Running a small business or one man band is tough, especially when you have to wear so many hats. You need an accountant and tax hat, a VAT hat if you qualify for value added tax, a marketing and search engine optimisation hat. Plus hats for credit control, record keeping, database creation and maintenance, a sales hat… the list goes on.
If you’re a small business owner you probably took the lone route because you’re passionate about what you do, are very good at it or just love it. None of which qualifies you to run every aspect of a business. It means you’re grimly determined to make it work, won’t give up and know your market inside out.
So how do you cope with these different and disparate roles? An increasing number of small businesses are taking on virtual help.
Some VAs and virtual PAs work exclusively by email and phone, independent suppliers across the globe. Some work in teams, employed in places like the Philippines, excellent value for money. They’re usually supported by all-singing, all-dancing project management systems and Degree-qualified, which means the quality of work is high. Others work locally, able to pop in to your premises for briefings and to carry out physical reorganisation and rationalisation of your workspace and systems in person.
How to find a reliable virtual PA or virtual assistant? Your first stop is word of mouth. If you’re a networker, ask your offline or online network for recommendations. Second, go online and search for a provider with the best references. Some offer free trials, handy for making an informed decision. Others have flexible pricing structures so you can start off with just a few hours a month and add more as you steadily hand over more tasks to your VA.
Whatever your choice, it’s your responsibility to brief your VA or VPA in detail so they know the ins and outs of any project perfectly. Someone good will only need telling once and once you’ve built up a solid relationship they’ll be like gold dust, well worth the investment because they free you to innovate, create, sell more and grow your business. Which is what you’re best at.
Great VAs can handle all this stuff and more:
- database creation, maintenance, cleaning and management
- correspondence – from invoices to standard business letters
- look after your diary and calendar to free up your time and energy
- manage your emails for you, weeding out the rubbish so you only have to deal with the good stuff
- help you create marketing campaigns
- do your invoicing and help with credit control
- keep spreadsheets, filing and records in order
- arranging travel and meetings
- project management
- sales support