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Are Virtual Assistants Really Worth It For Entrepreneurs?


Barnaby Lashbrooke

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

7 minute read

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As a business owner, it’s your responsibility to keep up with the latest and greatest tools available to improve processes, solve problems, and boost your bottom line. So the chances are you have heard about the rising prominence of one such resource: virtual assistants. However, working with a virtual assistant is something that many people still don’t fully understand. Just how valuable are they? Should you believe the hype?

We’re here to help separate the fact from the fiction…

What Can Virtual Assistants Do?

A virtual assistant, or VA, provides administrative, technical, or creative assistance to clients remotely from a home office.

Virtual assistants typically have specialist experience in at least one business area, and their services include administrative and executive assistance, scheduling, customer service, data entry, marketing support, and research, to name but a few.

By outsourcing tasks that are not your core competency or the best use of your time, you’re free to focus on what you do best.

True or False?

It’s Quicker To Do Things Yourself

While it may be true that it would take you, personally, less time to do particular tasks within your business because you’ve got X amount of insider know-how and experience behind you, the real question is, should you be doing these tasks at all?

If you’ve grown your business from the ground up and know it like the back of your hand, a task that would take you an hour could take longer for a newcomer that’s getting to grips with your business’s processes. With that in mind, it’s tempting to think that you shouldn’t outsource the task if you can do it faster, but that’s not the point. The truth is, even an hour spent working on the wrong tasks is an hour wasted. The same goes for tasks that only take 20 or 30 minutes, it all adds up.

Professional virtual assistants understand the importance of completing tasks efficiently. While it may take a little longer in the early days while they’re still getting used to your tasks and your processes, they’ll soon be handling your tasks like a pro.

VAs Improve Your Productivity

True: If you're an entrepreneur, chances are you wear many hats. While there is nothing wrong with being highly involved or hands-on with your business, there runs a high risk of taking on more tasks than you could ever handle alone, willingly or not. It’s hard to do your best work when you’re spread so thinly, and jumping from one “hat” means you’ll often be faced with different distractions that can deter you from your core work.

For many business owners, virtual assistants are their “stay-at-home superheroes”, handling the duties that suck up their time and prevent them from working on the tasks they're truly passionate and knowledgeable about.

Virtual Assistants Help Restore Your Work/Life Balance

True: Contrary to popular belief, you don't have to sacrifice your personal or social life in order to be a successful entrepreneur.

With a virtual assistant on your side, you're not just getting extra help with your business — you're giving yourself more time to pursue personal interests and spend with your family.

All VAs Are The Same

False: If you’ve ever thought a virtual assistant wasn’t for you because VAs only provide admin support, think again! Each individual assistant has their own unique specializations from their previous professional experience (a minimum of five-eight years in a professional role for all assistants at Time etc) and with that comes an ever-expanding range of tasks they can manage on your behalf.

However, not all VAs are equipped with the same level of skills, experience, and dedication. Hence, it is crucial to do your due diligence when selecting an assistant.

See: Virtual Assistant Vs. Freelancer: The Best Ways To Outsource

Are Virtual Assistants in Demand?

Although virtual assistants are not a new concept, their popularity has boomed in recent years.

As many assistants don’t belong to a particular organization it is difficult for experts to estimate the true size of the VA sector, however, it makes up part of the outsourced service industry which is projected to grow 4.5% between 2020 and 2025 as a result of increased demand. According to a recent trends report, 80% of large corporations are planning to substantially increase their use of contingent workers such as remote freelancers.

Are Virtual Assistants Safe?

Any new decision, business or otherwise, can carry a level of risk, and the choice to bring in a team member you’ll likely never meet face-to-face could feel like an even bigger risk to some.

The good news is, using a reputable virtual assistant service can mitigate these risks. If you are worried about the quality of work, premium fully-managed services like Time etc have a rigorous selection process when it comes to the assistants they bring onboard, so you can be sure any VA you work with meets their high standards of experience, skills, and professionalism. If security is your concern, hiring a VA through Time etc means you benefit from a rock-solid confidentiality agreement and strong data protection measures. Another way that a reputable virtual assistant service can give you peace of mind is that if you run into any problems or your experience is less than satisfactory, your account manager or provider will be more than happy to step in and resolve any issues, saving you the time and trouble.

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Virtual Assistant?

One of the biggest barriers that stops entrepreneurs from getting free from constantly working overtime and endless to-do lists filled with low-impact tasks is that they can’t justify such an expense when they don’t need that much support. And they’re right! Hiring someone to work for you for eight hours a day can significantly affect your overhead costs, especially if you’re just getting started. It’s why the founder’s assistant is often the last full-time role hired, even though it’s one of the most important.

Rates for virtual assistants tend to vary based on their location and skills. If you look overseas, you could expect to find virtual assistants for $3-$10 per hour. Qualified virtual assistants in the more expensive labor markets like Northern America and Western Europe tend to cost $15-35 per hour more.

While it is true that in the markets closer to home, virtual assistants’ hourly rates may be higher than a full-time employee ($29 versus $22, for example), it is important to bear in mind that you only pay for a VA’s productive time completing your tasks, as little or as often as you need, which usually works out as a much more cost-effective solution. Research suggests that the average full-time employee is only productive for 2 hours and 58 minutes out of their day, so using this as an example, what would set you back $176 to pay a full-time employee would only cost you $80.19 for the same amount of productive time with a virtual assistant.

When you add up the costs of recruitment, a full-time salary for an experienced candidate, and any other employee benefits, the money you save by hiring a VA could be as much as 90%. And because virtual assistants work from their home office, you don't have to worry about the additional costs associated with hiring in-house staff, such as office supplies and equipment.

What’s The Bottom Line?

Many businesses today, especially small and mid-sized ones, would struggle to survive without outsourcing at least a part of their work. For those who run them, the weight of so many different responsibilities and trying to keep so many balls in the air can be overwhelming, to say the least. But delegating certain tasks can help them put more time and energy back into what really matters, as well as significantly reducing the pressure and stress in their daily lives.

With this in mind, virtual assistants can be an excellent investment. But not just any virtual assistant. To get the most out of your experience and ensure the highest chances of success, it’s essential to do your research and find the best-fit virtual assistant for your needs.

At Time etc, our service was designed with hardworking and ambitious entrepreneurs in mind. Our mission is to help entrepreneurs do more, achieve more, and earn more by matching them with the best assistants.

We have a wide range of experienced assistants to tackle those tedious and time-consuming tasks that are holding you back. Your assistant will be hand-selected by our expert team to meet your unique requirements. We’re so sure you’ll be delighted with your new assistant, we offer a complete lifetime satisfaction guarantee. Try a virtual assistant for free or speak to our team to discuss a plan that’s perfect for you.

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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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