by Lourdes Welhaven, August 30, 2013
Virtual Assistants | Your Small Business Secret to Success
This morning I woke up and started the day knowing that the tasks I find tedious, and other tasks, are done thanks to my team of “virtual assistants.” Lourdes Wellhaven.
I didn’t start my career as a self-employed person with a team. Instead, I took the hard route. I went the typical I’ll-make-it-happen-somehow-bravado route. I slept very little and sacrificed a lot to get my business off the ground. In a few short months it became clear that I needed help and fast. I thought that the logical next step was to hire my first employee. I chose well, I thought to have hired a dear friend who needed a part-time job.
Sure I had heard that it’s not good idea to hire a friend or family member. But that warning was for “other people.” I soon found out that I was not immune to the same issues that every start-up has when they hire people they care about. Unfortunately that business relationship ended badly and the friendship ended with it. That employer/employee relationship was followed by a series of additional similar situations, some working really well, but most, not so much.
I hired an HR Coach to tell me what I was doing wrong. In a few short hours he came up with a recommendation that was very surprising. He advised me to hire Virtual Assistants for everything. Yes, a VA for every single possible job function my firm needed or would ever need in the future, no exceptions.
I couldn’t wrap my head around the concept. My concerns were endless. But he described to me in detail how he himself works exclusively with VA’s. I took his advice, albeit with baby steps in the beginning, but have not looked back since.
Here’s what I’ve learned in the process
Labor costs have dramatically decreased:
It may appear at first glance that I’m paying more for an “assistant” per hour than I did before but that’s not true and here’s why: There are many other costs besides the hourly wage rate associated with a traditional employee including paid-time-off, fringe benefits, insurance, worker’s comp, retirement etc. If you are truly using the services of an independent contractor (check IRS regulations) then there are no other additional hourly expenses.
Production has increased:
I was more than a little shocked to realize that what my traditional employee was taking 40 hours to complete was quickly and efficiently done by my VA in 10 hours.
Team spirit has been enhanced:
Virtual team members have a very different mindset primarily because the business relationship is different. I’m not their boss, I’m their client. Astoundingly my VA’s act as if they have a bigger vested interest in my success.
Internal Control has increased:
Internal control in an accounting term whereby a company puts policies and procedures in place to ensure the accuracy of financial data and the safeguarding of resources. I thought that having remote employees would compromise internal control, but instead, I’ve found that with the help of technology, it has been enhanced.
My company benefits from the experience a VA has with other clients.
My VA’s each serve lots of different clients. This means they get really good at doing that “one thing” and have specialized in certain tasks. Further, because they serve so many different clients daily with those specialized skills, they have a much deeper understanding than any traditional employee could ever hope to.
I can easily scale up or down as my workload warrants.
Projects start and complete and I can enlist help on an as-needed basis instead of being stressed about providing enough work for my employees on an ongoing basis. It’s a huge responsibility to hire someone. That’s a pressure I simply do not have to deal with any longer.
Sure I miss the water-cooler talk from time to time and the camaraderie of having others in-house. There is always a give and take with everything in life. For me, though, I’d rather sacrifice the social aspects of having an in-office staff for the happiness that I get from knowing that I’m working smarter for myself and my clients.