant to fill in for them during their absence. Your tasks are always covered and nothing will fall behind.

See: Virtual Assistant Vs. Personal Assistant: The Best Support for Business Owners

What’s the bottom line?

As a busy entrepreneur, you are always searching for ways to make your business run more smoothly and successfully. One way to do that is by taking advantage of virtual assistants. By offloading some of the work that you would normally have to do yourself, you can free up more of your time, energy, and budget to focus on growth.

If you’re ready to start doing more, achieving more, and earning more in your business, Time etc is here for you. We are dedicated to helping hardworking and ambitious entrepreneurs take back control over their days by providing the best virtual assistants for their businesses.

Speak to our expert team to get started or try a skilled virtual assistant for free today.

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About the author

Barnaby Lashbrooke is the founder and CEO of Virtual Assistant service Time etc as well as the author of The Hard Work Myth, recently recommended by Sir Richard Branson. Barnaby is a Forbes Columnist on productivity and is also an accomplished entrepreneur, selling more than $35 million worth of services.

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