As a small-business owner, you likely know a thing or two about leverage. If you don’t, think of it this way. You probably don’t have the physical ability to lift a car, but using that small car jack in the trunk of your car, you’re able to lift the car enough to change the flat tire. By using the jack, you were able to multiply your own power to get the car off the ground. (Alternatively, maybe you used AAA, which, by the way, is also leverage.)
Leverage and Business
What does leverage have to do with business? Every business grows by leveraging money, people, and a host of other tools, but let’s focus on people.
If you hired you to do the work you do now, how much would you have to pay you? You’ve built a business so you’re not going to come cheap. Does $50 per hour sound fair?
Now, if you did hire somebody like you and you were paying that person $50 per hour, would you have them answer phones, file paperwork, do your billing, or tidy up the store? You can hire somebody to do that work for a fraction of that $50 per hour rate.
If you were paying those kinds of rates, you’re going to use (leverage) that person’s expertise to add real value to your business. They’re going to set up client meetings, produce products, consult, set strategic direction—all tasks that directly grow and add value to your business.
Be the Leader
How many of those lower level tasks are you taking on in your business that aren’t producing income? You aren’t making any money while you’re billing. You’re not making any money updating the company website or posting on Twitter and Facebook, and you’re certainly not growing your business while you’re logging customer payments.
All of these lower level tasks are important, but they’re taking up hours in your day that you could use to grow your business. Your business could grow more if you devoted your workday to duties more fitting for a top executive and paid somebody a lower wage to take care of everything else.
Hire Some Help
Some business owners would say that they don’t have the money to hire anybody but that’s likely not true. Even if you spent $25 an hour, you’re still making money by freeing yourself up to work on growing your company. You can find quality help for far less than $25 per hour but even at that rate, you’re spending $25 to make $50 for your company or hopefully much more.
This is where virtual assistants (VAs) can help. You can use them for as little or as many hours per week as you like, and anything that doesn’t require them to be in your office physically is well within their job description. Answering phones, scanning and cataloguing paperwork, data entry, social media management, and more can be taken off your to-do list.
VAs Are Cheaper Because:
- You’re not providing office space or equipment.
- You don’t pay taxes or benefits since they’re independent contractors.
- Very little training for basic tasks is required.
- VAs may partner with other VAs with more expertise for specialized tasks.
- You pay only for hours worked making it easier to monitor the value of your investment.
Overseas or Domestic?
This debate can be very personal to some and if you have a strong opinion on either side, that should override other factors. Domestic personal assistants will often cost more than those from other countries. Domestic VAs offer the advantage of speaking native English, which may be better when interacting with customers.
If your assistant lives in your community, you can mix “virtual” with “physical” as needed.
Because of the economics of other countries, international virtual assistants often work for a lower hourly wage. Often, international VAs are contracted through an agency and trained in tasks important to business owners. Any task that requires a strong command of the English language or regional knowledge might not be appropriate for international VAs.
Independent or Agency?
Any time you add a layer of management, it is going to cost more. Plenty of domestic VAs are independent. You can find them on sites like Craigslist, Elance, and local classifieds but finding somebody online comes with obvious risks. An agency knows the VA, has experience working with them, handles the paperwork, including tax forms, and can quickly find somebody else for you if the first VA doesn’t fit you well.
Find the Right Fit
Think of the people over the years that you have worked with. Of the people you remember fondly, what qualities made them the right partner? What made somebody the type of person you were happy to say goodbye to? You’re going to interact with your VA making it essential to find somebody that fits your personality.
Do you want somebody who communicates a lot? Somebody that makes obvious decisions without your input? Think of the type of people you get along with and hire that kind of personality.
How Much Can you Afford to Pay?
Some VAs will be more qualified than others. If you’re looking for somebody who can handle accounting tasks, for example, you’ll likely have to pay more. Before setting out to hire a VA, know exactly what you want them to do for you. This will assure you will find an appropriate fit.
Like any employee, it will take time for your VA to get used to working with you, learn the specifics of your business, and find a schedule that works for both of you. Be patient and expect some growing pains.
Don’t spend valuable time on tasks that are essential but don’t contribute to the growth of your business. Even if it’s part time, hire somebody who can take on the lower level tasks at a fraction of the price you’re paying yourself to do them. It’s a small investment with the potential for big returns. The best and most successful businesses all understand the power of leverage.
© 2013 Attard Communications, Inc., DBA Business Know-How®. May not be reproduced, reprinted or redistributed without written permission