You’ve reached the point where you need help. Your inbox, your meetings – your schedule in general are all beginning to tear at the seams. You’ve simply got to get something to give right? You might have been thinking about hiring help but feel concerned about the cost of a virtual assistant.
Working all hours to try to get ahead is often the exact opposite of what you actually need to do in order to achieve business success. Yet it’s a trap that many people fall into.
It’s not working more hours that will help you find success but working more effectively.
Working more effectively is the key to saving yourself time and stress and ultimately making your business more successful.
Why hire a virtual assistant?
A virtual assistant is the next sensible move if you’re going to grow and scale your business in a way that doesn’t mean burning the candle at both ends or doing a lot of work poorly. The issue for many people who feel they need a virtual assistant though, is that niggling concern about cost.
There’s a lot of uncertainty about what it might cost to hire in some help. Many people worry that the cost will be too variable or that virtual assistants might bill them with unexpectedly large amounts. The reality is that your virtual assistant will log hours so you know how long things take and not only that, but you can set hours- you can work in the way that’s best for you and your budget.
Cost doesn’t actually matter
It really doesn’t. Because hiring a virtual assistant can, at the end of the day, actually make you money. The hours you’re currently spending on admin, sales, website management, event management, taxes and bills can all be recouped and you can then focus on what really matters – which at the end of the day is running your business.
Running a business, even a small one takes many hours and the wearing of many hats. We all know this and delegation is the key.
If you sat down right now and wrote a list of all the administrative tasks you complete in one week, you might be surprised at how many hours are eaten up in this way. Hours that you could put to better use.
Back to the question of how much does a virtual assistant cost – because many people are probably thinking “Yes, I spend hours on admin but I don’t know anything about virtual assistant rates!”
Well you’d be surprised. For virtual assistant services, you can pay anything from a dollar an hour to a hundred dollars an hour. It depends on the services you need your virtual assistant to provide and of course, which country they’re based in. Prices do vary from country to country. Thanks to the freedoms we enjoy because of today’s technology, you’ve got a huge choice of virtual assistants from all over the world.
Benefits of a virtual assistant
Virtual assistants are a brilliant help for small business owners, sole traders and entrepreneurs in need of professional support. Here are some of the reasons why it makes sense to invest.
- Cheaper than taking on part-time staff
- Some can help with trickier things such as event management and technical projects
- You can claw back hours of time every week so you can concentrate on more important matters
- Your stress levels will drop
- Two heads are better than one, if you’re a sole trader you’ll have someone to bounce ideas and thoughts off.
Signs you need help
You might be a bit of a Jack of all trades but there comes a point when you find you’re stretching yourself too far. Watch out for the warning signs.
- You’ve got a tonne of tasks you have to do every week and they’re always the same. Repetitive jobs can usually be farmed out.
- You could do these tasks with your eyes closed. That’s a good sign you know them well enough to pass them on.
- You know you don’t want full time assistance – yet. Whether it’s a matter of budget or available work, you’re not at that point yet but you’re finding things are getting on top of you.
- Your daily working hours are becoming longer and longer.
Listen to the warning signs, don’t lose control by the very act of trying to keep control.
Estimating the cost of a VA
Getting to the nub of what a virtual assistant will cost is simple if you break it down. Much depends on the sort of services a virtual assistant offers. Here are the key factors.
- Where the virtual assistant is based
- What they specialize in
- How experienced they are
- How much work you need them to undertake
Let’s break that down.
What are the skills on offer?
Do you need someone to organize your business reports or someone to undertake data entry? Cheap virtual assistants do exist – it’s probably better not to think of them as “cheap” but as affordable.
If you’re looking for a virtual assistant to do simple data entry or make phone calls, then you’ll probably be paying in the region of $10 per hour which is pretty affordable!
If you need help with more skilled tasks such as event or social media management, then the cost will rise.
Administrative services are the backbone of what most virtual assistants provide. If you want to hire someone with broad skills and good experience then in the USA you will more than likely be paying around $15 per hour according to payscale.com.
In Australia, a general administrative virtual assistant will cost you around $26 per hour according to indeed.com.
Again, this is a ballpark cost and it’s for a virtual assistant who undertakes quite basic tasks. If you need help with executive tasks such as business reports, white papers or events, then the cost rises to around $30 per hour in the USA. and around $45 in Australia.
How experienced are they?
Obviously, the more experience on offer, the higher the cost. The questions is this – how experienced do you need them to be?
For example, if you’re hiring a VA for social media marketing help then you’ll need someone with at least four years experience. They might cost more but you’ll save time on training and there’s much less risk involved.
Simpler tasks such as booking appointments or monitoring messages on your social media can easily be managed by someone with only a few months experience.
What about hiring from abroad?
Virtual assistants from some countries are obviously going to offer cheaper deals than others. The Philippines and India are two countries which have plenty of skill and talent on offer but for much lower prices than others.
The issue can be with language. You need to ensure your virtual assistant has excellent English both spoken and written if you want to hire from abroad.
There’s no need to assume however that hiring someone from another country means they might be less skilled. There are many very highly skilled and qualified people working remotely from right across the globe.
In fact, working with people from a different culture can be of huge benefit as they may be able to offer you specialist knowledge or languages which you wouldn’t otherwise easily access.
How to begin working with a virtual assistant
So you’re happy with what a virtual assistant might cost, what next? Well, before you hire anyone, work out exactly what it is you need help with. You’re going to have to be extremely clear in your job description so that there’s no room for error.
- Write down all of the tasks you’d like to pass on to your virtual assistant. Make the notes crystal clear and include details on the best way to manage each task.
- Create a job description. In this description you need to add all of the programs which your virtual assistant needs to understand. Be clear if they need to be a whiz with PowerPoint or WordPress for example.
- Depending on how you find your VA, you will at some point get to meet them either in person or virtually. Ask important questions before you start working together. A good example would be “Can you share with me a time when you managed to diffuse a problematic situation at work?”
- Training is vital. You will need to train your virtual assistant and help them to become familiar with all aspects of the work. It may take a few weeks before you feel that they can be left alone to manage without much supervisory help.
Remember, a virtual assistant is not an employee. They’re there to help out with some tasks – not all.
Effectively managing remote staff
Effectively managing remote staff is always challenging. There’s no escaping the fact that dealing with remote workers comes with its own set of unique problems but the key ingredient of great management is always great communication. No matter where you are in the world, if you communicate clearly, you will find your virtual assistant is able to perform more effectively.
Different time zones do present a set of unique challenges though. Your virtual assistant may be in another country and for anyone who hasn’t worked with remote staff before, this might seem insurmountable but it’s really not.
If your VA is based on another continent, or in another city, you can set your calendars to work within either one of the time zones so that scheduled meetings always happen at the correct time for both of you.
Remote staff offer an advantage
You’ll find that you can slip into a routine with remote staff who are in different time zones quite easily. Let’s imagine your assistant is in Australia and you’re in the USA. Australia, broadly speaking is a full day ahead of the USA. So in fact, this could be seen as an advantage.
Your assistant can get things done in preparation for your business day before you’ve even woken up. Questions can be asked overnight and the response will be waiting for you in the morning.
With staff in countries where the difference is not so large, you’ll find that you can come together at the start or end of each working day and manage perfectly well in this fashion.
Platforms such as Slack and Trello are excellent for coming together, sharing documents and discussing the day’s work.
Managing time in general
Most virtual assistants will use time-tracking software. This allows you and them to keep constant track of how time is being used. Sometimes, you might want a virtual assistant for just a short period of time – maybe for a special one-off project.
If this is the case, then it might be better to pay a flat fee. Depending on your needs though, you should always know in advance how much you’re going to be paying by the hour or per project.
Your virtual assistant may have their own routine and preferences with time-tracking and it’s a good idea to discuss this in advance to make sure you’re happy with the arrangements.
Staying in touch with your virtual assistant
Some virtual assistants keep daily logs and share them via Slack or similar platforms. These are a great idea as you can always stay abreast of what has been done and what still needs attention.
The main thing you need to ask yourself as a business owner and as a boss is this – “What matters most to me?”. Some things matter more than others, for you it could be that your virtual assistant is always contactable, or it could be that they always stick to the deadline no matter what.
Make these important issues clear right from the outset and there will be less room for disappointment.
Making your expectations clear from the start is an important part of successfully managing your virtual help. If they know what their role is, what you want them to achieve then there’s much less opportunity for misunderstandings to arise.
If you’re on the same page, then your goals will be reached.
It all comes down to trust
Trusting your VA will listen to your expectations and manage their time effectively is down to you. It’s a good idea to make a note of how long tasks you’ve assigned will take prior to handing them over.
You’ll probably have a good understanding of this because you will have been doing them yourself! If you’re not sure how long something will take, ask the VA for their thoughts on the matter. They’ll give you an estimate at least. Always discuss in advance, ask questions and invite your virtual assistant to do the same, it’s much better to air out anything you’re not happy with than to allow it to fester.
Look into hiring a virtual assistant today – making an inquiry costs nothing and once you find a good VA, you’ll wonder how you managed without one.