Hiring a Virtual Assistant For Your Business

 Does your business need a Virtual Assistant?

What’s a Virtual Assistant? Most people look blank when I tell them what I do. Well, it’s usually a person who used to work as a personal or executive assistant and is now a business owner who has the same job description but works from their own home office.

Today, it’s not necessary for a small business to maintain a traditional office setup, with a mixture of full or part-time staff dedicated to specific tasks or departments. It’s not only not necessary, but by sticking to this model you can position yourself at a competitive disadvantage. Watch helplessly as your competitors see the advantages of streamlining and outsourcing.

The Evidence is Out There

Flexjobs is basically just what it says, a website with job listings that are flexible. In a recent bulletin, they report a 52% increase in remote job listings in the last 2 years so, it’s no surprise that we see the meteoric rise of the virtual assistant. In reality, there is not much the virtual assistant cannot do compared to a “real-life” assistant, except perhaps, get your coffee.

When entrepreneurs make an accurate comparison of costs the disparity becomes quite clear. It makes no sense, from a logistical and economic point of view, to continue to maintain a costly “bricks and mortar” office.

The Real Cost of an Employee

Hidden costs associated with employing somebody on either a full or part-time basis include benefits, contribution to a pension scheme, payment for sick leave, holiday pay, travel allowance and Government deductions. These are some of the payments necessary for an employee and to satisfy legal requirements. Yet these costs only reflect a part of the problem.

When a business owner commits to employing someone, they must also commit to training and ongoing development. Training and development are expected by an employee nowadays or they will go elsewhere. Hiring a full-time employee is also a commitment made without being fully aware of the future. It can be difficult to scale up or down your requirements and it can take too long to replace somebody who leaves. A business struggling due to staff shortage or lack of training can place the organization at a competitive disadvantage. Agility and responsiveness are keywords for all companies these days – not easy goals to achieve if the organization can

not easily manage employee growth.

As a business grows its needs to change. Therefore, the ability to sustain this growth will be determined by how quickly it can change direction and how easily its employees can be retrained, or in some cases replaced.

As a small business owner, how are you dealing with a sporadic need for assistance? Leave aa comment below.

Cloud Computing

Cloud computing on a school blackboard

If you think you don’t know what Cloud computing is, think again. The average layman will respond to the term with a blank stare, but when you explain the basic concept they’re quite familiar with the idea. After all, some of us have been using cloud computing for our personal e-mail requirements for years now – who’s got a Hotmail account?

Let’s look at it this way. In plain English, it’s like renting somebody else’s staff and premises to handle your business, allowing you to free up a lot of your resources, time and money for other purposes. As such, it’s ideal for anyone considering self-employment, or for anyone whose business is a bit top-heavy when it comes to administration.

In my world, the world of the virtual assistant, cloud computing is a godsend. It enables unprecedented collaboration and the VA can be even more productive, allowing the entrepreneur to delegate or outsource using a variety of applications and software hosted “in the cloud”.

Cloud computing may turn out to be one of the most positive developments for small businesses in many generations. Remember what you had to do to establish a small business before cloud computing became a feasible alternative. You had to invest in large upfront expenditure in terms of hardware plus the cost of software licenses could be astronomical. Businesses had to engage highly skilled technicians and IT personnel to set up their systems and/or to train the people who would be working for them, if not themselves.

The advent of cloud computing was perfectly timed when you look at the general trend in downsizing personal and laptop computers. They will soon only be portals connecting straight to the internet where everything you need will be stored.

As time goes by more and more applications are becoming available in the cloud. Office 365 and Adobe programmes come to mind immediately. Pay a monthly fee, get all upgrades as they appear and no costly upfront payments. If you search, you will likely find that any software application you use has an equivalent App in the cloud.

As cloud computing becomes more integrated in everyday life we are seeing continued investment in infrastructure and very high performance. Whilst data security may have been questionable at one time, now it’s almost taken for granted and there isn’t much of a risk of downtime in realistic terms.

Virtual assistants can and should be entirely at ease with the concept of cloud computing and able to coordinate all initiatives for the small business owner.