Being a one-man band in a business is a tough experience. You have to do everything and wear all hats in the business. It can be particular frustrating answering petty emails when you know that your time is better spent doing things that actually make money.
Hiring employees is a lot of hassle. You have to deal with a bunch of legal requirements and taxes. A much more economical solution is an independent contractor. And in this day and age, a virtual assistant is a great way to go.
A virtual assistant (VA) is essentially an assistant that does not work in my office. In other words, they are not an employee, but an independent contractor. They provide their own material and they work remotely, doing whatever you ask them to do. With the technology we have today, there really is no reason that you HAVE to have people in your office. In my case, I operate out of a home office. Even if the VA needs to work with your own software, you can give them remote desktop access and they can use a computer in your office while sitting anywhere in the world. Hence the name virtual assistant.
Virtual assistants can be hired online and can either be local or on the other side of the world. You can hire them for as cheap as $5/hour all the way up to much higher rates. Often, the rate varies depending on where they are in the world. For instance, you can usually hire somebody from India a lot cheaper than you can hire somebody from the United States. The thing to consider, though, is the cultural nature of it. You will be dealing with a language barrier and a significant time difference when dealing with somebody overseas. Also, just being from different cultures can lead to issues with communication. Sometimes, dealing with assistants from right here at home makes more sense despite them being, overall, more costly.
A very well known book by Tim Ferris is called 4-Hour Work Week. This book is all about the use of remote labor to run a business and (as the title shows you) in as little as 4 hours per week. That might be a best-case scenario for many, but the principles in that book hold true for anybody looking to get more time in their day and still get the work done.
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