People who open up shop on the internet are in for long hours. So many are brought into the fold by the allure of being their own boss, making their own hours, and easy money. But this, they soon realize, is not often the reality that greets them. The truth is that in this arena, competition is steep and the anonymity of the internet can be very alienating and counter intuitive to your sales and professional goals. So many think that they can combat these obstacles on their own, but the smartest and most successful individuals realize very quickly that they need help.
Sometimes this help can come from others in the field, mentors perhaps. It can come from friends and prior business partners. It can come from new relationships established through hours and hours of networking and involvement in niche communities. And it can also come through more traditional means – or traditional means with a new twist.
Hiring employees is not every business owner’s dream, but oftentimes it is a necessary allowance to further a business venture. New hires can bring professional experience, new skills, and specialized help to the table. But hiring a full time employee – or even a part time employee – may not be what is most necessary.
A virtual employee is a hire that you can find online, working from anywhere in the world. There are even some that are 100% United States based, but they are few and far between. Finding a quality virtual assistant or team of virtual assistants is an excellent way to ensure the success of your business ventures.
Here are just 10 examples of ways that a virtual assistant can help your business run more smoothly.
1. Automation – One goal of almost every Internet entrepreneur that we encounter has been to automate their business. That means that with the least amount of effort on the part of the business owner all of the day to day operations can be completed. Customers will receive their emails, their deliverable or purchased goods, monies will be collected, and so on. Everything that needs to be done to keep a business running smoothly. Often just these operations can take up 30% or more of a business owner’s time. Meanwhile, these are tasks that can easily be documented and delegated to individuals that are trustworthy and have experience in these matters or can be trained to do them with relative ease.
2. Product Development – Sometimes, business owners have one of those great ideas, but lack the skills or time to get it off the ground. Virtual assistants come from all sorts of backgrounds. Many are college educated and have worked in a number of fields. Business owners can struggle to do everything or they can delegate the items that require more specialized skills like writing, editing, data entry, graphic design, web development and many other items to individuals that are more experienced in these roles.
3. Customer Service – Customer satisfaction should not be thrown to the wind because a business operates on the web as opposed to in a brick and mortar establishment. In fact, it’s even more important for an online based business to concern itself with producing nothing but loyal, satisfied customers than one that has a physical presence in the outside world. An online business that hides behind the anonymity the Internet allows is in for a rude awakening. It’s so easy these days for dissatisfaction to spread like wildfire over the social networks and consumer review websites. But as business owners are so busy – especially online business owners that have even more on their plates – they often let this important tenet fall by the wayside. By enlisting the help of a virtual assistant with the ability to bring concerns to a close quickly, a business can be more respected, experience more growth, and even more retention in their client base, as well as the all important repeat business. Find a virtual assistant you trust to be ambassador of your brand and let them help you where it really counts. More often than not a virtual assistant can even act as a receptionist and helpdesk, answering calls, emails, even online chat, which makes your business more efficiently able to take on new business and new clientele.
4. Research – Virtual assistants are perhaps the most apt Internet researchers on the planet. They know how to quickly navigate the search engines and web sites to find exactly what they’re looking for with grace and ease. They can cut the time a business owner spends searching for things online in half while taking the task completely off of their shoulders. A virtual assistant can help you investigate your market, find what your competitors are doing, explore new business ventures, and find cheaper ways to do what you are already doing or the best way to do whatever is to be accomplished. Whether it’s finding a cheaper web server, a faster way to share documents, the flight that will get you to the convention on time and for the least amount of money, an easier way update your website or blog, or a new ecommerce system, a virtual assistant is ready to scour the world wide web to find it.
5. Process Creation – A business is only as good as its processes. It’s about efficiency, after all. Finding the right way to get things done quickly and correctly every time, consistently. By creating business processes, a business opens itself up to a world of growth. Once processes are created, it becomes easy to incorporate them into the day to day operations, pass them to new hires, delegate more easily, and even one day franchise the business, or even create an empire! If growth is a business’ goal they won’t get there without proper processes in place that standardize all business practices and make an efficient, timely, and precise machine.
6. Work Overflow – In this today’s market, the future even from week to week can be unpredictable. And this holds many businesspeople back from the very thing that we are talking about – hiring on those that can help. Why spend the time training and working with people you may not need a month from now? Next month could be quite quiet by comparison, yes, but what about the month after that? A business that is not prepared for sudden changes in their workflow can set themselves up for failure. This can overwhelm what staff you have, can alienate your loyal customer base, and can cause a huge headache. Some virtual assistants or teams of virtual assistants have a monthly retainer and some even allow rollover of unused time to the following month. By enlisting this person or people today a small business can plan for tomorrow. The future may be uncertain, but what is for certain is that when the time comes that you need this extra help, you’ll be glad that you have it.
7. Organization – What makes a virtual assistant so dependable is that they are almost always some of the most organized people you’ll ever come across. It’s their job to keep everything in order so that when you need it, there it is. So many business owners we encounter are among the most disorganized people we’ve ever met. The reason is that business owners are the visionary people that have the idea and the means to pursue it, but not necessarily the discipline to keep a clean house. That’s where a virtual assistant can come in. Virtual assistants are comfortable with anything from organizing a messy email inbox with labels and filters to calendaring your day to day life with a taxonomy that is easy to learn and follow. They are project managers at heart – some of them even PMP certified – with the knowledge and wherewithal to know that everything must go in its proper place to ensure that everything is there when it’s needed and that nothing gets lost in the shuffle. They can help you go paperless, they can help you organize your file server. Anything to help a business become more productive.
8. An Extra Set of Hands – Simply put, a business needs bodies. Things need to get done. These may not require any special skills at all; they may be fairly basic items that just need doing. But they need to be done correctly. They need to be done as efficiently as possible with as little responsibility placed on the business owner as possible. Well, that’s something else a virtual assistant or a team of virtual assistants can help with. Whether it’s simple data entry, or fulfillment of mail order packaging, or a list of names that need to be called, or appointments that need to be scheduled – that’s what a virtual assistant can do. Running a business is overwhelming enough without having to deal with the small odds and ends. It’s all about business owners who want to use their time as efficiently as possible and there’s no reason to do everything on your own.
9. An Extra Head – Believe it or not, a virtual assistant is more than just a person who is always by the phone, always in front of their email or their chat client waiting for you. Often, they are business owners, themselves – or have worked with many business owners over the years. This makes them a real resource to you. Whether you just want someone to bounce ideas off of, or if you want someone to counsel and coach you to reach your goals, you can turn to your virtual assistant. Virtual assistants are often very comfortable dialoguing with their clients about new ways to approach ideas and solving real problems. They are devoted to their client’s success because the client’s success is their success.
10. Not an Employee – Perhaps one of the favorite aspects of hiring a
http://www.longerdays.com”>virtual employee to many a business owner we meet is that this person is not an employee. That means that you don’t have to worry about paying them overtime, worrying about filing tax forms, paying for sick days and benefits, insurance, worker’s compensation… With a virtual assistant you can get all the benefits of an extra set of hands, and extra head to turn to, someone to organize your business and projects, someone who will be there to support the growing and/or fluctuating needs of your company, optimize your business processes, conduct research, provide excellent customer service, develop new products and bring new business, and completely automate your business without the headache of hiring a physical employee. Today more and more businesses are discovering that getting things done is easier than ever. And more often than not they attribute this accomplishment to finding an able virtual worker that they can depend on.