Outsourcing of services is not exclusively for large corporate business – it is a practice that can benefit business operations of any size. The benefit of outsourcing could reflect not only in reduced overheads, but also in improved productivity.
Some businesses need to have full-time employees for certain functions, but many small and medium businesses don’t always have enough tasks to keep full-time employees busy all of the time. This is compounded by the burden of having to manage the additional administrative functions:
- Health Insurance
- Social Security
- Vacation Pay
- Sick Days
Having a Virtual Assistant eliminates this, allowing you to focus on growing your business and serving your clients.
What is a Virtual Assistant?
Virtual Assistants are independent entrepreneurs specializing in providing professional support. Virtual Assistants offer a variety of services, ranging from administrative tasks to creative services, technical support and even marketing services. Working from their own offices, Virtual Assistants communicate with you and complete tasks via telephone, fax and Internet, all on a contractual basis.
Finding a Virtual Assistant is almost as easy as using Google. The International Virtual Assistants Association (IVAA) and the Administrative Consultants Association (ACA) are two professional organisations you could use, though many Virtual Assistants have their own professional websites through which they can be contacted, or you could even use VA Networking or Virtual Assistant Forums. Deciding on whether to limit your search to your city, State or country is entirely up to you, though you must have a clear idea of what you would want the Virtual Assistant to do. Are you looking for someone with a strong background in marketing, administration, social media or website management? With Virtual Assistants charging per hour, and only working when needed, it is possible to hire several virtual assistants with each focusing on a different aspect of your business needs. You could have one virtual assistant designing all your marketing material, while another only manages your website and social media sites.
Virtual Assistants are able to do more in less time, with some averaging less than 20-hours per client, per month. This alone can reduce your overhead considerably.
Elance, Guru, oDesk and Get a Freelancer are four of the most popular online marketplaces. These are all excellent resources for finding independent, or freelance, contractors for certain services, especially short-term or once-off projects, including:
- Website Development – It is no longer effective to simply have a website, especially not a static website. Your website needs to be professionally designed, promoted and maintained. Using online marketplaces you will be able to find professionals who can manage all of this, along with optimizing the website for better visibility and placement on search engines, increase website traffic, and even manage your e-mail marketing.
- Website Content – Closely linked to the above, your website needs to be updated regularly, with relevant content posted to your company blog. Content writers are able to provide excellent copy for your blog that is professional, relevant and designed to attract visitors.
- Marketing Materials – Easily find professional, and cost effective, designers for all your marketing materials – presentations, brochures, marketing kits, newsletters. All your design and layout requirements can be addressed using online marketplaces.
- Printing – Is your local printer too expensive? Are they no longer able to service your needs? Find a freelancer who is able to, and you may even discover that despite them not even being in your city, they are more competitive.
- Copywriting & Translation – Professional sales letters, monthly newsletters, press releases and even manuals are what copywriters specialize in, and their services needn’t be prohibitively expensive. Translators are just as accessible for when you expand into new, foreign markets and need to have your existing materials translated accurately.
- Marketing & Sales – Need assistance in identifying or targeting the right audience? Using online marketplaces you can find professionals who can assist you with market research before helping with business planning based on the results. They will be able to assist you in creating compelling messages that appeal to the right audience and drive sales, and you can even find and use lead generation specialists and telemarketers.
- Administration – Typing, formatting of presentations, travel and event scheduling, or simple data entry are just some of the tasks you can outsource to administrative experts via online marketplaces. You will discover they are even well suited to managing mailing lists and bulk mailings.
- Audio-Visual – Whatever your AV requirements are, you will certainly find a professional able to deliver; everything from high-quality video filming to post-production, online streaming and even voice artists.
The online marketplace provides access to a very diverse range of skills and expertise, including finance and billing support and even legal services. Most of the online marketplaces allow you to create a project and invite suitably skilled professionals to bid on your project. This adds to the convenience of using them, since you don’t need to search through hundreds of portfolios before contacting dozens of possible candidates. Instead, after your project closes you can draw up a shortlist of suitable candidates based on their cost and delivery time-frame.
Small and medium businesses are frequently operated from a home-office. This is convenient and very cost-effective, but what happens when you need to meet with a large group of clients at once, or even do a group presentation? You use a temporary office, or virtual office.
Premier Business Centers, Alliance Business Centers and HQ Corporate Headquarters are just three sites providing access to temporary office space. Through them you are able to rent fully serviced office space and meeting rooms whenever necessary. All amenities are provided, often including a reception area and receptionist. The three companies listed here have a national presence, though there are many others operating exclusively within certain cities.
Any of the above resources can have a significant impact on your business, both financially and in terms of productivity. You would need to evaluate your specific needs before deciding which of the resources to use, though a combination may give the best results. Outsourcing, and specifically virtual assistants, have become increasingly popular over the last few years, and with good reason. It is convenient, reduces overheads, gives you access to a pool of talented individuals, and the savings in costs and time can be used towards growing your business.
About Out of the Office Virtual Assistance:
At Out of the Office, we are committed to providing earth-friendly administration and offer ideas and ways to increase your productivity, decrease your workload, and work more efficiently. We nurture a successful business relationship, while continuing to grow as your business partner. We are focused on streamlining your administration, social media planning and execution, and offering creative solutions for your business success.
Image credit: BPO OUTSOURCING by Richard Blank | CC BY-ND 2.0