I think the word “assistant” gets a bad wrap. The majority of people tend to link the word assistant with rich, successful, on E-News type of celebrities. However, the amount of small business owners you see and talk to every day that employs virtual assistants might surprise you. The Internet is a beautiful thing, and more importantly, the Internet allows small business owners to outsource critical parts of their business without taking on the financial burden of a full-time employee. There is a laundry list of reasons a small business owner is being less productive than he should be: personal errands are killing productivity, ignoring core tasks, business is growing, bogged by repetition, etc. Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) is the act of outsourcing business processes to a virtual assistant. By finding a good virtual assistant professional, a small business owner can delegate administrative tasks and effectively get back more hours in his day. Here is a list we compiled in talking to small business owners as the top five reasons you need to hire a virtual assistant.
1. Buried in Administrative Tasks
I hate when someone uses the word ‘mundane’ to describe administrative tasks. You should too. They aren’t. However, small business owners tend to ignore them until the pile is big enough they cannot see over it, and simple daily tasks become intimidatingly-impossible. A virtual assistant can remove this headache for a small business owner, and relatively cheaply, too. The first step is to do an analysis of your business activities over the course of each day for an entire week, writing down the minor tasks that are taking up time. Two musts: DO write DOWN every single thing you do, the devil is in the details. If you aren’t thorough, you could overlook cogs in your productivity wheel. DO NOT rule out anything as a task a virtual assistant could not do, because they probably can. Solid administrative-task virtual assistants from abroad, can be secured for as little as $3 to $6 an hour. I, personally, have a woman from the Philippines who I outsource to for $3.35/hr. She’s a godsend and to-date has been able to tackle anything I’ve sent her way: lead generation, PR reach out, keyword research, data research, e-mail follow-up, product research, etc. – you name it, she’s delivered.
2. Social Media
The elephant in the room is Social Media. As a small business owner, it’s crammed down your throat that you need to be all over Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest…the list goes on-and-on. But the reality of the matter is you don’t, at least the way it’s being told to you. The reality of the situation is that being everywhere isn’t possible for a small business, let alone profitable. The reality of the situation is that you should acquire your name on all of the Social Media channels, but engaging on them isn’t necessarily your best bet. Some of the most successful small businesses have utilized one Social Media channel, hired a virtual assistant to manage the content calendar, and maximized their time by being hyper-engaged with one community. A virtual assistant can take care of the ‘monitoring’ for you, while the business owner focuses on the relationship building part.
3. Lead Generation
Lead generation is the name of the game for small businesses on the Internet. Whether inbound campaigns to your website, cultivating interest via social media accounts and website contact forms and comments are just a few examples of powerful sources of leads. Lead generation is a very time-consuming manual task, though.
Locating > Determining > Sales > Follow-up
The process is arduous and requires a lot of detailed attention along the way. A virtual assistant can easily sort through all of the leads (think the top of the funnel), execute touch-point campaigns to determine the value of each lead, and onboard those potential customers into your customer lifecycle. If the virtual assistant proves effective, you can begin to expand his role into new lead generation campaigns.
4. Research, Content Creation & Blogging
Thought leadership is something that gets thrown around a lot online, but the premise is extremely valid. As a small business, you want to be seen online as something who is an authority on your area of specialty. Whether that is accounting or the food service industry, you’re selling more than a good or service, you’re selling an experience. By creating value-add content around your product or service, you’re adding to and extending the experience for the consumer. Your virtual assistant can find the content to schedule in your monthly social media calendar, and he can create very quick and easy-to-consume content for your blog or those same channels. Take accounting as an example: 5 write-offs even salaried employees can file their taxes, how to get the most out of your IRA, best accounting software to file your taxes with, etc. — all would cement you as an authority on accounting while extending and personalizing the relationship with potential clients.
Bookkeeping might be the most important of all the tasks a virtual assistant can help manage. Keeping tabs on bills, invoicing, payroll and other financial matters is imperative to small businesses. By outsourcing your bookkeeping system to a virtual assistant, a small business owner can free up a significant amount of time each week. Not only are bills paid on-time, but you increase the likelihood of finding financial inaccuracies or issues a lot sooner. Giving access to accounts and passwords as it pertains to your business finances is a big step, but finding a virtual assistant who is able to remove the headache of bookkeeping can prove to be extremely beneficial to small businesses.
A good virtual assistant can be the difference between a productive and non-productive small business. By outsourcing administrative and non-core tasks through a virtual assistant or BPO, small businesses free up its time to maximize business efforts. Cost-effective business administration solutions are wildly available, and as a small business owner, you should definitely look into taking advantage of one.