Are you one of those people who sometimes struggle to recognise when you need help? Do you get to the point of desperation and start making hasty decisions? One of the challenges when setting up and managing a business is the burden of your time, and where you should be placing your priorities. Virtual administrators (VAs) can help lighten your burden, without a large financial outlay on staffing.

An excellent VA works with you, not against you. You need to be able to trust your VA. They may challenge your ideas, but this is helpful to give you another perspective on your thoughts. Ultimately YOU have the final decision, but VAs are there to help you move forward. There is no point struggling forward with a VA it doesn’t suit you or your needs. Depending on the VA, they may already know your field or industry, so don’t be afraid to ask for someone who already knows something about your area, but if they don’t, most skills are transferable and the VA will quickly learn.

When looking for a VA make sure you find someone that you’re comfortable with. VAs have a range of skill sets and may specialise in particular tasks.  Make sure you’re comfortable communicating with them because you’re going to need to be able to convey your requirements to this person and let them see you exposed, worried and anxious, as well as cheerful, positive and excited.

When you feel overwhelmed, take the time to think about what your priorities are. Consider how much time you spend on small for administrative tasks that you can outsource very quickly and easily. If you haven’t read my blog article J is for Juggling then I recommend doing that after finishing this article.

There are a number of tasks that you can outsource such as social media setup and development, advertising, logistics, equipment to name a few. Do you really want to spend hours sourcing equipment and stationery? For more expensive items, weigh you your time and effort versus a couple of hours of someone else who is used to sourcing doing it for you. A VA can also help you with researching your client base and utilising opportunities for promoting your business.

Special VAs can assist with setting up your financial bookkeeping and records, develop processes and procedures for paperwork and also physically be on site if necessary to assist with services, office setup (if required) and so much more. They have spent time gaining qualifications to be able to provide these special services.

Please don’t wait until you are months or possibly years into your business and struggling to ask for help. A VA can be there from the outset to help source software and work with you to develop processes and procedures that you will use for years to come. If you take the time to automate much of your systems, you may not need much admin support in the future, therefore saving you cash in the long run. Take your time with the important stuff such as marketing, products/services strategy and development – these will need your time and attention.

You do not need to have a VA physically with you, or indeed full-time (full-time is approx. 37 hours per month). If you think of the process of hiring – if you bring in an administrator to work for you as an employee you will need to prepare a job spec, advertise, interview, negotiate a package, have the employee accept the offer, set up taxes and payroll, wait for the notice period, purchase equipment, train the employee, and more. You need to be assured your employee is delivering, and if not, start the process again.

If you look at hiring a VA, you still need to have an idea of the job spec, but you take out a number of elements such as advertising and hiring, time delay, equipment, training, taxes and payroll. A VA is in charge of their own taxes and will invoice as agreed with you. They have their own contracts so you don’t need to do more than read, discuss, agree and sign. VAs spend their own time training and have their own equipment. You can often get a VA within a day or so of you enquiring if your needs are urgent at no extra cost than the VA’s hourly rate. Many VAs offer deals for more hours purchased a month, so take advantage of this.

Don’t be fooled by cheap offers. The administration industry is grossly misrepresented in terms of costs and expectations. Rates will be from around £25 per hour for a new VA to £35 per hour for a very experienced VA. Many VAs have been in administrative roles for years and have transitioned to be business owners so you should feel confident you’re getting someone who knows what they are doing.

If you don’t know where to start, that’s what VA companies like Blue Ninja Business Support are for. The lead VA will talk you through your issues and develop a plan with you. VA’s are a very collegial community so if your VA can’t answer a question immediately, they will be onto their networks to find out and will be honest with you about what they know and don’t know.

Don’t wait until you’re desperate to ask for help. If you are struggling, don’t hesitate! VAs help others, it’s what we do, and we understand it can be hard to take that first step, but we are here for you. We want to support you and help you to succeed.