Virtual Assistants: A Low-Cost Alternative to the Traditional Hiring
By Anita Dzebic
You are a small business owner or a recent start-up with limited capital. Your business is growing and you need help, but you don’t have the resources. You need to direct your efforts toward drawing a steady client base without having to worry about supporting a full staff. What do you do? It’s time to enter the exciting new field of Virtual Office Assistants.
Virtual Office Assistants are independent contractors who provide administrative, technical, and creative services for clients using telecommuting technologies such as email, teleconferencing, and instant messaging. They afford start-ups and small businesses the luxury of having the expertise of an administrative assistant without the hassle. Virtual Office Assistants are a growing trend among businesses needing to concentrate their efforts in cultivating clientele and generating profits. The growth of the trade has resulted in the formation of a professional organization, the International Virtual Assistants Association, which strives to develop standards of conduct for Virtual Assistants.
Virtual Assistants provide a cost-effective solution for businesses lacking adequate resources to hire and train the traditional administrative assistant. Companies can hire Virtual Assistants on a project-by-project basis with minimal cost, and have available to them a rich and talented pool of professionals worldwide with merely a click of the mouse. No longer necessary is the concern about salaries, benefits, employee training programs, workers’ comp insurance and payroll taxes. Drug and background checks, human resources, and regulatory upkeep are also eliminated. The overhead associated with leasing office space is eliminated as well, making this a truly attractive option in maintaining a business.
Several companies now provide Virtual Assisting services. One such company, Office Virtual Solutions (www.officevirtualsolutions.com), is based in Oakland, California. These companies provide transcription, word-processing, administrative services, bookkeeping and accounting services, marketing, research, executive time management, and an array of other services such as database management. Also offered are presentation services. They can offer technology to the entrepreneur at a fraction of the cost to it takes to buy these items.
Companies such as Office Virtual Solutions aren’t intended to replace your current staff. Instead, they offer ways to supplement existing personnel. Typical costs for a Virtual Assistant range from $20 to $50 per hour, with increasing rates for more technically-related projects. Entrepreneurs can easily promote growth without breaking the bank. The other nice thing about Virtual Offices is the ability to use them when you please; Virtual Offices can provide 24-hour assistance 7 days a week with any project.
The Virtual Assistant and the Virtual Office may be the next biggest thing in the era of outsourcing. Though a recent development, the Virtual Office has proven to be an effective tool for cost-cutting and keeping staffing resources flexible in a competitive and constantly changing marketplace. Finally, Virtual Assistants can provide a much needed hand when profitability is a must at rock bottom cost.