The time comes in every growing business owner’s life that they will need to spread their wings and decide how best to grow their team. Whether you are a solo entrepreneur about to launch big and need an offsider or a small business owner with existing staff and an increased workload, there are a few ways to seek additional staff assistance.
You can get an intern, hire a temp, a virtual assistant (VA) or officially hire an employee. All of these options will require training, so the best long-term solution for any business would be to weigh up between hiring a staff member or a VA.
Finding the right person can be costly, time consuming and risky. Having said that, for a business to successfully grow, it is a necessary step to seek support. It is simply a case of choosing the right team mate to help you steer the ship. Some may avoid it altogether by continuing to do it all themselves while stagnating the business and burning out. Others may jump in head first and hire the first person who looks good on paper which can be a risk also.
In the hopes of assisting you to find what is best suited for your business budget and structure, I have created some quick reference breakdowns below. This aims to compare our longer-term solution of staff member Vs virtual assistant.
Wage and staffing expenses
An hourly rate for a staff member at first glance will almost always be less than that of a virtual assistant. However it is not so straight forward. With employees there are overheads added such as tax, super, office supplies, training and staff downtime (big money drainer). So at first glance it may appear there is a vast difference between the hourly rate compared to a VA, however a VA's hourly rate is set with no overheads or unexpected expenses showing up.
It is a whole other blog to break this done fiscally, so I will keep it simple:
If you paid a good staff member to change a light bulb, it would take them 38 hours, 10 toilet breaks, 3 hours at the photocopier and 20 unrelated internet searches.
If you paid a VA to change a light bulb, it would take them 20 minutes.
Skills and qualifications
Most staff members and virtually assistants come with specific skill sets and qualifications to service a business in its growth. The dividing factor here is that typically VAs have a much broader skill set when it comes to the general office tasks and in being a business owner themselves. I don’t think I’ve met a VA yet that isn’t open to a new challenge. The thirst for growth and new skill sets is strong in this industry.
Productivity and Time Management
There have been a number of studies on the science of productivity, particularly in the office environment. All signs point to an office not actually being that productive of an environment to work in for a number of reasons. The highest is simply because it is filled with constant interruptions in any given work day and that is hard to bounce focus back in from. A virtually assistant gets paid for the work and specific hours they do, not a whole day. They also often work by themselves in home offices, so the disruption chances are much lower.
Peak Work Seasons
It is rare that a business does not have peak seasons or spurts of additional workload. Before hiring a staff member, be sure that this team member can service the needs of the business past any larger one-off projects or peak seasons otherwise. With a skilled virtual assistant, you can see through large projects without then having to find ongoing work for them or having to go through a dreaded redundancy interview and pay out.
You can certainly find committed and loyal staff members, I know, because I was one myself for many years. However, it is a rare quality to find this nowadays. Virtual assistants own their business while supporting your business, so if they aren’t committed and loyal, they lose your business. I find most virtual assistants also have such a better mindset in general. There is none of this “it’s not in my job description”, because as a VA the job description is typically flexible to service and meet the needs of the growing business. They get in and get the work done as you ask for it, without complaint.
The typical staff member works 9-5, Monday to Friday, which is great if consistency and face to face value is a larger consideration in your business. If you need something urgent on the weekend, you can bet your bottom dollar it will cost overtime, if it is even agreed to in the first place. There are a number of virtual assistants that offer weekend and/or urgent work, much like a callout fee for a local tradie.
This blog has come up pretty bias towards virtually assistants and that is simply because in writing it, I was reminded of how versatile VAs really are for businesses. I do not agree that they are the best fit for every business need or situation. In some cases, a staff member is certainly a more sustainable option.
To summarise, a staff member is great if your business has a strong need for a consistent, office bound, full time worker. Virtual assistants on the other hand are great for a variety of outsourced business needs, whether you need assistance on a larger project, one off smaller task, overflow work, ongoing administration support or specific weekly support such as a social media manager, bookkeeper or designer.
As for finding the right person for either staffing option you chose, keep your expectations high and your directions clear and you’ll find the right fit in a flash.