Managing your time is vital to scaling your start-up successfully opens in new window, so hiring an extra pair of hands can pay off.
Starting your own business remains as popular as ever, with 222,068 firms opens in new window incorporated between January and March this year.
Many new companies are launched by individuals or small teams, typically with skills or experience opens in new window relevant to their business offering.
Many, however, lack the budget to hire a dedicated resource to help organise day-to-day activities – from arranging meetings to handling calls and a diary.
Technology such as broadband, video conferencing, and cloud-based tools allow start-ups to hire virtual assistants when needed.
Discover more about managing people with our free Managing and managing people course opens in new window, with teaches you managerial effectiveness, the skills required and how to develop management skills.
As part of our Learn with Start Up Loans opens in new window partnership with The Open University, our online course is free to join, delivered by experts and includes a free statement of participation on completion.
What is a virtual assistant?
A virtual assistant is a remote worker specialising in supporting businesses.
They often work for several companies simultaneously, which helps keep costs for each business lower than hiring a dedicated assistant.
Virtual assistants can help with administrative tasks such as diaries, event management, and organising travel.
Virtual assistants can be experts at what they do and can hit the ground running, providing insightful support without any hand-holding.
Virtual assistants work remotely, so there’s no need to provide workspace or equipment; they can work as little or as much as you require.
How can one help my business?
Hiring a virtual assistant may help free up time so you can focus on more pressing matters.
As they typically work freelance, they can also be highly flexible and fit their work into your schedule.
It may also help keep start-up costs down opens in new window, as you pay a virtual assistant only for their work hours or tasks completed.
You won’t have to pay for holidays or sick leave, provide extensive training, or buy new equipment and workspace.
What are the benefits of a virtual assistant?
Mundane, back-office admin tasks can take up a surprising chunk of time.
A qualified virtual assistant can bring a wealth of experience and expertise to your start-up.
Many virtual assistants can efficiently complete administrative tasks, and some offer specialised social media, PR opens in new window or event planning skills.
Hiring a virtual assistant can be cheaper than employing a full-time assistant, reducing overheads and freeing up cash to invest in other activities, such as marketing opens in new window.
Running a start-up can feel like a 24/7 commitment.
Taking time to focus on your wellbeing opens in new window can benefit your business.
Work-related stress opens in new window can lead to bad leadership, poor decision-making, and decreased mental health.
A virtual assistant can help free up time that would have been spent on admin tasks, improving your work/life balance.
How to get started with a virtual assistant
It’s essential to hire a virtual assistant who fits well with you, your team and your start-up’s mission.
It also helps to consider how pivotal the role will be.
Entrusting a virtual assistant with access to your company’s activities, contacts, and finances is a big step.
Be sure to vet any virtual assistant service, especially if they have access to customer data.
Where to find a virtual assistant
Virtual assistant agencies may have a roster of experienced, qualified virtual assistants who can easily match a suitable candidate to your needs.
There may be data protection risks in using a virtual assistant depending on what personal data they will have access to.
Organisations such as the Society of Virtual Assistants opens in new window have a set of standards its members adhere to, such as being registered as data controllers with the ICO opens in new window.
It’s a good idea to always take expert specialist advice before sharing any personal data of customers, staff etc with a virtual assistant
Consider asking your professional network for recommendations, and online freelancer forums can be helpful.
Platforms such as Fiverr opens in new window can expedite the hiring process with search filters, including price, location, and skills.
Before beginning your search, knowing precisely what skills you are looking for and the tasks you want to cover makes sense.
Consider too if their role may develop in the future.
This can help tailor your search for a virtual assistant and shorten the selection process.
Keep it efficient
Remote interviews opens in new window allow you to speak to more candidates in a shorter period, and having a pre-prepared list of questions and talking points can help compare answers.
You may consider having candidates complete a test task that demonstrates their abilities beforehand.
Conduct trial runs
After making your selection, doing a trial run with your selected candidate could be a good idea.
This will help you gauge how well they fit with you and your team and how they handle the required tasks once they understand your needs better.
A trial run may last as little as a week or as long as a few months, depending on the tasks and your budget.
This period could be treated the same as a probationary period for a new full-time employee, so a contract that included details such as pay and end date would be required.
Thinking of starting a business? Check out our free online courses in partnership with The Open University on sustainability in the workplace.
Our free Learn with Start Up Loans courses opens in new window include:
- Effective communication in the workplace opens in new window
- Managing relationships opens in new window
- Succeed in the workplace opens in new window
- Leadership and followership opens in new window
Plus free courses on climate and sustainability, teamwork, entrepreneurship, mental health and wellbeing.
Reference to any organisation, business and event on this page does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation from the British Business Bank or the UK Government. Whilst we make reasonable efforts to keep the information on this page up to date, we do not guarantee or warrant (implied or otherwise) that it is current, accurate or complete. The information is intended for general information purposes only and does not take into account your personal situation, nor does it constitute legal, financial, tax or other professional advice. You should always consider whether the information is applicable to your particular circumstances and, where appropriate, seek professional or specialist advice or support.