Business owners are constantly having to make choices for their business. And for small business owners, these choices can have a significantly greater effect on the growth of their business. This is especially true when it comes to taking on staff to handle the admin. Do you employ a Personal Assistant or hire a Virtual Assistant?
This is where having a clear idea of your business goals becomes really important.
When it comes to the choices around how best to handle the admin that all businesses have to deal with, there are generally three options:
- Do it yourself
- Employ a Personal Assistant
- Hire a Virtual Assistant
And of course, they all have their pros and cons!
Until relatively recently, a business owner, Managing Director, CEO or similar business leader, looking for an assistant would have naturally thought about just the one option, employing a Personal Assistant.
For a small business owner, doing it yourself would have been a second option to consider.
In more recent years though, even before the coronavirus pandemic and remote working became standard working practice, hiring a Virtual Assistant was growing as a viable option.
Do It Yourself
Let’s start by looking at the advantages and disadvantages of doing the admin yourself.
- You have no additional costs
- You can complete the tasks as soon as they crop up
- Everything gets done just the way you like it
These are pretty clear advantages but what about some of the disadvantages?
- As your business grows, then so do the admin tasks. This can lead to a sense of overwhelm if it’s just you that’s handling it
- The admin stops you focusing on your clients and revenue generating activities. They become a distraction to business growth
- You spend more time in the evenings and weekends ‘catching up’ with your admin
Let’s be honest, if you’ve ever started your own business, the Do-It-Yourself option has probably applied to most, if not every aspect of your business in the beginning. But if you’re focused on business growth, you can’t expect to get away with doing everything yourself. You’re going to need help at some stage, it’s just a question of when.
So, if the Do-It-Yourself option doesn’t match with your long-term goals, what will you do? Is a Personal Assistant and Virtual Assistant really the same thing, with a different title, or are they fundamentally different?
And if they’re different, in what way are they different?
Let’s start with some common factors between the two.
If you’re looking for someone with experience at a senior level, either way, you’re getting an experienced professional. It’s highly likely a Virtual Assistant will have ‘learnt their trade’ with a career as a Personal Assistant, before branching out on their own.
Both will be good organisers and perceptive of their clients’ needs. They’ll be professional and not afraid to take the initiative to get things done quickly and efficiently.
Now whether you employ a PA or hire a VA comes down to what exactly you need them to do.
Employ a Personal Assistant
By employing a Personal Assistant, they will be based in your office and working 1:1 with you.
If you require your assistant to carry out the more ‘physical’ tasks, then a Personal Assistant is probably the best option for you. Tasks such as:
- Copying paperwork
- Filing documents
- Opening incoming post
- Scanning signed documents
- Answering your phone when you’re away from your desk
- Dictating letters, reports, notes etc. on a regular, or spontaneous basis
- You prefer to discuss things face-to-face.
- Bringing you your 11.07 am essential caffeine fix! (OK, this is not a serious one, or is it… ?)
Ignoring the last flippant task, if the help you require involves tasks that can’t be done on a computer alone, employing a Personal Assistant is going to be the right option for you.
Hire a Virtual Assistant
Technology enables a Virtual Assistant to do pretty much every other task just as efficiently as a PA.
Communication is simple these days. Not only have we got mobile phones and email, we’re now all very familiar with video conferencing with Zoom, Teams etc.
While this list is not exhaustive, a Virtual Assistant can do the following tasks just as easily and efficiently as a Personal Assistant, the office they’re based in makes no difference:
Minute Taking – either on site
Draft and format
Create, edit and
Type up notes
and overseas visas
(and nudge late payments)
If it’s a task, or tasks, similar to these you want help with, hiring a Virtual Assistant would be worth serious consideration.
Perhaps the major differentiator between a Personal Assistant and a Virtual Assistant, other than if you need someone based in your office to carry out the ‘physical’ tasks already mentioned, is cost.
If you know you will always have plenty of work for your assistant or envisage them growing into a bigger role within your organisation, then employing a Personal Assistant could be the right call for you.
Bear in mind though that employment costs are not just their salary but will include additional National Insurance, and pension contributions as well as their desk and chair, computer equipment, lighting and heating… and the list goes on.
You hire them to match the ebb and flow of your business, so if you don’t have consistent work for them, you’re not paying them to sit idle. You don’t have to ‘find’ work for them, you have total flexibility. You’re also not paying them when they’re off sick or on holiday and there are also no additional employment costs as they are responsible for their own NI payments and pension.
There is a lot to think about when considering getting help with your admin, but as an assistant is your ‘right-hand’ person, it’s important to get it right.
The key with all decisions is being aware of all the options open to you. Coupled with a clear idea of your business goals, and fully understanding your current resources, thoroughly researching all the pros and cons of each option, and asking as many questions as you need to, enables you to make better informed decisions.
Although admin tasks are not seen as key revenue generating actions, many are essential to the smooth running of a business. If admin is allowed to become a time-stealer and distraction in your business, it can quickly affect the efficiency with which you handle new leads, client requests and your business growth strategies.
It’s decisions like these that can determine the success or failure of a business.
If you have any questions about the things we’ve discussed in this article, please get in touch.