Do I Need a Virtual Assistant?

Do you need a virtual assistant? The question might not be as simple as you thought. The most obvious answer is that if you find yourself overworked and too busy for the hours in your day, a virtual assistant can be a great addition to your team. You can add more capacity to your daily work and have someone else take an increasingly demanding workload.

But there may be an entirely different type of person who doesn’t know that they need a virtual assistant—even if they don’t quite understand why yet. To tell if that might apply to you, we’ve put together this guide.

In this article we will cover:

  1. OBVIOUS SIGNS: You need a VA’s help
  2. SUBTLE SIGNS: You may need a VA’s help
  3. QUESTIONS TO ASK: Determine if a VA is right for you
Business Owner Considering Getting a VA

The Most Obvious Signs You Need a Virtual Assistant

Let’s start with the obvious signs. If you’re reading this, you may identify with one of these signs—but it doesn’t mean that if you don’t, you can’t use a virtual assistant. It only means that you should try to see if you find some of your own situation in one of these scenarios:

1. Spending too much time with administrative duties. Let’s say that you’re an entrepreneur or the leader of a team at your company. You maintain a start-up, pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps sort of mentality. This is great at first. It gives you autonomy and control. But eventually, getting bogged down in the details of administrative duties can wear on you.

If you find that bookkeeping, data entry, and team management are eating up too much of your time, it’s a surefire sign that a virtual assistant can probably step in and help you bear the load.

2. Focusing too much on busywork. “Busywork.” You know how it feels when you work for a few hours on something so small about your business that you wonder why you even bothered working that hard in the first place, right? If so, then there’s a good chance you can use a virtual assistant who can handle the small details and free you up to handle the big picture.

It’s known as the Pareto principle in economics: as a trend in many business events, 80% of the results come from 20% of the causes. That means that your focus as a leader has to be on those essential causes that are currently creating 80% of your results—not the 80% of work that only gives you 20% of your results.

In other words, if you don’t have enough time to focus on the high-impact, high-value activities that you as a business leader should be tackling, there’s a good chance you need a virtual assistant.

3. Missing out on vital opportunities. Your presence in your business isn’t just about the work you do. It’s also about the opportunities you find—or the opportunities you miss. If you’re too busy working on data entry for a small task that you could instead outsource, then you’re not out closing a major sale or you’re not focusing on the big picture direction of your company.

We can’t say for sure which opportunities you miss by not having a virtual assistant. But if you spend too much of your data on the tasks for which you’re not qualified, it may be time to consider outsourcing.

4. Stretching your skills too thin. As multi-talented as you may be, there comes a time when your business outgrows even those skills. If you’re a C-level executive, for example, are your talents really best put to use if you’re focusing on managing your team and dealing with your own travel schedule?

A virtual assistant doesn’t just have to be someone who takes on the tasks you’d rather not do. They should bring specific expertise to the tasks you’re not doing. For example, if you’d rather not manage your social media accounts, a virtual assistant can step in and help. With specific social media experience, a social media virtual assistant can offer a skilled way for you to outsource that aspect of your life without requiring the full-time investment of hiring an entirely new team member, even though it may feel like there’s a new member of your team.

5. Problems with work/life balance. Last, but certainly not the least. What if your work/life balance is out of whack? What if you find yourself struggling to make it home by 7:00 p.m. every day, even though your work should ostensibly only require that you get home by 5:00 p.m.? What if you find that you can’t enjoy your vacations with your family because you’re glued to your phone? What if you feel stuck? What if you feel like you can’t get away from the job you once loved?

In many cases, the solution is simple: add another pair of hands.

A virtual assistant can take on much of the work that’s kept you so busy, enabling you to create a to-do list that you no longer have to cross off yourself. 

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The Not-So-Obvious Signs You Need a Virtual Assistant

All of the reasons above are great examples of obvious signs that you need a virtual assistant. But what if you’re on the fence and you can’t quite put your finger on whether you should move forward or not?

Here are some of the less-obvious reasons that you may need a virtual assistant:

1. The cost of distractions. In one study, it was found that employees typically spend about 11 minutes on a project before being distracted—after which point it took a full 25 minutes to return to their original task, if they were able to get back on task at all.

Call it the “hidden cost of distractions.” When you’re hard at work in your office and a client calls you up, you usually take the call and consider it all to be productive work. After all, you need to take those calls, right? Unfortunately, the call can bite into your time far beyond its immediate impact. When the call is over, you might find it necessary to jot down a reminder of following up with that client. Or you might find yourself daydreaming about something the client just said. You might find yourself worked up by a complaint they had.

You know what you’re not doing? Focusing on the task at hand.

That’s the hidden cost of distraction that comes with answering your own phones. But it’s not just answering phones that you can outsource to a virtual assistant. You can also:

  • Have them take on social media interactions
  • Have them deal with customer tickets through software like Zendesk
  • Have them send out email follow-ups with clients 
  • Have them manage your CRM software so that you’re bringing people through your sales funnel while you focus on working for clients

This leaves you more time to focus on the productive work that makes the highest impact on your bottom line. The virtual assistant, meanwhile, is plenty happy to take on the tasks that you didn’t want to.

2. You’re ready to grow, but not yet. Unfortunately, for many business owners and executives, the idea of adding new people is a major hurdle. They think about payroll taxes. Benefits. The massive amount of hours they’ll have to hire new people for. The amount of time it takes to vet them. Interview them. Review resumes. Train them. Onboard them into your system. And then—after all that—hoping for the best when it comes to their performance at work.

But what if you didn’t have to go through all of that to grow your team?

That’s how a virtual assistant can fill your need without requiring the major commitment of a new hire.

For example, consider that a virtual assistant will save up to 78% in operating costs per year. Virtual assistants who work on a freelance, part-time, or hourly basis can be extremely simple hires. If you were to hire a virtual assistant through Delegated, for example, you would be assigned a customer success manager who matches your specific needs to a virtual assistant.

If you need a virtual administrative assistant, you could then peruse those assistants with direct experience in working with administrative tasks. If you needed someone to help you manage a Pinterest account, you could find virtual assistants who make that their specialty.

Best of all: it’s a simple way to go about it. You can give your virtual assistant a trial period and not feel bad if you decide to move forward after that.

Hard to say the same of a full-time hire.

In other words, you might have been holding back on growing your team because you’re not sure if you can yet afford the commitment of time, money, and effort it takes to bring them on. With a virtual assistant, you’ll have a lot more leeway. You’ll be able to take on someone who may only be working for you in their pajamas at home, taking on your tasks for just a few hours a day. It’s a low-commitment, flexible way to start expanding your team. And you just might find out it was the best thing you could have done.

3. Your business is bigger—period. For entrepreneurs and freelancers, many of whom have been working diligently to grow their businesses for years, success can seem like a fleeting thing. They might barely notice as their revenues increase from year to year—they’re that steeped in the mindset that it could all vanish.

But there comes a point where your business gets too big for you to manage alone. Even if you feel that you have a handle on things and you get home on time, you may notice the subtle signs. You might find less time to reach out to old clients like you used to. You might still give your productive work 100%, but outsource other tasks like social media updates to AI software because you don’t have time to touch it anymore.

The problem? It’s not quite working.

When your business is growing, it’s okay to admit that you can’t manage it all yourself. You’re not superman or superwoman. You’re a human being and what you’re doing is growing a business. That’s not bad news. It’s not anything to be afraid of. It’s a sign that you’re headed in the right direction.

The key here is to remember that there are virtual assistants who aren’t limited to administrative tasks, if you don’t mind tackling those yourself. You may find that virtual assistants can step in and function more like a full-time member of your team, handling issues like marketing, sales, social media—even managing the phones.

That isn’t to say that business growth is a sign that you always need a virtual assistant. But in case you haven’t noticed, a growing business comes with increasing demands on your time and energy. And the time to hire a virtual assistant isn’t after you notice all these changes. It’s as they’re happening. As your business grows, you’ll already have a virtual assistant onboarded and ready to step in for some of your most essential tasks.

A Comprehensive List of Signs that You Need a Virtual Assistant

Still not sure? Aside from the subtle and not-so-subtle signs listed above, let’s focus on some of the key indicators that you could use a virtual assistant:

  1. When your family asks why they’re not seeing more of you.
  2. When you’re on vacation and can’t get away from your phone because you have too much to do at work.
  3. When you find yourself spending valuable work hours handling your own travel arrangements.
  4. When you never finish a day feeling like you’ve “completed” all the day’s tasks anymore.
  5. When you consistently put off managing tasks like data entry.
  6. When you have an inbox full of hundreds or even thousands of emails and you’re not sure how to tackle it.
  7. When you put off managing expense reports because they’re too difficult to deal with.
  8. If you consistently make notes in your calendar that never get done.
  9. If your to-do list is mostly pristine by the end of the day, having never crossed your essential tasks off the list.
  10. If you’re sick of dealing with people on the phone and would rather do the work that’s most productive.
  11. If you find that distractions are constantly biting into your time.
  12. If you have to work through your lunch break on a routine basis.
  13. When you have enough money coming in with revenue but aren’t sure how to reinvest it to make your business better.
  14. When you find yourself wishing that you had another pair of arms. 

How to Tell if You Need a Virtual Assistant – A Telling List of Questions

Maybe you’ve browsed the reasons above and you still don’t have a lot of clarity over whether they’re enough to make the commitment to hire a new virtual assistant. If that’s the case, you might consider a different approach: a list of questions that hint at your growing need for a virtual assistant. Here are some of the key questions you should ask yourself:

  • What would your life be like if you could take two hours a day off the top? If you were to hire a virtual assistant who could work those two hours for you, it wouldn’t necessarily translate as two hours on your bottom line. But this is a good thought experiment. Would two more hours in the day fix many of the problems you feel you’ve been having with your work? No? If not, why? If so, what kind of tasks could you outsource to take those two hours off the top?
  • Are you able to get away on vacation whenever you want? Let’s say we asked you if you could redeem a cruise getaway prize next week. But there’s the catch—it has to be next week. Could you get away from work and have your team/business still run at maximum efficiency? If not, then there’s a good chance that you’re too tied in to the essential workflow at your business. It’s great that the work you do is so essential, but it doesn’t mean that you should be incapable of removing yourself from your business for a week.
  • Does your to-do list never seem to get done? This might be the most important one here. No matter what your needs—if you’re looking for a VA to help you with Amazon listings or simply to help manage your office administration work—you’re going to have a to-do list. And this to-do list is a great barometer of your overall productivity. The question is: is it getting done, or not? Are you making progress against it, or not? If not, it may be time to add someone who’s capable of taking your to-do list and knocking it out of the park.

There’s no single answer for telling if you need a virtual assistant. But if you notice your own situation in some of the ideas here, there’s a good chance that you’ll hear the sound of opportunity knocking. Don’t resist the idea of adding a team member as something risky or bold. Think of it as a natural progression of you being the best possible leader you can be.

Then, let the VA take care of the rest.

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