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Productivity / Outsourcing

How to engage a Virtual Assistant to fit your business needs

Virtual Assistants are extremely flexible; and there's a Virtual Assistant out there for every soloist budget.

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The prospect of growing your business may seem financially and emotionally daunting. At the end of the day, we all only have 24 hours, so it’s  impossible to get everything done.

The advances in technology and the ever-changing landscape that businesses are operating within, are allowing bigger and better possibilities than ever before. Soloists want to take full advantage of these opportunities, and free up time, so they can work alongside the big players.

What my corporate admin working experience taught me

As a career administration assistant I didn’t realise the possibilities of soloism until I fell into business for myself almost a year ago. I found it impossible to get a job that allowed me enough flexibility to meet my young son’s needs. In my search for flexible working conditions I quickly started to see how important that same flexibility is for businesses.

During my time within a temping pool for a recruiter, I saw firsthand how businesses need flexible and ad-hoc support, especially within  administration support fields. I built my own business around such demands because I know how important it is to outsource, but finances and budget need to be considered too.

"Virtual Assistants are a cost effective way of accessing administrative support quickly, for your business "

Traditionally when you think of admin support you may automatically visualise a permanent employee who sits at a desk in the office. Another option may be going through a temporary recruitment agency and paying some hefty service fees for the provision of someone for your business, for a fixed period of time, or as a permanent staff member.

By far the biggest plus of hiring a Virtual Assistant is that they can provide this support remotely; you don’t have to purchase equipment and office space to accommodate them.

So what will a Virtual Assistant cost you?

Virtual Assistants have a number of methods for setting their pricing structures, and this variability means there’s someone out there for every soloist! Here are the four most common types:

1. Charging by the hour

A large number of Virtual Assistants operate in this structure – myself included. Basically you provide the tasks you want required and then you pay only for the time it takes for the Virtual Assistant to complete them for you. There’s no minimum number of hours or time blocks, it’s purely a per hour based charging structure. And it’s not a fixed time period; most of my clients utilise this charging structure on an ongoing basis. Some weeks they incur 30 mins billable, others it’s five hours and upwards. It’s an ongoing arrangement where communication is key.

2. Pre-Purchased Block of Hours

I also have clients on pre-purchased blocks. They pre-purchase a block of 5/10/15/20 hours and then depending on the Terms and Conditions the Virtual Assistant has in place (some have a 30 day expiry on pre-purchased blocks, kind of the same way pre-paid mobile plans work) you then have those hours to use up with the VA to get the tasks you need completed done. Once you are nearing the end of your time block, the VA will let you know and you can purchase further hours if you need to. This is a great option if you have a set amount of budget at a particular point in time and you just have a set number of things you want to make a dent in, but don’t want an ongoing expense. .

3. Retainer

If you’re at the point where you definitely want a Virtual Assistant to be an ongoing part of your business, then this is a great option for you. Based on the items you want them to take care of on a regular basis you may have a retainer price provided, that you pay at a per week or per month rate for a maximum number of hours/tasks. This is the closest you will have to having an employee for your business yet without the hassle of PAYG, Super, Annual Leave etc. Retainers are great if you have a wide and varied range of items that you want taken care of in your business.

4. Fixed Price Package

You will see this pricing structure a lot with social media related tasks and some marketing tasks such as blog writing, websites and regular deliverables, as well as reception and cold calling. If you want someone to just purely look after answering your phone and taking messages, then it’s likely you’ll be quoted a fixed price package rate or $X per week for  X number of calls. Or in the social media space for example: 1 x post per day on the platform of your choice, 1 x email newsletter per month, 1 x blog post per month, 8 x custom designed social media graphics for $x per month. These packages are fantastic for working into your regular budget for specific tasks you just want to set and forget.

So there you have it! Virtual Assistants are your cost effective way of getting the administrative support quickly into your business and because they are business owners themselves, they bring a completely different mindset to that of an employee, in supporting your business goals.

Korryn Haines

is an administration ninja with over 10 years of administrative experience in a wide range of industries. Based in Brisbane and founder of Encore Admin Consulting, she provides virtual assistant and administration consulting services to small businesses, solopreneurs and entrepreneurs. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn

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