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Outsourcing and Virtual Assistants – the real story

Virtual delegation, or outsourcing to virtual assistants, is all the rage at the moment. Online gurus are telling you that it’s the ‘smart’ way to run an online business, and that the more you invest in virtual assistants, the more time you’ll have to yourself by freeing your daily schedule of all those annoying little jobs that need doing. Why not get someone else to do it for you? Why not call in the services of a virtual assistant? It seems a reasonable idea – but is it as smart a business move as you think?

The truth is that, as much as it may be tempting to outsource everything from day one, it does mean that your fragile new business is dependent on the efficiency of others – and that could very easily go wrong. It also eats into the start-up fund and those all-important initial profits. In the first few months you may only make a very small profit (if any profit at all!), and paying out for outsourcing services or virtual assistants could wipe out that tiny margin completely. So the first piece of advice is at this early stage in your business’s life – do as much as you can yourself.

That includes things like book-keeping and accounting. There’s plenty of easy to use, intuitive software out there that makes this task an easy one, such as the excellent accounting software by Intuit. It may be tempting to pass your book-keeping over to a virtual assistant from the get-go, but by doing it yourself you could save yourself a wedge of cash and keep a much closer eye on the ins and outs of your finances at ground level.

So are there any advantages to Outsourcing and virtual assistants?

In the early stages of your business, billing, accounting, invoicing and even printing your own stationary can be done ‘in-house’, without having to rely on others. Ask yourself – do you really need to pay someone to answer your emails for you if you’re only getting a dozen a day? Of course not – you are perfectly capable of staying on top of things at this stage. It may mean a few extra hours a week working through all those essential aspects of the business, but it will save you money when you can least afford to spend it.

However, as business picks up, you can start thinking about a little help or outsourcing one mundane aspect of your business to a third party. The best idea is to set yourself a target – once you start making $5,000 a month, you may then consider that you are able to afford to hire a little extra help.

Once you’re ready to get yourself a virtual assistant, check online to find sources such as Craiglist, Guru.com and TaskUs.com. But remember, the business that grows slowly sticks around, so play it smart and make sure you really do need a virtual assistant before you spend your hard-earned profits hiring one. You don’t need to build up a big team of virtual assistants from the outset, and in the same way you wouldn’t hire ‘real’ workers unless you absolutely needed to, don’t hire virtual assistants until you reach the point where you really can’t ‘do it yourself’ anymore!

This guest post is courtesy Carlo Pandian. He is a tutorial writer on Intuit Australia accounting software. He also blogs about small business, technology and tax tips, and loves helping entrepreneurs promoting their products online.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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