Much has been written about the advantages of hiring a virtual assistant and why you should consider using one for the success of your business. Read here, here and here about why outsourcing is important for even small businesses. I have listed the main advantages for hiring a virtual assistant that apply to most businesses. However, when someone writes about the downsides of hiring a VA they are mostly referring to hiring one from another country . The writer will talk about time zones and language barriers causing issues. But what if you hire a VA from your own country, are there any disadvantages? Not really, but there are some pitfalls you need to consider to ensure that it is a successful working relationship.
No need to pay the employee benefits
Yes, you will have to pay a decent hourly rate but hours/rates will be agreed up front meaning costs are more predictable.
You can hire someone specific to the tasks you need
As with any freelancer/contractor, all virtual assistants have different skill sets and experiences. So if you need general admin then a generalist will do the job. You can also find specialists who have marketing, social media, techie, database, events experience. You will be able to find one to can truly support your business.
Frees up your time to take on more clients/paying work
There are many tasks required to run a business/work as a freelancer and these may not be where your skill set lies. So why spending ages completing tasks that take you away from your core business. A VA could complete them more efficiently.
Great at organising and making systems more efficient
Many VAs have experience at being office managers/PAs/EAs etc. This means they are excellent at developing efficient office/admin processes. You can hire a VA for a one off project of reviewing your systems and processes. This can save you time and money.
More effective communication is required
You need to ensure that you are clear in communications. Otherwise you may find all your billable time is used up discussing how you want the tasks completed.
Need to be able to be an excellent delegator
In my time as a PA I would work in the same office as the bosses I worked for so was able easily see what tasks I felt could be delegated to me. Although not impossible when using a VA, especially once they know your business well, you will need to be very clear on what tasks you wish to delegate. There are some very simple techniques to finding out what tasks can be passed over to the virtual assistant (this will be covered in another post).
The Challenge of delegating
Many managers need to delegate on a daily basis but if you have built up a business on your own from scratch it can be hard to give up some of the responsibilities or the sense of ‘I did this all on my own’. You may never have met the Virtual Assistant in person (although a Skype call is recommended if face-to-face is not possible) or they may be only doing a couple of hours per week so delegating may be extra tricky but to create space to grow your business it does need to be done.
Need to be very careful about security
If data about your business needs to be transferred (even if it isn’t covered by the data protection act) you need to discuss with your Virtual Assistant how they will protect your data.
As you can see none of these points raised are a reason not to hire a VA, they are things that will need to be carefully considered from the outset. Issues further down the line can be resolved but can easily be prevented if the business owner:-
1/ Has clearly defined the tasks that need to be completed and what their expectations are
2/ Considered carefully the tasks that are to be outsourced to a VA
3/ Has acknowledged that outsourcing is a benefit to the business and not a sign of defeat
4/ Is willing to discuss security with the VA.