The term Virtual Assistant is a millennial concept that may sound both daunting and intriguing, especially for those business entrepreneurs and start-up business owners who were born in the eras popularly known these days as the ‘Baby Boomers’ and ‘Generation X’. The advent of the human VA concept was adopted from what originally began as software agents interacting with people, colloquially known as bots (from robots), such as chatbot in previous generations of text chat-based virtual assistants often represented by an avatar (a.k.a. ‘interactive online character or automated character), which is an embodied agent executing on a phone or other computing device. A software agent is a computer program that acts for, and on behalf of, a user that implies the authority to decide which, if any, action is appropriate. Software agents interacting with people (e.g. Siri), commonly known as digital virtual assistant, may possess human-like qualities such as natural language understanding and speech, personality or even embody humanoid form (e.g. Asimo).
Despite claims made by experts that digital experiences will achieve a weight status comparable to ‘real’ experiences, if not become more sought-after and prized, as verified by a high number of frequent users and the substantial growth of worldwide users of digital virtual assistants, the quality and the very nature of ‘human-touch’ services afforded by real human Virtual Assistants remain unparalleled by any form of digital experiences enabled by digital virtual assistants even with the major recent technological advances and most promising consumer trends according to a survey conducted by Consumer Trends for 2017.
Who would not ever crave for success in their business operations and activities? A no-non-sense small-scale business entrepreneur struggling to keep his focus on the essentials of running his business to meet his annual target in place, the solo business owners and many start-ups whose eye-balls are set on an early ROI (return on investment), or a small thriving company during a phase in a company’s growth where it does not seem viable to have an additional head-count to its workforce – only those who have the foresight and right tools in their business drawers would eventually manage to get down to the core of their businesses where they should really be focusing on to achieve their goals.
As more entrepreneurs brave the business arena, only those who have the right weapons in their arsenals get the glory in the fierce competition. Solo business owners, entrepreneurs, and other executives who have come out with crowns of success are those who have drawn out their weapons of victory. A virtual assistant is one such formidable weapon that can make that huge difference on how you run your business and help you define the outcome of your core business operations and activities. With the fast-paced developments on Information Technology (IT), virtual assistants have likewise evolved into highly-skilled and independent professionals/contractors, with a wide range of experience in their respective domains or niche, capable of remotely (in the absence of physical presence) executing administrative, technical and/or creative business support services to entrepreneurs and business owners.
As an entrepreneur, you are the owner of your business. You run the show, and not the business running you. By outsourcing and delegating non-core business tasks to a human Virtual Assistant (VA), you can save a significant amount of time and use it to your advantage to focus on the core business essentials, get your acts together on what you really do best, such as planning and implementing business strategies to keep you on track to accomplish both your short-term and long-term goals, channel your time and forte only on ‘growth-hacking’ activities. Virtual assistants can do more than just administrative or non-core business tasks. They can be your third eye and the third hand you always wish you could have but never thought existed. If you are a start-up business owner and juggling between hiring a full-time employee or a virtual assistant, without any doubt, the latter is the best choice to reduce your operating cost. Virtual Assistants are self-reliant professionals and independent contractors who have their own functional resources and office space to deliver what you need and when you need those tasks to be done. Since virtual assistants are highly-skilled individuals who work off-site, you do not have to spend money to train them. In fact, they are the answer to bridging skills gap in your organization. One of the biggest benefits derived from hiring a VA is the cost saving aspect. By working with a VA, you not only beat off routine business tasks, but you can save on the expense and nitty-gritty of hiring a full-time employee. This includes savings on the cost of government-mandated employee pay-offs and benefits, as well as, the amount of time, money and energy invested on training a newbie. With VA’s, your hands are literally free from legal obligations of paying for any company employee benefits. Much more, as independent contractors, VA’s are responsible for their own book-keeping and pay taxes themselves, or the agency sourcing them. The biggest benefit of hiring virtual assistants is that you can scale-up your business operations without any risk. As virtual assistants are paid on an hourly basis, you can hire them so long as you need them. However, in the case of having a regular employee, you cannot ask them to leave at your will, even in the absence of work activity, as your hands are bound by labor laws. Likewise, VA’s add flexibility to your business schedule by working for you on a different time zone so you can run your business 24/7. As the owner of your business, you are ‘the Potter’ and the virtual assistant being ‘the Clay’. You can mold VA’s to suit the way you do things by sharing your business preferences and objectives, by showing your business style of communication, and by educating them about your company/business culture and values. What is best, with brief introduction, they can start working the moment you hire them.
Admit it or not, the most common roadblock faced by solo business owners, entrepreneurs, and other executives on outsourcing tasks to human virtual assistants is really not an issue on investing time and money, but the potential risks to one’s privacy and business affairs upon investing trust to a VA. It is hard to let go of the reins and let someone else take over your business carriage because of trust issues that might compel you to get stuck on the uncertainty that hiring a virtual assistant may not at all prove to be a true ‘lifesaver’. While there may be a host of daunting risks you might see on your plate, you can certainly brush it aside considering the concrete benefits you can very well obtain from actually hiring a highly-skilled professional virtual assistant that far outweigh your fears – real or not. By offloading your routine, time-consuming, non-core business tasks, a virtual assistant can literally add hours to your day and life affording you a healthy and balanced lifestyle, more time with your family, catch up with friends, meet new clients, explore new business opportunities, and a whole lot more you never thought was even possible on your own.
– Jose Mari Mercader