Owning a small business can be the most awesome experience, allowing people with passion to work in a field that they absolutely love. Be it as a retailer, restauranteur, service provider, creator, grower or whatever area – you hopefully are running a business you have a great connection with!
But do you know what absolutely grinds the gears of so many small business owners out there – the BLOODY ADMIN!
The administration that can go into a small business can be crushing for so many owners.
The drudgery of managing the f**king paperwork, payroll, bookkeeping, procedures and policy, the social media, and all the documents in between can be absolutely soul destroying! Especially if the business owners skill-set does not naturally lie in those areas!
And the worst bit is – most of us have to complete these admin tasks out of the standard business hours, which can add so much time to our day/week getting all this “admin-ey” stuff done. Coupled with the fact that for a lot of these tasks are repeated week on week, month on month, it’s enough to send some business owners sanity and will to keep operating their business to the wall.
But THERE ARE OPTIONS – one of the growth industries in Australia is the rise of the Virtual Assistant (VA). These are people for whom tackling those admin tasks are their bread and butter – and outsourcing some of the tasks that give you the most trouble in your business, can be some of the best money you EVER spend.
“BUT WHY DO I NEED A VA?” you might ask, “I can actually do this myself if I put my mind – and time – into it….!”
And that’s correct – but is that the best way to spend YOUR VALUABLE TIME?
I’ll use this analogy.
Say your business is a retail store selling clothes, and you have an issue with a leaking downpipe in your kitchen area. Most people do have the capacity to learn about fixing leaks and spend the time to fix the leaking pipe if they tried.
To do this you would need to go and purchase all the equipment needed, do some reading up online on how to fix the different types of pipes (filtering through all the information to get to the right details for your particular downpipes), or take a short course in “Basic Plummery” (or something), then spend a significant amount of time to step through these processes, and actually have a crack at fixing the pipe. And then (hopefully) the pipe is fixed, and it doesn’t spring a leak again.
BUT AT WHAT COST? You may have spent a couple of hundred dollars just on the equipment you need, then if you factor in the hours you spent trying to learn how to do the job properly (and the money for the “Basic Plummery” course you signed up for and you had to attend), and then when you factor in the cost of YOUR TIME, you could be nearing a thousand dollars just to fix the pipe.
Instead, what most people do is hire a plumber to do this job for you. They have all the skills and tools, and can call in and have that leak stopped very quickly and efficiently and for much less than you having to do it all yourself – all while you were going about your actual business of selling clothes and MAKING THE MONEY!
That’s how hiring a Virtual Assistant works – the VA takes on those admin jobs that you might well be able to do yourself, but they can do it more efficiently and effectively, and actually save you money in the long run once you work out how much YOUR TIME is worth.
An example of this MY TIME IS BETTER SPENT ON MY BUSINESS AND NOT ON SHITTY ADMIN STUFF is as follows:
I am currently working with a client who is an artist.
He creates the most gorgeous and detailed paintings. He absolutely LOVES what he does.
Yet the admin side of selling his paintings was completely frustrating for him. And it was taking away his time in creating – which was a vicious cycle, as he is gaining so much recognition that the commission requests are piling in – yet he is finding less time to create due to all the admin that selling art, creating commissions, organising workshops and running a gallery entails.
This is where I was able to help! This artist engaged my services to help tame the admin beast in his art gallery business.
I have been able to create invoices and quotes for him, liaise with suppliers and clients, help set up and organise his social media accounts, and basically take care of those aspects of his business that doesn’t sit in his core area of expertise. It has saved him time to focus on the creation of art, which is the part of his business actually going to generate income for him!
I have consulted with another business with some one-off admin work to look into business software, and tackled social media tasks for a number of other businesses. I could go on and on with the ways I have assisted different business owners with tasks or projects or work to make their admin run more smoothly, which has given them more time focusing on their actual core business!
All of these businesses who engaged my services are the experts in the areas of the business they run – they themselves admit that the parts of the administration that they have me assist them with is NOT their area of expertise.
Engaging the services of a Virtual Assistant can be one of the best moves you make for your business!
There are different assistants who specialise in one area (ie bookkeeping, document management, client relationship management, content creation, social media management, organising spaces or workflows etc), or others who are multi-skilled across a number of areas. You can engage one person or a couple or a few VA’s to complete this work for you – the options are as endless as the tasks that a Virtual Assistant can help you with!
So, could a Virtual Assistant be the right move for your business?
Here is the quick checklist quiz you can take – and if you answer yes to any of the questions, it might be time to invest in a Virtual Assistant to take some of the tasks off your hands, allowing you to concentrate on the aspects of your business that actually make you the money!
DO I NEED A VIRTUAL ASSISTANT? YOU ABSOLUTELY DO, if you answer YES to any of these questions!
- I hate admin. YES / NO
- I spend hours each week trying to organise the bookwork / paperwork / administration side of my business, and I don’t enjoy it! YES / NO
- I struggle to create documents that are needed for my customers or clients, and spend a lot of time attempting to put them together, only for the end result to be something I’m not happy with or utterly crap. YES / NO
- I really hate admin. YES / NO
- I don’t want to employ another person in my business to do these jobs, I just want to hire a service to tackle the administrative tasks. YES / NO
- Spreadsheets suck. YES / NO
- I would rather be fed to crocodiles than have to organise one more invoice or quote. YES / NO
- I have to use social media to get new customers or clients, but it does my head in trying create content and run it. YES / NO
- I really REALLY hate admin. YES / NO
How many yes-es did you get on that quiz? If there was at least one, READ ON!
“OK, great Lee, yes, you just confirmed I bloody hate admin and it is destroying my will to live” you might say.
“But how do I GET A REALLY FABULOUS AND EXCELLENT VIRTUAL ASSISTANT like yourself?”
Well, that is a great question.
If you want to book me in, then I would LOVE to work with you – check out my services section on my blog and touch base and we can chat!
But you may be looking for some help in an area that isn’t my field of skill – and that’s ok too! There are lots of other VA’s out there.
Unfortunately, being that the Virtual Assistant business in Australia is unregulated, it can make it tricky for businesses to connect with people to help them out.
So here are my suggestions for seeking out a great Virtual Assistant:
Look for a VA from your local community, wider area or region, or as someone who is at least based in Australia.
There are offshore options yes, and while they might seem cheaper to start with, you need to factor in the complications using an offshore service can bring:
- Communication barriers – and I’m mainly referring to the vast difference in how Aussies generally use phrases and terminology that people overseas just don’t understand (Try asking the next American you speak to what a “CHOOK” is – it’s a great conversation starter!)
- Currency conversion – you have to factor in the cost with regards to the fluctuating Australian dollar
- Time differences – if your VA is based in a time-zone with hours of difference, they may not be accessible when you need them
- Lack of qualifications – with Australian based VA’s, it’s easy to verify if their qualifications match the skills they say they are bringing, and to speak with their referees. And if you go local, you can even meet them for a cuppa to put a face to the VA!
Asking for referrals from people you know personally or in other businesses, is the quickest way to suss out potential VA’s.
Use a Service
The Seed_VA is a new network of Rural based Virtual Assistants. Amy the founder has created a wonderful program (I myself have completed her course). Engaging a VA who has undertaken her workshops gives the business owner confidence that the person has the basic know-how to be a VA.
You can contact her via the Facebook page which is a great way to reach out to ask for leads on awesome VA’s, and she is happy to put out “Seeking A VA” call in the Seed VA group.
Otherwise, accessing other job agencies like SEEK, or touching base with the Business Administration section of Registered Training Organisations like your local TAFE or Community College, can put you in touch with people who have the skills to get your admin tasks done!
Check their references and qualifications.
Aussie VA’s are great because you can see they have qualifications relevant to the industry in Australia.
And don’t hesitate to ask for the contacts for other businesses or people who have used their services who can vouch for them and the service they provide! Just like you would with an employee, checking out the persons references is vital.
So there you have it – a comprehensive(ish) rundown on why you need to have a Virtual Assistant in your business life!
Leave me a comment below with the biggest Admin-bug-bear you have in your business!