Could a virtual assistant help your business grow?
If you run a small firm and you haven’t considered hiring yourself a Virtual Assistant (VA) then you might be missing one of the keys to unlocking your productivity and improving your delegation.
I can speak about this subject with some authority for two reasons:
1. About five years ago I hired myself a VA. As I’ve written about previously, in How I Got My Life Back By Hiring a VIrtual Assistant, it changed my life.
2. I’ve worked with hundreds of advisory firms over the past 12 years and I’ve seen first hand:
a.) The benefits of getting a VA on board for busy owner/advisers.
b.) The initial resistance to the idea from these very same owner/advisers.
In this week’s blog I talk to Emma Teagle, my VA, who helps keep FP Advance running like clockwork.
Brett: What does a VA do?
Emma: A Virtual Assistant (VA) is a modern support solution. I work remotely, so there’s no office costs or space requirements for you to worry about. I provide professional support as required by the client and can get involved in a wide variety of jobs; some that you may not have considered delegating before. I work on a self-employed basis with multiple clients, meaning you gain my valuable experience across a range of businesses, without the hassle, risk or expense of hiring in-house employees.
Brett: How can a VA help you and your business?
Emma: VAs are all very different, so get clear on what your core needs are when doing your research. In my case I have a wide variety of skill sets and experience and can take on a wide variety of tasks, in order to help you run and grow your business. Organisational skills are my strength including diary management and scheduling (personal and business), handling email, booking travel (both personal and professional), project and/or campaign management.
Tasks are endless and my role may grow within a firm, once the relationship has been established.
“My initial need was to have someone handle my emails. However, Emma now almost runs the business for Debbie and myself. She liaises with the other ten virtual members of the FP Advance team and ensures that everything gets done in the time frames we set. She’s also the first port of call with our clients and can respond to issues much quicker than I can, as I juggle my face-to-face work with being responsive to emails and phone calls. The relationship has just kept growing and growing, allowing me to delegate more and more of the non-essential tasks that used to clog up my diary and kill the fun factor at work.”
Brett: Who uses VAs?
Emma: If you don’t think there are enough hours in the day to get through your to do list, be it business or personal, then you’re more than ready to work with a VA!
Brett: What are the cost implications and hours?
Emma: The great thing about hiring a VA is you can hire them for as many, or as little, hours as you like. Paying an hourly rate means I am accessible to firms who may not choose to have full-time or even part-time help. I offer bespoke, ad-hoc or long-term packages, tailor-made to fit my client’s needs.
My hourly rate starts from £28 per hour.
“I remember my life coach Kerri Richardson telling me about her experience of upgrading her VA at one point. She said the new person cost $US50 per hour; a lot more than she was paying at the time. However, when she sent work through to him, he did it in milliseconds when compared to the previous person. It was because his skills were cutting edge and he was brilliant with technology. Our experience was the same when we moved to Emma. Her hourly rate was higher than our previous person, but our monthly invoices were half of what we’d paid before.”
Brett: How does a business owner go about selecting the perfect match?
Emma: Mutual trust between myself and my clients is the foundation on which my business is built. Working remotely involves building trust in the completion of delegated tasks, to the quality and standard expected. Effective delegation is key.
I believe the most important part of selecting the right VA for your business, is to select one that has similar values and working ethos to you. For me, this is all about generating a better work-life balance, life being the priority.
The 9-5 working day in one location is not my way of working. My business has been built around freedom, flexibility and a laptop lifestyle, which is a great fit with FP Advance and many of my other clients who also believe in work-life balance. This enables continuous interaction with clients, keeping my finger on the pulse. My method of working has provided me with the opportunity to travel and maintain worldwide connections, using up-to-date technological advances. My partner is a Professional Sailor currently as skipper and crew onboard fast multihulls, specialising in racing and deliveries in the Atlantic, Caribbean and Pacific. I often fly to spend time with him in some of these amazing locations and I still provide continuous service to clients.
I am passionate and committed to my business and the lifestyle it enables me to have. Being autonomous and adaptable benefits both my clients and myself, enabling great synergy to evolve and guaranteeing mutual success.
“There are some fantastic benefits in working with a VA. Here are just a few:
1. You can hire the best talent, even if they don’t live or work in your location. I know a few advisers who feel their location makes it difficult to hire good people. Hiring a virtual team member can overcome this issue.
2. A VA doesn’t need to be physically in your office to do your work. At FP Advance we ditched the office years ago, and our whole team works remotely. This has made for substantial cost savings in the business and lifestyle flexibility.
3. Working remotely forces your business to be smarter with filing, using electronic systems and outsourced document management services. Having your hand forced in this way really gets you focused on working more effectively and there is so much out there that’s cheap (and often free) to use.
4. As a result of the remote approach, we’ve embraced document sharing which allows us to access anything, anytime, anywhere online.
5. You get your life back.