How much do you value your time?
Is your business growing at the rate you’d like it to?
Are you struggling to execute big-picture ideas because you’re spending hours on the smaller stuff?
Do you feel like everything is on your plate?
How could your business grow if you outsourced all of those minor tasks?
Think about how many hours per week you spend doing administrative duties like planning your schedule, answering emails, and even price watching. What would change if you stopped spending those hours on clerical tasks and instead used them to make sales calls, update your branding, provide higher quality customer service, and expand your business?
What would you do with more hours in the day?
Virtual assistants have become the solution to this problem. In a growing technological world, executives and business owners are finding success by outsourcing tasks to VAs.
This is especially true for online businesses, such as e-marketplace sellers. You could be running an online business as a one-man show—but is that what’s best for your profits? Virtual assistants are a great way to maximize time and energy, especially since you primarily function online anyway.
Whether you’re looking to expand your business or simply have more time to spend with your family, you may find that a virtual assistant will have a strong return on investment for your Amazon, eBay, or other e-Commerce business.
What Is A Virtual Assistant?
A virtual assistant (VA) is a contract or freelance worker that usually does administrative tasks similar to a secretary or executive assistant. They function remotely online, so you could be based on the east coast and have a VA on the west coast—or even overseas. They can be hired per project or per hour, and they can be used in the short-term or long-term.
For example, if you’re going through a busy season, you could hire a VA in that time period to write client thank-you notes.
You could also hire a VA to act as a long-term “team member,” who does a certain number of hours or tasks per week. These virtual assistants are similar to secretaries in that they are dedicated and invested in your company—they simply work from a different space. They also usually work part-time or flex hours, so you are not paying them a full-time salary.
Why Use A VA?
The virtual assistant industry has been booming in recent years. In 2015, freelancers on Upwork earned over $1 billion dollars alone, according to Pearson, Upwork’s senior VP of marketing. In fact, Virtalent predicts that by 2018, the VA industry will be worth $5 billion in just America alone.
Firstly, the cost of labor is cheaper, and the employer only has to pay for the specific work being done (or the time it takes to do that work). They don’t need to pay for a secretary or assistant who may be sitting on a portion of the day without anything productive on their plate. Generally, employers also save money on benefits and healthcare, since they are contracting out to a VA rather than hiring an employee full-time.
Employers also love the flexibility of a VA job description; VAs can do a variety of tasks and have a variety of proficiencies. The virtual assistant industry provides improved access to top talent right at your fingertips. There are thousands of potential VA freelancers available for work, especially as the industry continues to flourish. Through an online platform, you can find exactly the right candidate for a given task. Do you need someone funny who has experience in writing about car parts sold on Amazon? You might not find that in your local area, but you’re sure to find that person out there in the worldwide web and VA community.
Virtual assistants can also give your business a new perspective. Although they’re on the company payroll, they’re not necessarily “in the trenches” with you. In this way, they can give you an outsider perspective, often functioning as a part-time remote catalyst of change.
And of course, giving tasks over to a VA saves you time and allows you to focus on your business’ most important needs.
What Can A Virtual Assistant Do For You?
As the virtual assistant industry continues to grow, so does the number of duties and skills that VAs can perform. In fact, you can find a virtual assistant for pretty much any skill or task.
But rather than giving everything over to a VA, you should consider which tasks you should and should not delegate. If you are an online seller, you should maintain ownership over those responsibilities that focus on business growth, client satisfaction, and branding. Anything that is not directly related to customer experience can go to a VA. (As you begin to integrate your assistant into your team, though, they can begin to take on even more responsibilities with regards to client-facing tasks.)
Here are some examples of common virtual assistant roles:
- Data entry
- Data presentation creation
- Email and message management
- Scheduling appointments, invites, etc.
- Planning events
- Social tasks like writing thank you notes or wishing customers a happy birthday
- Article writing and SEO research
- Online shopping
- Hiring other freelancers
- Researching competition, travel plans, customer experiences
- Researching and reporting new potential business
- Photographing and writing blurbs about your products
Amazon Seller Tip: Although you can use software apps for competitive price comparing, a VA can create comparison reports from a “customer” perspective with regards to the Buy Box and listing optimization.
How Do You Find A Virtual Assistant?
Before hiring a VA, make a list of all the tasks you would like to outsource. From there, consider if any of those responsibilities require specialized proficiencies. For example, do you need someone who can create PowerPoint presentations for investor meetings? Or do you need someone who understands the vacuum industry inside and out? Or do you want someone who can find great deals on airplane prices? Create a loose job-description for your future VA to better understand whom you want to hire.
Knowing who you want to hire will help figure out where and how to look for them.
Below are some of the popular sites to find virtual assistants and freelancers:
- Zirtual: They hire a collection of college graduates who are professionally trained and proficient in productivity suites. Zirtual ensures you always find the perfect VA for you.
- Upwork: This is a freelance website with virtual assistants, freelancers, writers, and more. You can post a job description or find candidates by a filter. It’s a great way to have a list of proposals from quality assistants.
- com: Elance functions similar to Upwork in that it shows you a list of freelancers who can do a variety of tasks.
- Virtual Assistant Assistant: This site is owned and run by Nick Loper, an influencer in the VA world. VAA searches through all of the different platforms of virtual assistants to give you access to hundreds of potential candidates in a single search. Check out their blog for some useful tips about saving time and money with virtual assistants.
You can even meet potential virtual assistants face to face. Even though they work remotely, a lot of the best VAs will attend conferences that relate to their preferred types of jobs. For example, a VA who specializes in Amazon research might attend the Prosper Show to network with Amazon sellers.
If you decide to hire a virtual assistant, make sure that you pay them enough. Do a calculation based on what you would expect your return on investment to be. Remember that even though your VA isn’t working for you face to face, he or she is still an employee of yours. The less you pay, the lower quality work you will get. If you pay well, your assistant will be more willing to stay with you for the long haul and commit to your business’ overall success.
The Bottom Line
Even if you have a small budget, utilizing a virtual assistant can have a huge return on investment. Delegating tasks to VAs with appropriate proficiencies will get the job done quickly and efficiently so you can focus on the needs of your business.
The more time you spend on your business, the more growth you’ll see in the future.
Have you considered outsourcing to a virtual assistant but want to work with someone who is skilled in online marketplaces specifically? Seller’s Choice Managed Services is a useful resource for you to outsource certain tasks, like listing creation, product photography & renderings, and even fulfillment infrastructure. Choose an experienced, trusted company to assist you in developing your online business.