Running Your Business

Are the Benefits of a Virtual Assistant Worth the Cost?

  • A virtual assistant is like a receptionist/personal assistant who works remotely
  • The average virtual assistant charges $18-$35 an hour
  • You can find virtual assistants on Upwork, freelancer.com, and virtualassistants.com

Posted by June 6, 2018

Are you so tied up with busy work that you don’t have time to actually run your business? A virtual assistant could be the solution. These are online professionals you can hire to manage some of your administrative work. We take a look at the benefits of a virtual assistant so you can decide whether they’re right for your business.

What Does a Virtual Assistant Do?

A virtual assistant is like hiring a receptionist or personal assistant, except they don’t work in your office. Instead, they work remotely so you only contact them through phone or email. A virtual assistant can handle all kinds of work. Some common tasks include:

  • Answering your emails
  • Preparing and sending out invoices
  • Handling your social media accounts
  • Doing web research
  • Data entry
  • Booking your appointments and managing your schedule

There is such a range of virtual assistants that you can likely find one willing to do nearly any task.

How Much Do They Cost?

Most virtual assistants charge by the hour. The average virtual assistant charges between $18 to $35 an hour, according to Upwork. However, you can find assistants willing to work for less. Since you can hire people from anywhere in the world, you can find international assistants willing to work for much less, though the quality of their work may not be as strong.

Other assistants prefer a fixed rate, for instance, you pay them $1,000 a month and they’ll lock in 10 hours a week for your work. You negotiate the rate when you hire.

What Are the Benefits?

One of the main benefits of a virtual assistant is that you’re hiring a contractor, not an employee. You don’t have to give them benefits or pay FICA taxes on their behalf so it’s much less expensive. You also only hire them when you need work, especially if you hire someone by the hour. When you don’t need them, you aren’t paying them. Finally, since there are so many virtual assistants out there, you can find someone who specializes in the work you need.

Are There Any Downsides?

Communication can be a little more difficult when you hire a virtual assistant. Since the person isn’t in your office, you need to track them down by phone or email. It can be even more difficult because your assistant could be in a different time zone or even a different country.

There is also a wide range of quality in virtual assistants. If you hire someone, especially at a low rate, they may not be dependable or qualified to handle your work. Finally, it’s a short-term commitment on both ends versus hiring an employee. There’s always the chance your assistant could leave on short notice and leave you scrambling.

How to Find an Effective Virtual Assistant

A good place to start is on freelance websites like Upwork and freelancer.com. You set up a job post on these websites explaining what you’re looking for and virtual assistants put out bids for your work. These websites can also track the time the assistant works for you and handle the billing. What’s also nice is that past clients rate the virtual assistants so you can see whether someone has done a good job before.

You can also look for someone on websites made specifically for virtual assistants, like virtualstafffinder.com and virtualassistants.com.

Is It Worth the Cost?

It depends on the value of your time and how effectively you use your virtual assistant. If you estimate that using an assistant will free up more of your time for high-value work, like finding new clients or working on projects, it is worth the cost. For example, you estimate you make $50 an hour on high-value work. It would be well worth hiring a virtual assistant at $20 per hour so you can free up more hours for higher-paying work.

These relationships work best when you’re willing to train your assistant. They need to understand how to do the work properly for your business. You can’t just hire someone and expect them to read your mind.

By investing a little effort to find and train the right person, a virtual assistant can be well worth the cost. They will free up time in your busy schedule so you can spend all your energy on growing your business.

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