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Why Virtual Assistants are booming


Barnaby Lashbrooke

Founder and CEO of Time etc, author of The Hard Work Myth

9 minute read

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If you visit Upwork and search for the term “virtual assistant,” you’ll see thousands of profiles of people who offer various VA services.

If you visit Guru, you’ll see over 77,000 profiles, and on PeoplePerHour, you’ll be able to connect with over 5,000 virtual assistants.

It’s safe to say that virtual assistants are booming.

But what’s behind this shift? Is it possible that virtual assistants are just that good?

They certainly are, but there are many reasons why entrepreneurs and small business owners around the world flock to platforms and premium virtual assistants services like Time etc:

Workforce Is Going Remote

If you feel like the pandemic gave an extra push to remote working, you’re absolutely right. Even if it was unimaginable not to have to travel to work every single morning, the set up is now becoming normal.

But here’s the thing: remote work was popular even before COVID-19 struck.

FlexJobs’ Remote Work report showed that the remote workforce has grown 44% over the last five years. Over the previous 10 years, the remote workforce has grown 91%.

The best part? Remote workers love their jobs! A recent study showed that even the people who switched to remote work during the pandemic want to keep working remotely.

Is Remote Work Just a Trend?

Let’s look at the numbers:

This research primarily pertains to remote but full-time employees. But when you work with virtual assistant freelancers and premium virtual assistants services like Time etc, you’re cutting your costs even more as they’re not full-time employees.

And with the pandemic showing more and more companies just how beneficial remote work is, it’s not going anywhere.

Successful Entrepreneurs Have Assistants from the Start

There are only so many hats you can wear, and so many things you can juggle in the span of 24 hours. It’s why entrepreneurs are often heard complaining that “It’d be much better if the day lasted 48 hours” so they could get everything done.

Since that’s not an option, you have to delegate.

As Jesse Sostrin writes in the Harvard Business Review, “To be a great leader, you have to learn how to delegate well.”

Are you really the only person who can write tweets, handle payroll, or perform other everyday tasks? You can find someone equally qualified so that you don’t have to expend the mental energy. Save it for tasks that only you can do.

This is why assistants are the first hire for a lot of successful entrepreneurs.

And today, more and more entrepreneurs are starting to realize that they need an assistant.

Otherwise, they get bogged down by tedious work, and unable to focus on strategy and tasks that can really grow their businesses.

Why Do Successful Entrepreneurs Need Assistants?

Tony Robbins learned the value of having an assistant when he was young:

“I could be doing something that’s so productive and I’m standing in line at the dry cleaning place. (...) And so my view is I don't do anything that someone else can do better, and I don't do anything that isn’t the highest and best use of my time.”

Back in the day, his only option was hiring someone (either full or part-time). Today, you can just outsource work to a virtual assistant, and you’ll pay them per productive hour.

While your virtual assistant is filtering through your email, handling admin work, or managing your online presence, you can focus on meaningful tasks. Ultimately, this significantly increases your productivity.

Think about it this way: if you somehow got one extra hour in the day, how much extra value would that bring to your business?

By delegating your work to a professional virtual assistant, you’ll be able to scale without stressing about all the minutiae on your to-do list.

The Workload vs Success Disparity

Did you know that small business owners work longer hours than anyone else?

In fact, New York Enterprise’s report found that 33% of SMB owners work more than 50 hours per week, and 25% of entrepreneurs said they work more than 60.

But does the increased input result in increased output, i.e. do small business owners and entrepreneurs earn more money because they work longer?

Unfortunately, no.

Only 33% of small businesses make it to their tenth birthday. And the strain of overworking doesn’t just impact the bottom line. It also negatively affects your relationships, priorities, and mental health.

The most common reasons for SMB failure are:

  • Nonexistent market or poor product-market fit
  • Poor management
  • No social media presence

Coincidentally, a great virtual ssistant can help you with all of these. So not only are you eliminating (tedious) work from your plate, but you’re able to increase your output and earn more money.

How Do Virtual Assistants Help Entrepreneurs?

Virtual assistants don’t just specialize in admin work - booking flights, filtering emails, handling payroll, and so on.

In fact, a lot of virtual assistants have specific areas of expertise, which can include:

  • Digital marketing (preparing and executing campaigns)
  • Social media management
  • Customer service
  • Project management

And more!

It’s just a matter of identifying what you need and then meeting the perfect virtual assistant.

Don’t Need Full-Time Support? No Problem!

The main problem, that Tony Robbins also touched on, is that most entrepreneurs don’t need full-time support. A lot of them don’t even have offices, launching their exciting businesses from their kitchen tables.

The Costs of Hiring a Full-Time Assistant

Hiring someone to work for you 8 hours a day is a huge stretch if you’re just getting started. And it comes at a high cost.

Currently, the average experienced salary for a full-time executive administrative assistant in the US exceeds $50,000 annually.

That is quite a lot of money if you’re starting a new business. In general, the 1-10 employees phase is a difficult one for many businesses. Your workload is scaling, but you may not be able to justify another $50,000 salary just yet.

If you have full-time employees, you also have to manage, motivate, and work on retaining them.

The reality of the situation often outweighs the benefits.

It’s why the founder’s assistant is often the last full-time role hired, even though it’s one of the most important.

Why Is Hiring a Virtual Assistant Better?

Virtual assistants, on the other hand, are paid per productive hour. They can work as few hours as you need them to.

Just need a virtual assistant to take care of a few tasks, two hours per day tops? No problem.

Need a virtual assistant to help you manage everything related to your business? No problem.

The set-up is very flexible, which allows entrepreneurs of all kinds and stages to get the help and support they need.

Finding the Right Virtual Assistant Isn’t Easy

Unfortunately, finding the right virtual assistant isn’t easy.

Entrepreneurs normally put off the task because they have to sift through thousands of profiles on freelancing platforms like Upwork, hoping to find the right person.

So even if entrepreneurs know where to look, they still have to vet potential virtual assistants and make sure their skills are the right fit.

Not to mention the whole aspect of managing them!

It’s a lot of work, so premium virtual assistants services like Time etc can be a great way to streamline the process and get the help you need without adding more tasks to your overflowing plate.

What Can Virtual Assistants Do for You?

If you still have the image of a traditional secretary who just takes calls and plans meetings in your mind, it’s time to expand the scope.

Modern virtual assistants do more than plan your trips and handle your emails. As we said, the best virtual assistants have the skills you need so that you don’t have to outsource your tasks to dozens of individuals:

Virtual Assistants Take Care of Administrative Work

This is a given.

Your virtual assistant can schedule your trips, take your calls, manage your emails, take care of your bookkeeping, and even help you manage your day-to-day routine so that you get the most out of your day.

Virtual assistants are very organized people - they have to be. And by working with them, their organizational skills can help you.

Virtual Assistants with Social Media Skills

It’s paramount to every business to have a social media presence. While enterprises can get by posting a few tweets every week, small businesses and entrepreneurs need to raise awareness about their services and products from the get-go.

Now, you could struggle to come up with and schedule your social media posts, or you could hire a professional.

Fortunately, many virtual assistants offer community and social media management services so that your leads and customers don’t feel left out.

Your virtual assistant will collaborate with you to create interesting and engaging social media posts that generate leads on auto-pilot. They can also engage with your prospects, take care of your DMs, and even...

Virtual Assistants Can Manage Customer Service

Depending on the scale of your operations, your virtual assistant can also handle customer service.

They can respond to your customers’ questions and follow up with them, create helpful knowledge base content, handle complaints, and more.

This gives you a lot of time to focus on new growth initiatives!

Can Virtual Assistants Run Marketing Campaigns?

Some of them certainly can!

Many virtual assistants have a background in marketing which allows them to create great marketing campaigns that will generate leads and customers for your business cost-effectively.

This includes market research, as well. If you don’t have the time to gather and analyze feedback from your customers, your virtual assistant can take care of that.

And since poor market research is one of the main reasons why small businesses fail in the US, a good virtual assistant can help you make sure that your product fits the market.

Virtual Assistants Can Create Content

How long does it take for you to research, write, edit, and publish a great blog article that will reaffirm your authority?

Chances are, it’s not just an hour or two.

While blog content is necessary for SEO and general authority, it’s often a time-suck for entrepreneurs and small business owners. Especially if you don’t have a background in writing.

Fortunately, a lot of virtual assistants do.

So not only can your virtual assistant help you handle the minutiae, but they can also help you promote your business and establish an excellent reputation with engaging and valuable content.

And More!

Virtual assistants have incredible skills that you can use to give your business a boost - even beyond freeing up your schedule.

It all depends on what you need your virtual assistant to take care of:

  • Do you have tasks that are very important for your business, but you don’t have the necessary skills to complete them?
  • Do you have tasks that are important, but not a priority?
  • Do you have tasks that are important, but you can never get around to completing them?

In that case, identify them, and find the virtual assistant who has the right skills!

Virtual Assistants Make Your Business (and Your Life) Better

Ultimately, virtual assistants offer an affordable, easy, and turn-key way to get the support you need. You’ll feel less stressed and more organized without having to worry about employing someone full-time.

And if you’re not sure where to start (or don’t want to jump through hoops to find the perfect assistant), turn to premium virtual assistants services like Time etc.

We look after every detail so you can finally delegate, step back, and achieve more.

It’s more than worth it.

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About the author

Barnaby Lashbrooke is the founder and CEO of Virtual Assistant service Time etc as well as the author of The Hard Work Myth, recently recommended by Sir Richard Branson. Barnaby is a Forbes Columnist on productivity and is also an accomplished entrepreneur, selling more than $35 million worth of services.

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