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2007-01-30 09:31:00

Virtual Assistants and Virtual Support in 2007

By Daniel A. Shlifer

Human resources outsourcing is growing at an average annual rate of 30%, according to the National Assn. of Professional Employer Organizations. While this figure applies primarily to large corporations and organizations, this practice has spawned a whole new industry of outsourcing that is well-suited to small- to medium-sized businesses as well as the larger ones: virtual assistants.

Today’s virtual assistants come in many forms and offer a variety of support services. A virtual assistant, or virtual support, has proven to be a natural match for the independent business professional. Since hiring staff and all associated responsibilities rarely makes sense for the one man/woman operation, it is often more logical to have an “on call” virtual team.

Imagine having a staff of 1 to 10 on an “as-needed” basis that can handle all of the loose ends of your operation, freeing you up to tend to your critical business activities? Another benefit of utilizing this type of support is experience. A good virtual support firm has years of experience in supporting the business professional. This way the learning curve is kept to a minimum and you have a reliable team providing support in very little set up time.

Virtual support firms can specialize in everything from accounting and bookkeeping to marketing and technical work. Here are just a few examples of the type of tasks for which you might want to consider virtual support:

  • Newsletter distribution
  • Web site creation/maintenance
  • Time-consuming research projects
  • Database management
  • E-Commerce

While a single project completed by a virtual support firm may be higher in cost than what would normally be paid to in-house staff members, the savings are immediately evident when one reviews what costs they don’t incur by outsourcing to virtual assistants:

  • No physical office equipment or overhead
  • No in-house training, human resources
  • No government-regulated health and retirement plans
  • No paying for time spent not working specifically on your projects
  • No commitment to keeping full time employees busy year-round

To create the right match for your real estate practice, be sure to understand the interview process and know how to find the best match for your needs. In many cases it is simply a matter of strengths and weaknesses. There are tasks and projects at which you excel and others with which you struggle. Hire and use the right support system to manage those areas of weakness, or tasks you simply don’t have the time to manage yourself. Ask yourself …  where do I need the most help and where do I find the missing expertise? Most likely you can find the missing pieces in the world of virtual support.

Many of the more advanced virtual support firms can help you create and developed a more powerful marketing strategy and plan. The same company will even help you implement and manage your new marketing plan. Most business professionals now understand the importance of having and developing an Internet presence and marketing, but few possess the skills to develop and execute the appropriate components. This is often a slippery slope and can be a very expensive learning process with limited results. As each month and year passes, more and more prospects will be searching the Internet for their products and services. Starting early on with a web presence will help to ensure your positioning on search engine listings sooner.

By teaming with an experienced virtual support firm, you can successfully accomplish your objectives more effectively and productively, at a lower overall cost to you. Compare firms to determine which is best to suit your individual business needs. Once you’ve delegated your 'busy' tasks and details to a competent support team, you’ll find yourself with much more time to work ON your business, instead of IN it … with greater focus of attention on those critical business activities that make your practice a success.

(Daniel A. Shliferis CEO, Virtual Support Systems.)

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