How virtual assistants can help small businesses stay open past their first year
For many entrepreneurs, there aren’t enough hours in the day to scale a business. The US Bureau of Labor claims 20% of small businesses fail during year one, half close before year five, and only one-third remain open by year ten. Could the recent trend toward hiring virtual assistants turn the tide of small business failure?
Small businesses are turning to virtual assistants
Time is the commodity small business owners need more than anything else. More and more entrepreneurs are reclaiming this valuable asset by hiring virtual assistants. Virtual assistants handle administrative tasks from remote locations—sometimes even halfway around the world.
Technology capable of supporting remote work has existed for years, but it took a pandemic and global lockdown to accelerate the trend. A survey from Nanoglobals reports acquiring virtual assistants through offshore agencies increased 41% in 2020,
One entrepreneur shares the power of virtual assistants with other small businesses
Working remotely is the norm today, but it was still a novelty a few years ago. Craig Goodliffe was one innovative entrepreneur who jumped on the bandwagon early.
In 2012, Goodliffe placed an ad for administrative help. As a real estate agent, he wanted an employee who would post homes on classified websites, delete them, and then repost them the next day to gain more attention. He sold homes in Utah, but he took the risk and hired an assistant from the Philippines.
Thanks to help from his virtual assistant, Goodliffe’s business flourished, and he began mentoring other entrepreneurs. “As I coached them, I started noticing holes in their business,” recalls Goodliffe. “They just didn’t have enough help to support their clients.”
A friend’s turmoil prompted Goodliffe to start Cyberbacker in 2018. Like Goodliffe, she ran a real estate business, but unlike him, she was close to burnout. “How are you running a business and taking your nights and weekends off?” she asked. “I’m working from sunup to sundown, seven days a week to do the same job you’re doing.”
After Goodliffe helped his friend secure a virtual assistant, other colleagues approached him with similar needs. Over the following months, he transitioned away from real estate to become CEO of Cyberbacker—a company recruiting and training virtual assistants in the Philippines for small business owners in the US.
During the company’s first year, Goodliffe placed 100 virtual assistants. “It took off so quickly,” Goodliffe recalls. “So far, we’ve created 2,074 jobs and counting.”
Entrepreneurs need to delegate the menial tasks
Every small business owner begins with purpose and vision. Unfortunately, daily tasks often take precedence over long-range planning. Successful entrepreneurs are those who can break free from minutiae to focus on the big picture.
Remote virtual assistants, like Goodliffe’s cyberbackers, can accomplish any jobs that don’t require certification or a physical presence. They take care of administrative functions, including responding to emails, answering phone calls, accounts receivable, accounts payable, data entry, and scheduling appointments. In sales, they tackle transaction processing, transaction coordinating, lead management, and lead follow-up. They even handle technical projects such as SEO, social media, graphic design, web design, social media management, and video editing.
“There’s a useful formula every small business owner should know,” says Goodliffe. “Performance equals potential minus interference. My assistant is constantly watching my tech. If you send me an email, Jen will vet it because email is a distraction. Facebook messages, text messages, and emails are all interference. If you can get someone to handle your interference, you’ve won the game.”
Many small business owners get bogged down trying to do it all. Effective entrepreneurs delegate menial tasks to competent assistants to dedicate their time to strategic planning and growth.
Virtual assistants offer time-saving expertise to small businesses
The market for virtual assistants has become adept at catering to the needs of small businesses. Virtual assistants specialize in a range of technical skills, including marketing, bookkeeping, accounting, copywriting, social media, and human resources.
“My virtual assistant, Jen, is incredible,” says Goodliffe. “I can go the whole day without touching my keyboard. If I tell you I’ll do something, she puts it on my to-do list, and it’s guaranteed to get done.”
Most small business owners start by deligating administrative tasks to their virtual assistants. They are comfortable relinquishing duties such as email correspondence, data entry, and scheduling. As the partnership develops, however, virtual assistants become more and more integral to the operation of the business.
Virtual assistants make part-time or full-time help financially possible for small businesses
Entrepreneurs often know they need help but are hesitant to hire a full-time in-house employee. Tax requirements, employment contracts, and benefit packages can prove daunting for someone new to the business world. Many of the agencies that hire virtual assistants manage all of these hurdles for small businesses.
Because starting a small business is such a financial investment, many small business owners aren’t in a position to hire in-house employees for the first crucial years. Fortunately, virtual assistants offer an enticing solution. “
There’s a cost savings in hiring a virtual assistant from an agency like Cyberbacker,” Goodliffe remarks. “The 2019 gross national income per capita in the US was $65,000. The gross national income per capita in the Philippines is less than $3800. When you look at the fantastic people you can hire from the Philippines, the savings are astounding.”
Starting a small business is no small undertaking. While the odds are stacked against aspiring entrepreneurs, virtual assistants have become the solution for many. High-quality help enabling small business owners to delegate menial tasks and work distraction-free is more in reach than ever today, even though it’s oceans away.