Feeling overwhelmed as a small business owner? Not sure you can afford a helping hand? We’ll discuss the best ways to procure low-cost VAs and put them to use.
Since the Amazon boom, countless sellers have entered the marketplace in an attempt to strike it rich. But the ecommerce space is notoriously difficult to navigate, and sellers who can’t maintain a breakneck pace get left in the dust.
When it comes to selling on Amazon, it’s crucial to delegate tasks effectively and not do everything yourself. This is because it takes too much time and energy to stay on top of the necessary details to stay competitive.
Even if your business is small enough to manage currently, you’ll eventually need to hire a virtual assistant in order to scale up. There are just too many data points to manage for a single individual. There are also different skill sets that go into product images, descriptions, marketing and inventory.
If you’re worried you can’t afford a virtual assistant or don’t know how to put one to use, have no fear. Here we cover how to find and manage low-cost virtual assistants.
What is a Virtual Assistant?
Virtual assistants, often referred to as VAs, are ubiquitous in ecommerce. However, you might have doubts about what exactly a virtual assistant is. Though the phrase conjures up images of Rosie the Robot, a virtual assistant is simply a third-party who helps maintain your business.
Virtual assistants work remotely and specialize in specific Amazon-related tasks. Generally speaking, VAs are used when a business owner is trying to scale up. They work on a full-time, part-time or project-based schedule–depending on the needs of the business.
Best Uses for a Virtual Assistant
There are several benefits of hiring a virtual assistant beyond the fact that they provide an extra pair of hands. Businesses at different stages of growth will need VAs for different reasons. Some of the most fruitful uses for a VA are as follows:
- They make it easier to scale
If you’re in the early stages of your business and looking to scale for the first time, it’s nearly impossible to do so without a virtual assistant. This is probably the most significant use for a VA, and the time when they provide the most value.
- They offer niche expertise
One of the ways VAs provide value to any business is in offering niche expertise. You can hire a VA exclusively to handle your shipping and freight forwarding, or to source high-quality product images. If there’s an aspect of running your business that takes up too much of your time and energy and doesn’t play to your strengths, a VA can be a life-saver.
- They help you stay ahead of your competition
There’s no doubt the world of ecommerce is competitive. Because ecommerce is entirely digital, what makes the difference between good sellers and great sellers is data. Sellers who stay on top of the latest data and make data-driven decisions inevitably succeed.
VAs are critical in managing data. You might be able to monitor the right metrics most of the time, but you’re definitely too busy to do so exclusively. With the aid of a virtual assistant, you can divide the labor and effectively keep eyes on business trends 24/7.
- They help you maintain work-life balance
Did you know most small business owners work at least 50 hours every week? That doesn’t leave a lot of time left over for friends and family, not to mention the dog, errands and any hobbies.
On a human level, VAs can help you regain control of your non-business life. Even if they only take 5 – 10 hours off of your plate, that’s time you can spend walking the dog, enjoying a sunset or cheering on your kid at her soccer game. Business might be important, but family is forever
Hiring and a Virtual Assistant Effectively
So you’ve decided to hire a virtual assistant–but you’re worried you can’t really afford it. Maybe you want more than one VA, so each can specialize in a niche. Do you have to pay for their health insurance? What kind of 401(k) matching should you offer?
Now more than ever, low-cost VAs are easy to find. Sites like Fiverr and Upwork maintain endless lists of highly skilled freelancers. You can also post job announcements on LinkedIn. And with freelancers, you don’t have to pay for health insurance, offer a 401(k) match or pay unemployment.
That’s right: you get all the benefits of a full-time employee, without any of the costs. One of the best parts about freelancers is that you can negotiate hourly or project-based rates, so you don’t have to pay them more than they’re due. You can even hire freelancers for a single project.
Freelancers are also often specialists. You can hire freelance photographers, filmmakers, marketers and accountants. Professions like photography and filmmaking lend themselves to freelance work especially: clients don’t always need a photographer or filmmaker “on retainer.”
Once you’ve established your business needs according to the criteria above, you can determine the most cost-effective way to hire a VA. Do you need a short-term VA while you scale? Do you want someone to handle all your product images moving forward? Look for a freelancer who’s willing to meet your terms: there’s always a freelancer looking for the same things you are.
With the tips above, you should be ready to hire your first VA. With any luck, you’ll have less work on your plate–and without having spent a fortune, either.
Once you’ve found a low-cost VA with the right set of skills, make sure to communicate. If you don’t stay in touch with your VAs, how can you share the same vision?
These days, many sellers opt to use seller software to help manage their teams. SellerMobile, for instance, provides easy-to-read dashboards that give you and your VAs the same data. Best of all, the dashboards can be customized for different team members. You also don’t have to give anyone your Seller Central account information.