An Alternative to Hiring Employees

Current trends in business are conspiring to create a revolution in the way that small and medium sized companies do business. These forces have created an environment in which growing companies can make maximum use of their labor dollars, while accessing a talent base previously unreachable due to the costs involved with hiring top talent.

The first trend is towards self-employment. Entrepreneurship is at an all time high. According to a study by Inc, 47% of U.S. adults have taken initial steps toward starting their own business or supplementing their income. However, once out of the corporate world, many small business owners find that they have budgets too small to access the level of talent that they took for granted in the corporate environment. A small business owner will typically have to choose which skill set is needed most when deciding to hire. In other words, the decision to hire is driven by a need for human resource, administrative, financial, marketing, sales, legal, skills etc. The problem, of course is that the budget of a small growing company will often require a choice as to which specialty is needed most, to the exclusion of the others, while also limiting the level of professional one can hire.

A second trend is the emergence of Virtual Assistants. Virtual Assistants are typically some of the professional level people mentioned above, who have left the confines of corporate America to start their own businesses. Virtual Assistants are independent contractors who work from home providing a variety of services to businesses. This trend allows these highly skilled professionals to bring their knowledge to bear for a whole range of companies that would otherwise not have access. While VA's were once limited to more administrative tasks, they now encompass the entire spectrum of professional skills. If it can be done from home, there is a VA doing it.

This leads to the inevitable question- how do VA's find employers, and how do employers find VA's?

Enter a Virtual Staffing Service. With a virtual staffing service, the VA's have already been interviewed and screened and are ready to hit the ground running. The benefits of using a staffing service include a backup VA when your individual VA is on vacation or sick, you may discover that you need assistance with marketing which your particular VA does not offer but rather than start the search process again, all it will take is a quick call to your staffing service and they will have a VA ready for you the next day. One of the main advantages of utilizing the services of a staffing service is that you can choose the VA from a variety of resumes and if there is a problem you will be able to switch VA's easily.

What companies are starting to appreciate is that Virtual Assistants cost companies a fraction of the cost of actual hires. A company employing Virtual Assistants can utilize the services of a whole range of professionals instead of having to choose which specialty is needed most as the company grows. For the cost of one salaried Administrative Assistant, a business owner could utilize approximately 1400 hours of assistance divided among any number of top professionals. Utilizing Virtual Assistants allows businesses access to the exact services that they need, it also allows businesses to shift gears more quickly and efficiently by investing in growth rather than payroll because they are paying only for the time spent on their project. There is no longer a reason to worry about taxes, benefits, vacation pay, and time wasted by the water cooler.

More and more businesses are coming round to the idea of Virtual Assistance; it's a win-win for everyone involved. It gives businesses the help that they need without the hassle of hiring a full-time employee.

Gráinne Foley, a former Human Resources Manager is the owner of A Job Well Done (, a virtual staffing service providing top level virtual professionals to small and home based businesses.

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