Toks Coyle is a virtual assistant.
We caught up with Toks at #kickstart-dublin and asked her what VAs do, how to know when you need a VA, and how to decide between bringing on a VA or an in-house employee.
Find Toks at toks.rocks
It’s hard to pinpoint what a VA does, because VAs are not all the same.
It can range from email management, data entry, writing, tech support, social media—various things like that. Generally they’re an administrative professional, and they’re usually a freelancer as well (or they own their own business) and they provide admin services for business owners on a contracted basis—so rather than being employed, they’re doing it as a freelancer.
A lot of VAs have their specialism; it’s usually around admin, but some people are not so much based on admin either, so it just really depends.
You could be a one-man band, there could be a few of you, you could maybe even be like a bit of a team already—but basically, you usually need a VA when you’ve got so much admin happening in your business that it’s taking you too much away from what you need to focus on, like your core services, so that’s a good time to think about outsourcing.
What I think it’s best to do first is to see if you can automate some things, because that can actually be cheaper than hiring someone, and that will still save you time and money. But then if you get to a point where there are obviously still a lot of tasks that still need to be done by someone, that’s when you bring in a VA.
I recommend having a good think about specific tasks you need to outsource as well, because a lot of VAs, like I said earlier, have different skill sets. Not every one of them could do all the same stuff. So the more you can think about what you need, the better, and then it makes it easier for you to find the right VA for you.
A VA is usually self-employed, or you contract them. If you need a flexible solution, they’re quite easy to use either on a retainer basis or just an “as and when” sort of thing. I think the point where you might be better to have someone employed is if you are consistently needing someone for more than 20 hours a week or so, and you need them really embedded in the business, because a lot of VAs might not want to work with someone that many hours anyway because we like to have a few different clients, to not have all our eggs in one basket. And if you need someone for so many hours, it may be better to employ.
It also depends on the type of tasks, as well as how much experience and skill set they need.
There are definitely some tasks that you could give to an intern at a lower pay. If you think it’s something that needs a bit more expertise, then I would definitely recommend thinking about someone that’s a bit more professionally experienced than that, and paying a bit more.
I’d say it depends on number of hours and how much you want them, how flexible you need them, what experience you need from them, and how embedded you need them to be in your business or not.
And then, with employees, there are all the employee benefits you’ve got to pay, so you’ve got to see if that’s cost effective, because sometimes there might be a point where that’s more cost effective than a freelancer. So that’s just something you’ve got to look at.
Toks Coyle @toks
Hello. I’m a virtual assistant to fab creators and businesses doing good