I received a question on my Formspring account, which you can reach at www.formspring.me/erinblaskie, which asked, “I’m looking at learning more about virtual assistants and how they could benefit me in my business. Also, what sort of costs I am looking at. Where is the best place to start?”

Let me first start by sharing with you some information on what a virtual assistant is. Simply put, a virtual assistant is someone who provides administrative and technical support to business owners but does not necessarily perform these services in the owner’s office. This is the aspect that makes a virtual assistant “virtual.” Although some VAs do spend time in the offices of their clients, most do not.

Virtual assistants also charge for their work on an hourly basis. Every virtual assistance business is different in that they may have hourly packages setup or retainer rates but most just charge a flat hourly rate for their services. The clients then pay the VA for the work that he or she performs for them in a given pay period. These pay periods are also defined by the VA themselves.

Most VAs work from home and have their own home office setup. This allows flexibility in the hours that you would work and it also allows you the comfort of working in your home.

Now that you know a little bit about what a virtual assistant is, let me explain what you can begin delegating to a VA today.

If you were to look at your average day, what are the tasks you are doing that you wonder the most about “why” you are doing them? It could be inputting data into your system, it could be making text changes on your website or it could be calling your customers when their credit card is declined. Whatever it may be in YOUR business, you need to remember that it can always be delegated away.

The tasks that are most often delegated include those that are:

  • Repetitive in nature
  • Tasks that do not require YOUR expertise to complete
  • Tasks that go outside of your expertise range
  • Tasks that you may not like to complete (and that’s okay!)
  • Scheduled items that will require someone to remember to do them on a daily, weekly or monthly basis

Don’t delegate any tasks that you could just take away from your current workload. Oftentimes, people will delegate something that they don’t even need to be doing anyway. If you can eliminate it from your schedule, do that instead of trying to pass it off to someone else.

Don’t delegate things that YOU should be doing. These things include performance reviews, hiring and firing (unless you have a large company and you require a recruiter) and big company decisions.

Delegating can seem like a huge expense before you work out what it may really cost. To help with this, I’ve setup a really simple equation you can do at anytime, with any task. To determine how much delegating an item is going to cost you, you’ll want to use the following equation:

(HOURLY RATE OF VA / 60)
x TIME TO COMPLETE IN MINS
x FREQUENCY PER PAYMENT PERIOD

As an example, let’s look at how much it would cost you to delegate out article submission. Let’s say the VA’s hourly rate is $25 per hour, the time to complete one article submission is 15 minutes and you want it done weekly. This VA invoices monthly.

The equation would be:

(25 (hourly rate) / 60) x 15 (time to complete in minutes) x 4 (frequency per payment period) = $25.00