You may have heard the term “virtual assistant” or VA before. But there are two kinds of virtual assistants:
A Digital Virtual Assistant
This type of VA may be embedded in your smartphone, a software-based artificial intelligence, such as Google Now, Apple’s Siri, or Microsoft’s Cortana. It may provide you with directions to the local convenience store, search the internet for information, or even make restaurant reservations.
A Human Virtual Assistant
This type of VA is a real, live person, like any other assistant. However instead of taking up room in your office and using your equipment, your virtual assistant is at the other end of the phone/video conference, and the other side of your computer.
A live, full-time employee is not only a member of your team, but also a responsibility for you as a business owner. A virtual assistant is there when you need them, and not around when you don’t. You’ll feel the difference in efficiency, and in cold, hard cash.
What Can a Virtual Assistant Do?
That’s a loooooonnnggg list. The short story - because small business owners rarely have time for the long one - is that a virtual administrator can take off your plate those tasks that aren’t fun, and aren’t the reason why your business will be The Next Big Thing. (That part is all you.)
You created your business because you are good at your thing. You excel at it. We like to call you an Artisan Business Owner. You are not a jack-of-all-trades. You’re a Master.
Many businesses fail, not because they are bad at their thing, but because they aren’t any good at the stuff that isn’t their thing. And really, why should they be? That’s not what will get them where they are going.
It’s often stuff that doesn’t directly produce revenue which really stops up an Artisan Business Owner. It could be calendar management, scheduling, process creation, marketing (online and off), letter and document writing, systems management, graphic design, research, follow up, document and data management, invoicing, bookkeeping, communicating with suppliers, understanding and maintaining cloud based services…all that damned et cetera.
How Much Does a Virtual Assistant Cost?
A single VA can cost anywhere from $5 an hour for offshore assistance to somewhere near the moon for specific types of expertise. For example, at Admin Slayer, bookkeeping or graphic design Slayers typically cost more than a generalist who handles day to day admin work.
Most Admin Slayer clients will tell you that they get everything they want done, by professionals who collectively would cost the business hundreds of thousands each year, for less than the cost of hiring one full-time, entry-level employee. That’s the key.
What makes this work is the things that you don’t pay for:
- Breaks, vacations, and inefficiencies (for example: the black hole that is Facebook)
- Pension contributions, employment insurance, and other employee benefits
- Training and education upgrades
- Time that you don’t use, such as when your business is in slow season. You only pay for active work.
An Admin Slayer costs more by the hour than an entry-level administrator and still costs less than an entry-level administrator. How does that work? We’re so glad you asked!
An entry-level administrator will spend more time completing tasks, and requires significant guidance, training, equipment, and a place to work. All these things cost more than the $15 - $20 per hour that you believe you are paying. On top of that, they are dependent on your commitment to their income. You will need to train them, support them, cover them on sick days, and replace them if they leave. Entry-level administrators always leave. Unless they’re awful.
As we like to say at Admin Slayer (and definitely stole from Red Adair): “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, just wait until you hire an amateur!” Your business deserves professionals.
A good virtual assistant should be able to account for every minute of their time that is billed to you. At Admin Slayer, clients receive a weekly timesheet. So even though the rate is per hour, time is measured in minutes, not hours.
Virtual Assistants Save Money & Increase Revenue
We wouldn’t think it was such a good business model if it didn’t work for our own businesses in the first place. We test every single thing we do on ourselves first. If it makes sense to us, we know it’ll make sense to you.
In the hard world of bootstrapping entrepreneurship, we’re often focused pretty tightly on the bottom line. If you work in Vancouver or Toronto, for example, you know exactly how expensive it is to both work and live in the city. We know that too - some of us live in Vancouver. We’re proudly cheap as all get out. But being cheap - correctly - means going deep.
Spending money to make money means making enough money to make it more than worthwhile.
A virtual assistant usually comes with zero infrastructure costs. You don’t pay for office space, equipment, or other overhead that can eat into your profit - or worse yet, your line of credit.
With all the annoying, low-value tasks off of your desk, you can focus on the higher value tasks. If you trade all that low value time for high value time, what happens? You make money.
Here’s an example (costs are not exact - but they are realistic):
Pierce is a business owner. He spends 25 hours a week developing his business and working on the stuff he really likes. This earns his business about $4,615 every week.
Pierce also spends 30 hours a week following up on information that’s outstanding, booking appointments, creating invoices, bookkeeping, and more.
Pierce hires Annie, a virtual assistant. She completes the tasks in 15 hours per week - because she’s a pro - and costs $750 per week.
Pierce now works 40 hours a week instead of 55, but only focuses on revenue-growing tasks. He increases his revenue by $2,769 per week and pays Annie $750, netting $2,019 more in revenue every week.
Pierce’s revenue (minus Annie) is now $6,634, a 43% increase, and he works 15 hours less per week.