For over 15 years I worked with an assistant who came to my home office and helped me with the administrative side of my business. When I moved away from the area 18 months ago, I lost her services.
I had two choices: look for another administrative assistant nearer to my new home office, or delve into the world of “virtual assistants.” A virtual assistant does not come to your office. Instead he or she works from their own office and assists you via phone, internet, fax, and email.
When I looked through the list of all the tasks I wanted an assistant to perform, there was no reason why this person couldn’t be located anywhere in the world. After careful research I hired an assistant who lives 2,500 miles away, and although we’ve never met in person, we’ve formed a strong foundation which helps my business run smoothly.
The Benefits of Using a Virtual Assistant
There are many benefits of using a “virtual” assistant versus bringing an assistant into your home office.
- You don’t have to share your computer, or set up a second computer, for the assistant to use. A VA uses his own equipment and computers. In addition, you don’t have to set up an extra desk in your office for an assistant.
- Instead of having a fixed schedule of hours each week, with a VA you only pay for the hours you use.
- You can hire a VA to work a specific numbers of hours per month on a retainer which guarantees availability. Some VAs work on a per-project or per-hour basis as well.
You can find VAs with specific skill sets, from certified QuickBooks specialists to those with graphic, internet, marketing, or technical skills.
- VAs own their own business, so they know what it’s like to be self-employed.
- A VA works as a consultant, not as an employee. Therefore, you won’t have to pay employment taxes or benefits for your VA. (It’s critical that you understand the government rules about employees versus sub-contractors; in the USA, check out the IRS website for the rules www.irs.gov).