Hiring a virtual assistant is becoming more and more popular. But why? Because there are some very strong advantages to hiring a virtual assistant over hiring someone locally.
First of all, just what IS a “Virtual Assistant”?
A virtual assistant is someone who works for a client, but from a remote location. For instance, you may own a small (or not so small) business in Chicago, and your virtual assistant works for you from his or her home in Los Angeles. Or maybe somewhere outside the US … say, in India or the Philippines.
A virtual assistant can communicate with her client in a number of ways: by email, by online instant messaging (such as Yahoo! IM, Skype, ICQ or any number of similar services) or by telephone. In addition, services such as Skype make it possible to communicate in real time by typing, voice (using a headset), and even visually using a webcam… and at no cost (except the small cost to purchase a headset and webcam).
A virtual assistant (sometimes called a virtual secretary, virtual executive assistant, or virtual office assistant) can perform almost any task as someone working for you in the next room, including (but not limited to):
- Human resources
- Concierge services
- Travel arrangements
- Follow-up on invoices that are past due
- Data entry
- Word processing
- Making appointments
- Arranging meetings for you
- Event planning
- Letter preparation
- Transcription tasks
- Managing your email
- Handling reports & spreadsheets
- Formatting and sending newsletters
- Live Instant Message support
- Telephone support
- Personal assistant tasks
- Data processing
- E-mail processing
- Taking phone calls
- Procedure documentation
- Placing orders for you
- Handling support by email
- Processing orders
- Administrative duties
- Follow-up with customers
- Manage freelancers
- Managing your schedule
Wow… now that’s a long list!
But can a virtual assistant (or VA) make coffee for you? Sorry… no. If you want someone to make coffee for you, you’re out of luck (LOL).
Of course, if making coffee and picking up your laundry are essential tasks you want someone else to perform, then you could always hire someone locally. But why would you NOT just hire someone locally in the first place? Just what is the advantage of hiring a VA anyway?
Well, there are several.
For one thing, she will have her own computer, desk, furniture, office supplies, utilities, and communications equipment. You won’t have to buy those items for her, nor will you need additional office space for your virtual assistant.
For another, your VA may well be willing to accept a bit less pay, because she doesn’t have the expense or the hassle of transportation to and from a regular “job.” It saves her time, money, and frustration! So in the end, she comes out ahead, even if the pay is a less.
Hey, who wouldn’t be happy with such an arrangement?
But, probably the biggest advantage to hiring a virtual assistant is so that you can take advantage of something called “Arbitrage.” Arbitrage, simply put, is the practice of taking advantage of a price differences between two markets. For instance, suppose you live someplace like New York City, where the cost of living is very high (compared to the rest of the country) and your VA lives on a farm in Iowa, where the cost of living is a lot lower. Because $10 there may purchase twice as much goods and services as $10 in New York (and perhaps “twice” is even a conservative estimate), your VA will, again, be willing to accept less than you would have to pay a local hire.
But what if your virtual assistant lives outside the USA altogether… say, in India, Romania, Pakistan, the Philippines, or some other country where English is a secondary, if not primary, language?
Now here’s where the advantages really begin to happen! The American dollar goes a lot farther in many other countries than in America. For instance, in the Philippines $50 will buy a month’s worth of food. How far does $50 go where you live? If you’re like me, you go to the grocery store, buy 2 bags of groceries, hand the cashier two twenties and a ten, and get back a handful of change!
“But… ” as they say in the TV ads “wait… there’s more!”
Taking advantage of arbitrage is only the beginning. You’ll also avoid the expense… not to even mention the headache… of payroll taxes, tons of IRS forms, providing health insurance, worker’s comp, social security taxes, retirement contributions, and all the myriad legal requirements associated with labor compliance laws. Why, you don’t even have to pay an accountant to do all that stuff!
Starting to get the picture?
If you’re the owner of a business, and are stuck in the “Catch 22″ of desperately needing help, but unable to afford it… a virtual assistant may be just the ticket!
By Jim Eastman
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