Posted: Fri 25th Jun 2021
Delegating and outsourcing is key to growing a business. While small business owners are known for being masters of everything, the key to growth is focusing on what you do well and what needs your individual attention.
You need to learn how to let go of that ‘do it all’ attitude and source help. Outsourcing and delegating enables you to upscale your business in all areas – customer service, improve service and reach more people.
So what does this mean to you and when should you think about hiring a VA?
What is a virtual assistant (VA)?
A virtual assistant provides either business or personal support in a remote capacity. The support is often administrative; however, it can cover any range of services and skills.
Throughout lockdown there has been a huge rise in the number of freelancers offering virtual support on services such as marketing, PR, and social media, as well as the more traditional VA services such as personal assistance and bookkeeping. It is becoming an increasingly popular choice for solo entities or young businesses at the very early growth stages who require a bit of extra support (more of this below).
Why should I hire a VA?
You may decide to work with a VA because you want to make or save money, free up some of your time or buy in a specific skill set.
Here are the main advantages:
There are no fixed costs (think about desk space, computers etc.)
Alongside this there are no associated employment costs (although beware of IR35)
You will gain access to greater experience and skill sets
You can be truly flexible (need a VA for just a couple of hours a week or two days per week – you can decide)
Your VA will give you a fresh perspective and new insights
But how do I know I am ready to hire a VA?
I always highlight two main instances when it is clear you should hire a VA. These are:
You have less time in your business to focus on generating revenue (or tasks that you value highly)
You have a skills gap
You need time to grow a business! The most efficient way to create time is to focus on those tasks that only you can do and outsource the rest.
More often than not people think about outsourcing too late. Ideally you want your VA to be up and running before you feel the pressure of needing this additional support. But don’t panic. An efficient VA won’t take too long to catch up and the onboarding process is simple and straightforward.
But what should I outsource to my VA?
You need to be specific in your requirements to outsource effectively. This is easy if you need a particular skill set however, not so easy for generic support.
I give my clients the following exercises to help them decide what to outsource:
Work out how much you could earn instead of doing specific tasks
Determine your target annual turnover (e.g. £80,000 pa)
Divide this by the number of working hours in the year – 2080
(80,000/2080 = £38.50). This is your hourly rate for revenue generating activities
Compare this amount with what you will be paying your VA on an hourly rate (normally in the region of £20 – 35 per hour). Remember to factor in that, on average, a specialist completes a task quicker and more efficiently than you might
Write a list
Write down all the tasks on your to-do list
Divide these into repeat tasks and one-off tasks
What tasks can only you do? (i.e. what are your core competencies or those things that differentiate you from the competition)
What tasks can be done by someone else?
Result? Those repeat tasks that can be done by someone else, can be outsourced.
How much will it cost me to hire a VA?
The cost will vary and be dependent on the following:
No. of hours work
The average hourly rate in the UK for an administrative VA is around £25 per hour, however, if you were looking for a specific skillset (social media for example) the rate would be more.
Here are some things you should look out for
Experience: a VA with lots of experience will undertake the task in less time than one with little experience. An experienced VA will add greater depth of understanding to the work they undertake on your behalf.
Day rates: while this can be an excellent option in order to build up a relationship, remember to enquire how much time will actually be dedicated to you rather than shared with other clients and be clear on expected deadlines.
Project fees: A project fee will include fixed parameters for a set rate. For example, a content plan. These are great options for projects that could easily balloon out of control if booked on an hourly rate.