Are you looking to grow and scale your brand this year? Worried you don’t have the time to do it all or the resources to hire a team member? A Virtual Assistant (VA) might be just the person you need to help your business dreams come true. Are you ready to outsource some work today?
Grace Robinson is the managing director of Eden Assistants, where she oversees 15 fabulous VAs within the creative industry. After years of working as a Virtual Assistant herself, she set up Eden Assistants “to help business owners work their magic in their zones of genius”. Individuals and business owners reach out to VAs for several reasons, and Grace comments that most often, it’s “when people are looking to grow their brand, and they realise there are so many different skills involved. According to Grace, a VA can step in “when you’re looking to outsource things you’re not good at or that you don’t enjoy”.
Why do people reach out to a VA for help?
Grace comments that when people are looking to grow and realise there are so many different skills involved and challenging for one person to have the skills, resources, experience and time to do everything, they look for a VA! Often they’ve been recommended to do so from a business coach: to outsource things you’re not good at or that you don’t enjoy.
“It’s when people stop enjoying the work they do. With any business, there are always extra tasks involved that won’t be your passion or your core work and take away from your focus.”
VAs vs Interns vs Employees
Having the time to focus on the parts of your business you thrive in is vital, but why hire someone virtually instead and a real-life employee? From interns to team members, all job roles serve a purpose. Still, Grace reminds us that “to employ someone as a team member is a HUGE commitment. For example, you need HR policies etc. to do it legally, and it is also a big financial commitment”, which isn’t for everyone. “That’s for when you’re at the stage that you cannot cope on your own; you have the money and can invest.”
You may be thinking about hiring an intern, which is a great way to “give young people the opportunity for work experience [and] it’s good for outsourcing lower-level jobs that don’t require much from you to lead them.” Grace continues that an intern’s ability may end there, and when you need more training or experience, a Virtual Assistant is ready and waiting. Unlike team member, they are insured externally and work alongside updated GDPR rules and regulations.
Barriers in the industry
Despite the wealth of benefits of VAs, the industry is still relatively new in some more traditional sectors. Similarly, business owners and brand leaders aren’t always aware of the criteria of a Virtual Assistant. They have a wealth of knowledge, and to become a VA takes a lot of skill and training.
Grace comments that “they are excellent problem solvers, they have to do things by themselves a lot of the time. It’s a profession in itself!”
They have often come from roles as Personal or Executive Assistants and have experience with taking instructions and diversifying.
That said, they’re not super-human, and you’re probably not “going to find the perfect unicorn VA that will be able to do everything!” Just like most jobs, all types of roles are different, “so it’s important to find someone who can do the majority of things you need”. She admits, one person cannot do everything expertly,” and if you’re still lacking, it might be an idea to fill in the gaps with another expert or freelancer.
Choosing a VA that is right for you
How do you get started? Is there a wrong time to start? The first thing is to “find the right match in terms of skill, expertise and attitude to fulfil your brief and requirements”, Grace tells us, “while some will want to be led, others will take the lead”.
It is essential to be clear on the role of your desired Virtual Assistant,” if you’re not prepared to welcome a new member of your team, it’s not a good time. You need to take time to think about what you want to hand over and how to choose what to delegate.” Think of this time as an investment. In the future, this time and money invested will serve you.
“The more hands, attention and skills in your business means there’s more room for your business to grow. It can help to drive your business forward more quickly and easily.”
Ultimately, clear communication is vital when working virtually. It is essential to plan in calls and regular catch-ups as “the better and more precise you are, the better and more efficient the VA will be”.
For additional sources of motivation, Grace recalls the need for comments and praise when deserved. She also suggests introducing them to other team members to make your VA feel more involved. Don’t forget to take time to get to know them, even virtually, and play to their strengths.
An evolving work-space
This virtual way of working may have seemed alien to many of us pre-COVID 2020, but with the rise of working from home, the Virtual Assistant space is evolving. Grace has noticed a definite increase in demand for VAs and becoming a “new and integral part of the team… The role of the VA and the idea of virtual working has gone up in people’s opinions, attitudes and beliefs. You can work from home successfully, and that can do a lot online. The industry is starting to take VAs more seriously.”
Speaking about business more widely, Grace comments that there has been and will continue to be a lot of redundancies in certain areas due to the pandemic. Many brands and businesses realise that a VA can fill these roles more cost-effectively. Without the need for HR, admin policies and desk space, a VA can be very appealing. While there are industry wage averages as conducted by the Society of Virtual Assistants even year in the UK, remember that “good VAs will charge what they’re worth” [and] rates will vary throughout the country.”
When growing and scaling your brand or small business, trust and enthusiasm are two essential traits you are looking for in any team member. With ever-increasing time and money demands, a VA offers an affordable and flexible way of working to your strengths and theirs. Whether you need a couple of hours a week or a few days a month, there will be a VA out there waiting for you online to fill in the gaps in your business so you can get back to the bits of work that make you feel alive.