Advice on Hiring a Virtual Admin Assistant For Your Business

Advice on Hiring a Virtual Admin Assistant For Your Business

Cressida Johns Business Advice

Are you looking to add a virtual admin assistant to your small business? Before you do, learn the true benefits of hiring a virtual admin assistant and how you can use them correctly to maximise your business efforts.

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A virtual assistant gives assistance from a remote location. Because the assistance is remote, tasks are generally completed digitally-not in person or on-site. Assistance can be varied, perhaps categorising emails, research, data entry, social media updates, accounting, competitor analysis, calendar planning, editing sound/videos, recruiting… Most of the tasks handled by a virtual assistant are admin-related, non-critical, and very often are not customer-facing. Many entrepreneurs are backed by quality virtual assistants, freeing up their time to spend on the critical tasks for their business.

Typically a virtual admin assistant is self-employed (freelance) so they can work for multiple clients. As virtual admin assistant is self-employed, they don’t have the same rights as employees, so for a business, it means less paperwork, forms and taxes to complete. It also means that the work the virtual assistant does should be 100% on tasks – unlike a full-time employee in your office, you don’t pay them for water cooler chat or just for looking busy. With a virtual assistant, you just pay for what they do.

Most commonly used by businesses, especially entrepreneurs/solopreneurs, virtual assistants have become more and more popular over the last 15 years. Tim Ferriss gave the virtual assistant industry a big kickstart by advocating their usefulness in The 4 Hour Work Week in 2007. For location independent entrepreneurs, a virtual assistant has become seen as a “must-have” so your business can run while you’re not there, and it fits perfectly into the “work from anywhere” ethos.

Virtual admin assistants are known by lots of different terms, the most popular is simply an abbreviated version of the words, VA; as in “I need to hire a VA!” or “can anyone recommend a VA?“. They are also often called a virtual office assistant or virtual personal assistant. Some people call it outsourcing – “I need to outsource my admin!“. These are all variations on the same thing, there is no real distinction between them, they are all virtual assistants.

Why Hire A Virtual Admin Assistant For Your Business?

A virtual admin assistant is commonly seen as just for “entrepreneurs”, or those people who always seem to be “busy”. I don’t quite see it like that and I think anyone who is running a business and wants to have a higher standard of living should probably hire a VA.

The bottom line is that a VA can help you grow your business, stop you from working on tasks that aren’t helping your business succeed, and free up more of your time. Whatever your business is, I bet this is true. There are things that you are doing that are not driving the most value for your business – these are the tasks that you need to outsource.

Your time has value. So if you earn £200,000 a year, and work 40 hours a week, your time is worth £100 per hour. If you pay a virtual assistant £20 per hour to complete admin tasks you would normally do, you have essentially made £80 for doing nothing.

Maybe the money you make only comes from 50% of your working hours – i.e. the revenue-generating tasks. You could outsource all your non-revenue generating tasks to a virtual assistant. Using the same numbers as above, the same 40 hours of work per week, you can make £400,000 a year. It costs you £20,000 in payments to your virtual assistant, but you’ve increased your income by 90%, without working any harder. Alternatively, you could just work 20 hours per week and still earn £200K per year and spend the rest of the time at the beach. Either way, it makes sense to stop doing busy work.

How Much Should I Pay A Virtual Admin Assistant?

Don’t start comparing wages to office workers or general employees. There is a massive difference. You can hire a full-time admin worker in the UK for around £17K ($22K USD) per year, maybe £20K ($26K USD) in London. That’s an hourly wage of £8.75 ($11.20) and £10.20 ($13) respectively.

So why would you pay £15, £20, or £25 per hour for a virtual assistant? I can hear you now – “£25 per hour, that’s nearly £50K per year!!

Now think about that full-time admin worker again. Where are they working? You need an office – that’s rent, electric, AC, heat, food, cleaning. All money. And when they are in the office, out of an 8-hour workday, they are probably working for 4 or 5 hours. The rest of the time is toilet breaks, getting distracted, listening to employee chitchat, checking Facebook, swiping on Tinder.

Oh, and don’t forget that you now need to do payroll (you need an accountant), pay taxes for the employee (money and time), pay national insurance (money and time), get insurance for employees (more money), write an employment contract, give holiday pay, sick pay, give notice periods, do HR tasks, deal with employee rights….

In fact, most accountants say that the true cost of an employee is actually 1.8-2x more than the wage you pay. This is a great calculator – the true cost of an employee. So when you hire someone at £10 per hour/ £20K a year, the true cost is actually £20 per hour and about £38K per year. And that’s just someone on minimum wage, with maybe with no experience.

So paying £25 per hour for someone experienced, focused, working on purely the tasks you tell them too, without any of the additional crap to go with it, sounds like an absolute bargain, don’t you think?!

Small businesses that are making less than my £200K per year example probably need to adjust their scope a little – I’m not advocating £25 per hour as a standard wage for a VA.

Instead, work out what you make (or want to make or expect to make) in a year, then divide by 40 (hours) x 52 (weeks) (2080) to work out your hourly earnings. Try and find a VA for less than 50% of that. That seems fair and to be good business sense. An example calculation:

£50,000 – the money you want to make each year
40 – hours worked per week
52 – weeks in the year
40 x 52 = 2,080 hours per year worked
50,000/2,080 = £24 per hour
50% of 24 = £12 per hour to pay your VA

Don’t Forget – Know What You Want From Them Before Hiring!

This is one of the worst and most annoying mistakes I see. A busy entrepreneur thinks “I need help, I’ll hire a VA” and immediately writes a “VA wanted” job advert. They have no idea what tasks they want to be done, how the VA will help, what skills they need – nothing! This person is a time-waster. The kind of person who organises meetings with other people and in the meeting starts researching the topic of the meeting. You know the type of people I mean. Don’t be that person.

You need to have a good idea of what you want to be done before looking. By spending some time to analyse your own work, you will see how a VA can help, what type of VA you need, and that you have enough tasks on a regular basis that warrants a VA working for you.

Essentially you want to list all the tasks that you do that aren’t directly contributing to your revenue/growth, list how much time each one takes you to do every week and then how many times per month you need it done. Your final time figure is roughly how much time you need from a VA. Here’s my method of doing this:

  • For one or two weeks, make a note of every single task you do in your working day and how long each one takes
  • After the two weeks, assign categories to each task – something like: type of work (revenue-generating or admin), repeat time, unique
    • ‘Type of work’ is revenue tasks (those that directly earn you money), or admin tasks (non-revenue tasks)
    • ‘Repeat time’ is upon the schedule a task is repeated – daily, weekly, monthly, or maybe it was a rare task, a one-off
    • If a task is ‘unique’, this means that every time it’s done it will be different, it’s not easily repeatable or requires further knowledge
  • Use filters to show non-revenue admin tasks that repeat and are not unique – these are the easiest to delegate and are the basic tasks for your VA
  • Non-revenue admin tasks that are unique might not be worth delegating, or might require more training – so put these as advanced tasks for your VA
  • Revenue tasks should be focused on by you, more time doing those then more money coming in

Good luck!

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