The magic of outsourcing

GigSuper partner, Rosie Shilo, has been running her Virtual Assistant business, Virtually Yours, since 2004. With all this experience under her belt, we thought we'd ask her to share everything she's learnt about the wonders of outsourcing.

Let’s face it, running your own business isn’t always easy. It can be hectic, hard work and incredibly time-consuming. But what if I said to you that extra time was available and could be the answer to the life/work balance conundrum? 

I spend a lot of time talking with business owners, freelancers and self-employed Aussies and the one common thread that runs through all our conversations is this need for more time.

My answer is always the same – hire a VA. 

What does a VA do, exactly? 

VAs can do just about anything – and they do. The type of VA you need really depends on what sort of work is holding you/your business back.

  • if you’re finding updating your blog page to be something that takes up too much time, then get a VA who specialises in website management.
  • if you’re constantly interrupted by phone calls and can’t get into the work you need to be doing, get a VA who offers reception services.
  • if you need to manage your client lists and be clearer about who does what and goes where – get a VA who loves working with CRMs (Customer Relationship Management Systems).

If you need all of the above, look for a VA who does all 3 or hire a couple of VAs – just have one main VA reporting directly to you.  

Things to know about working with a VA

1. Even though you can’t physically see your VA, they are there! Clear communication is vital for any successful VA/client relationship, so make sure you find a VA who likes to  communicate in the same way you do – whether it be via email or phone.

2. VAs are independent contractors (much like a plumber or your accountant), so they manage their own business and will invoice you for projects or time spent working with you.

3. You may have to share your VA. VAs work with a couple of clients – and this is a good thing. Why? Well, a VA needs to work with a number of clients so they are not considered an ‘employee’ of a client. The VA isn’t relying on you solely for income so there’s less pressure on you to make sure they have constant work. A VA can also enhance their skills by working with more clients. What they don’t learn from you, they will learn from another client. And in turn, there will be an overlap of skills.

4. The VA needs to have the equipment, software, skills and time to support you, which in turn saves you time and money. And as with any contractor, this should all be clearly outlined from the start. If you have a customised program or product they need to learn, you may need to provide the software and/or time to learn it – this would be the same as if you had someone in-house working for you.

5. A VAs objective is to work with you to ensure your business achieves as much as it can.

Working with a VA can take some getting used to because you’ll need to let go of some areas of your business, and that’s hard for some people. But for your business to take the next step, you need to do it. Having confidence in your VA makes this a little easier. 

How do you find a VA?

In Australia, there are a couple of networks which list Virtual Assistants in a Directory and you could, of course,  just Google ‘Australian Virtual Assistant.’

OR you could come to us at Virtually Yours 😉

I always advise people to have a chat with a couple of VAs who offer the services you need, and see who you think is a good fit.

Think about things like:

  • do they have the sort of work style you like?
  • how much experience do they have?
  • how do they like to communicate?
  • what do they charge and how do they charge?
  • do they sound like someone you’d like to work with?

It’s usually a case of interviewing a few shortlisted VAs and seeing who feels right. 

Paying your VA

Initially, most VAs will ask for some level of up-front payments for their work. This is purely a safety measure. 

Some VAs offer retainer plans, which are usually based on the number of hours worked, while some invoice per project. It can depend on the type of work.

And remember, a VA's work is tax-deductible.

What’s a VA going to cost? 

VAs generally charge anything upwards of $30 per hour. And they’re worth every cent. Some VAs charge up to $200 an hour for consulting or specialised services – it all depends on what you need. They are also worth it.

Think about the cost as being relative to what your time’s worth. What’s the best income you could be making each hour in your business? If you were working on a task that brings in the most money, what’s that worth per hour? Is it more than your VA? Is the VA going to work faster than you would?

So for example, if you work out that your time is worth $120 per hour and you are spending your valuable time on an administrative task – e.g. creating a Facebook competition using the Facebook approved applications – and this takes you 3 hours to do, you have just cost yourself $360. 

If you hire a VA to do the work for you and they know how to do it efficiently and effectively, they may do it in 2 hours at $50 per hour. So the project costs $100. 

Total cost of the project: $360 - $100 = you make $260 for work you didn’t have to do. 

Suddenly $50 an hour for some extra time on the business or to spend time doing something you love seems like a total no brainer! And I agree, you’re right, it is.

Head on over to Virtually Your's GigSuper partner page to read more about the work Rosie is doing and to discover more about her partnership with GigSuper.